SEDRAH SELECTIONS PARSHAS MI'KEITZ SHABBOS M'SHULESHES, ROSH CHODESH,
CHANUKAH 5766 BS"D
In honour of the triple event Shabbos, an insight on this day: The gemara
Brochos 51a says that when holding the goblet of wine used for "birkas hamozone,"
one should hold it in his right hand while saying grace after the meal. The
gemara raises the question of permissibility of using one's left hand to help
hold up the goblet. Tosfos d.h. "Smole mahu" comments that we are discussing
either when the goblet was quite large, or at a sheva Brochos meal, or on
Shabbos, Rosh Chodesh, Chanukah. If Tosfos is attempting to explain why one would
use his left hand to help, and gives the pragmatic answer that a large goblet,
which when filled with wine, is quite heavy, or for a lengthy birkas hamozone,
we would be left wondering why Tosfos bothered at all giving us examples. If
the goblet was light and the blessings were very short, would it make any
difference? The question remains the same. Is it permitted or not.
My dear "mechutan," Rabbi M.M.M.G., Rosh Kollel Mechanchim, explained that
Tosfos is telling us that if the birkas hamozone was short, or if the goblet was
light, the gemara would have no question. Since the goblet can easily be held
in the right hand, even if the left hand is also used, it is still considered
as if he were only using his right hand, as this is a "m'sa'yei'ya she'ein bo
ma'mesh," help that is of no substance. It is only when the goblet is heavy,
or if it becomes heavy because of holding it for an extended period of time,
such as birkas hamozone for a sheva Brochos, or Shabbos, Rosh Chodesh,
Chanukah, and the supplementary help of the left hand is meaningful, does the gemara's
Ch. 41, v. 4: "Vatochalnoh haporos ro'ose hamar'eh v'dakose habosor eis sheva
haporos" - And the poor looking and emaciated cows ate the seven cows -
Verses 2 and 3 inform us that Paroh dreamt of 7 robust and 7 emaciated cows. Our
verse begins by telling us that the poor looking and emaciated cows swallowed
.., without repeating their number, assuming that we would understand that it
was 7 of the previous verse. Yet the verse goes on to say that they swallowed
the SEVEN healthy looking and robust cows. Why repeat the number 7 by the
healthy ones and not by the emaciated ones?
Perhaps this is an allusion to what would happen later. There were 7 years of
abundance, and during the second year of famine all remembrance of the
abundance was gone (47:18), to the point that all Egyptians sold their fields and
themselves to Yoseif. Although Paroh dreamt that there were 7 emaciated cows,
indicating that there would be 7 years of famine, but the swallowing of the
robust cows, symbolic of the eradication of the abundant years by the famine, was
accomplished within 2 years, hence only the mention of "cows" without their
number. When mentioning the swallowed healthy cows the number 7 is mentioned to
indicate that all 7 years were eradicated. (Nirreh li)
Ch. 41, v. 5: "B'konneh echod" - On one stalk - Read this as "b'kO'neh (nikud
cholom) echod." The purchasing was only done from one source, Yoseif.
Everyone else's stored food spoiled (M.R. 97). (Rabbi Shlomo haLevi Gottlieb in
Ch. 41, v. 32: "V'al hishonose .. um'ma'heir" - And the repetition .. and He
hurries - The Baa'lei Tosfos ask why by virtue of the repetition of the dream
to Paroh it was a portender of the dream being fulfilled shortly, and when
Yoseif had a repetitive dream that he would master over his brothers it took over
20 years. Numerous answers were offered in the 5759 edition. Another answer:
Rabbi Yoseif Nechemioh Kornitzer writes that "Shnosayim yomim u'Pharoh
choleim" (41:1) means that Paroh had the same dream night after night for two years.
He uses this explanation to understand how Paroh could possibly in one day
have brought ALL the dream interpreters and wise men of Egypt (verse 8), heard
their explanations, and concluded that they were not accurate. This is also the
explanation of "es chatoAI," - my sinS, in the plural, of the wine-butler
(verse 9). He sinned for 2 years by daily forgetting to mention Yoseif to Paroh.
Thus a simple one-time repetition is no indication of a quick fulfillment.
Ch. 41, v. 34: "Yaa'seh Pharoh v'yafkeid p'kidim" - Paroh should act and
appoint administrators - 8 QUESTIONS in honour of the 8 days of Chanukah:
1) The word "yaa'seh" seems to be totally superfluous, as the verse could
have simply said, "Yafkid Paroh p'kidim," as we find in Megilas Esther 2:3,
"V'yafkeid ha'melech p'kidim."
2) In verse 40 we find Paroh telling Yoseif that although he was now being
given a high position, nevertheless, Paroh himself would still be above him.
Would any sane person think that by virtue of this appointment Paroh was
abdicating his kingship?
3) Why was it necessary for Paroh to tell Yoseif that he, Paroh, was giving
Yoseif his position (verse 41)? Isn't this obvious?
4) Why mention all the pomp and circumstance of the royal appointment
through giving Yoseif a royal signet ring, placing royal garments upon him, placing
a gold necklace upon his neck (verse 42), and giving him a royal limousine
(verse 43)? Would we think that Yoseif would be the viceroy and be dressed in
shmattes and when he needed transportation he would have to hitch a ride? Why not
simply state only the information in verse 41, Paroh's telling Yoseif that he
was now the viceroy?
5) Rashi on verse 42 says that the handing over of the king's signet ring
was the specific ceremony that indicated that the recipient was
second-in-command. Why mention this? Rashi does not do so by Achashveirosh's doing the same
with Homon. What important information would we be lacking if we only thought of
this as a gesture of respect, or simply a handing over of some authority?
6) In verse 43, as explained by Rashi, we see that Paroh supplied Yoseif
with a royal chariot which was specifically a "mirke'ves hamishneh," second to
the king's, like a Bentley next to a Rolls Royce Silver Cloud, and that Paroh
had it travel right next to his. Why mention this at all?
7) Again in verse 43, we find that Yoseif was called "avreich." Rashi brings
the opinion of Rabbi Yehudoh in Medrash Agodoh that this is a composite word,
"av" and "rach." "Av" means an elder (in wisdom), while "rach" means tender
(young). If Yoseif's appointment was to be taken seriously by the wide public,
shouldn't only his virtue of being wise be stressed? Why add that he is a
youngster, an element that would limit his acceptance in people's eyes?
8) Verse 45 tells us that Paroh gave Yoseif a new name and a wife. Why did
Paroh do this?
It is quite possible that Yoseif, with the use of this one phrase, "yaa'seh
Pharoh," appealed to Paroh in a most ingenious manner, displaying absolute
genius in dealing with Paroh's emotional needs and offering politically sound
advice at the same time. Yoseif tells Paroh that a devastating famine is coming in
7 years, so decimating that it would wipe out all vestiges of 7 years of
abundance, and as mentioned earlier, in much less than 7 years. Whoever would save
the day would become the national hero and Paroh would be relegated to
This was Yoseif's intention with the words "yaa'seh Pharoh." Make sure that
whomever you appoint will not be a threat to your maintaining the country's
leadership. Make sure that the attribution is to you. Yoseif wanted to allude to
Paroh to place him in this position but could not do so overtly. After all,
there was a law etched in stone that anyone with a jail record could not become
a minister. Asking Paroh to break the law was very inadvisable. However, Paroh
himself could break the law (read that as AMEND the law). It was also
extremely advantageous to give the position to a foreigner, and a Jew to boot, not a
very coveted title among the Egyptians, "v'shom itonu naar IVRI" (41:12), upon
which Rashi comments that the wine-butler was very critical of Yoseif by
calling him an IVRI. This was the perfect bait, appointing a Jew, a jailbird, a
NAAR, a young person. Appointing Yoseif would be the optimum situation for
Paroh. Yoseif would be a very capable administrator who would most likely not
become the nation's idol and hero.
Paroh now had to walk a tightrope, giving Yoseif credence and esteem so that
people would listen to his edicts, and at the same time not having him run
away with the leadership. This is why Paroh stated unequivocally, "rak haki'sei
egdal mi'meko" (verse 40). Make sure you realize that I will always be above
you. In the same vein in verse 41 Paroh reiterates, "R'ei nosaTI os'cho al kol
eretz Mitzroyim." Be cognizant of MY appointing you.
This also explains why the Torah mentions in much detail the coronation, and
all the royal items given to Yoseif (verse 42). Paroh did all this to show all
his people and in particular his ministers, that Yoseif was now second in
command, and not just another appointee. Rashi stresses this as well, saying that
handing over the signet ring is the ceremony for installing a
In verse 43 we see exactly the same strategy. Yoseif is given a chariot that
is one notch below Paroh's and rides next to him, rather than with him in the
same chariot, even though this was the coronation parade. He is called
"avreich." Although an elder in wisdom, this must again be tempered with knowing that
he is not the top man, hence "rach," tender in years. Lastly, by giving
Yoseif a new name and by GIVING him a wife, "va'yi'ten," and Yoseif's not TAKING a
wife, Paroh was again publicly wielding his power over Yoseif, one more tactic
in "keeping him in his place."
Indeed, Yoseif was very cooperative and it was abundantly clear to all that
Paroh was the top man on the totem pole. When the people suffered from the
famine they came to Paroh and not to Yoseif (41:55), and only then did Paroh send
them to Yoseif. When the people became more and more impoverished and had to
sell their belongings, including their land, and finally themselves, it was all
sold to Paroh. Yoseif was a loyal trustworthy viceroy, making sure that Paroh
was recognized as the leader of the nation (see 47:14,19,20,22,23,24,25, and
The relationship between Yoseif and Paroh was cordial because Paroh was not
threatened by Yoseif and the power that he held, as his perception was that
Yoseif was second in command. This held true even during the years when this was
greatly challenged, during the famine. It seems that the reality of the
situation, at least during the famine, was that Yoseif was truly the leader. There
is one place where Yoseif tells his brothers of his high position and describes
it as even being above Paroh's. In Breishis 45:8 Yoseif tells his brothers
that it was not they who brought him to being in Egypt, but rather, it was
Hashem. "Va'y'si'meini l'ov l'Pharoh ul'odone l'chol beiso umosheil b'chol
ho'oretz." The simple translation of "ov" is father. Yoseif was like a guiding father
to Paroh, master over his household, and lord over all the land. No doubt this
was only for their ears and not for Paroh's. Yoseif likely pointed out that
he was in the highest position in the land to assuage his brothers' feelings of
guilt. However, he would not lie. We thus see that he was truly the leader of
Egypt, even above Paroh, at least during the famine. (Nirreh li)
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