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by Zvi Akiva Fleisher

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Ch. 37, v. 4,5: "Va'yis'nu oso, vo'yosifu ode sno oso" - Rabbi Zvi Pesach Frank says that we can see from the words of these two verse how calculated Yoseif's brothers were. It is common for someone who hates another to feel an unbridled level of hatred. However, upon seeing that their father favoured Yoseif they harbored a measured amount of hatred for him, and only after hearing his dream did they add more hatred of Yoseif in their hearts.

Ch. 37, v. 8: "Hamoloch, hamoshol" - The Ibn Ezra says that "moloch" means reigning by virtue of the approval of the populace, and "moshol" means ruling by force.

The GR"A says that Yoseif's brothers derived these two types of leadership from the dream. Yoseif's sheaf standing up indicates his lording over them.

Their sheaves bowing down indicates their approval of his reigning over them.

Their response was, Hamoloch timloch oleinu," - Will you then be our king with our approval? Obviously not! If so, "hamoshol timshol bonu" - Will you rule over us by force? Although this is a possibility, since the first part of the dream is nonsense, so is the second part, in keeping with the dictum of the gemara Avodoh Zoroh 17b, "Mid'ho leiso, ho nami leiso" - The negation of one part indicates the negation of the whole.

The GR"A goes on to say that with the difference pointed out between "moleich" and "mosheil" we can understand the verses of our daily prayers in a new light. At the end of our "Oz yoshir" prayers we say, "Ki laShem hamluchoh umosheil bagoyim" (T'hilim 22:29). "V'hoyoh Hashem l'Melech al kol ho'o'retz ......" (Z'charioh 14:9). This means Hashem reigns over the bnei Yisroel with their approval, "Ki Lashem hamluchoh." However the nations of the world do not accept His leadership, so He must rule over them with force, "u'mosheil bagoyim." In the future Hashem's reign will be willingly accepted by not the bnei Yisroel but also by all nations of the world, "V'hoyoh Hashem l'Melech al kol ho'o'retz ......"

Ch. 37, v. 13: "Halo achecho ro'im b'Sh'chem" - The words of this verse seem to indicate that BECAUSE Yoseif's brothers were grazing their sheep specifically in Sh'chem was Yaakov willing to send him. Why so?

1) In Sh'chem Yaakov strongly rebuked Shimon and Levi by saying "Achartem osi" (Breishis 34:30). This rebuke carried the message that even if at first glance you feel that what you are doing is correct, you must have sufficient insight into seeing the repercussions and spin-off affects of your actions. Yaakov therefore felt safe that at least while they were in Sh'chem the brothers would do no harm to Yoseif. (Pardes Yoseif)

2) The gemara Bovo Basro 165a says that a majority of people transgress sins that are in the realm of theft, a minority transgress sins that are in the realm of adultery, and a minority of a minority transgress the sin of bloodshed. Yaakov reasoned that if his sons went to the trouble of going to Sh'chem to graze their sheep, it must be because the city was razed and the pastureland in the area became ownerless, thus they would not inadvertently transgress the sin of theft. If they were so careful with a sin that the majority of people transgress, surely they would not attempt to kill their brother, since killing is transgressed by only a very small percentage of people. (Rabbi Shlomo Zev Patzinovsky z"l)

3) Since the brothers of Dinoh displayed great caring for the honour of their sister at the risk of their lives in Sh'chem (Breishis 34:25), Yaakov felt that in Sh'chem they would do no harm to any sibling. (Rabbi Mordechai Gifter shlit"a)

4) Perhaps, since Shimon and Levi had killed the inhabitants of Sh'chem, Yaakov felt that the brothers of Yoseif surely realized that any further bloodshed might bring upon them the wrath of people from the surrounding communities.

Ch. 37, v. 14: "Shlome achecho shlome hatzone v'hashi'veini dovor" - The M.R. 84:7 says that the negative talk (37:2) which Yoseif related to his father Yaakov was that:

1) The children of Leah treated the children of the maidservants, Zilpoh and Bilhoh, with contempt, calling them slaves.

2) His brothers ate meat taken from an animal while it was still alive, known as "eiver min hachai," which is prohibited to a non-Jew as well as a Jew.

3) They had engaged in immoral acts.

This was the intention of Yaakov when he asked Yoseif to visit his brothers and come back with a report regarding three matters:

1) "Shlome achecho" - meaning peace among his brothers and that there was no denigrating the children of the maidservants.

2) "Shlome hatzone" - meaning the completeness of the sheep; that they were not eating a piece of meat hacked off a living sheep.

3) "V'hashi'veini dovor" - meaning to bring back a positive report about DOVOR, as in "Ervas DOVOR" (Dvorim 24:1), which the gemara Sotoh 2b explains as adultery. (Nachal K'dumim)

Ch. 37, v. 26 "V'chisinu es domo" - The Sefer Chasidim #449 points out that even though Hashem is strict in dealing with murder, but when the blood of the victim is visible upon the ground Hashem goes to greater lengths to visit immediate punishment upon the murderer. He says that even though the brothers of Yoseif were sure that they were in the right to have him killed, nonetheless they felt it was safer for them to have his blood physically covered.

Ch. 37, v. 31: "Va'yish'chatu s'ir izim" - Goat's blood was used, as it is similar to human blood (Rashi, from Medrash Rabboh 84:17). The Moshav Z'keinim asks from the gemara Gitin 57b that relates that the blood of the murdered kohein Zecharioh was compared to the bloods of different sacrifices including that of goats, and did not match. Is this not contradictory to the above Rashi?

1) The Moshav Z'keinim answers that with the passage of time other bloods mixed with Zecharioh's.

2) Tosfos Hasholeim answers that the blood of Zecharioh was very old, but fresh bloods match.

3) He also answers that they normally match, but Hashem found it necessary to punish the bnei Yisroel, so this one time it did not match, leading to much more bloodshed.

4) Possibly, the bloods do not match except when absorbed into a garment.

5) The Mahara"m Shiff (Gitin 57b) says that although the two bloods are quite similar, when one has both types in front of him and scrutinizes them one can notice a difference.

Ch. 37, v. 34: "Va'yisa'beil al b'no yomim rabim" - Rashi (gemara Megiloh 17a and M.R. 78:16) calculates for us that Yoseif was away from his father for twenty-two years, as a commensurate punishment for Yaakov who also was away from his parents for twenty-two years. Part of the twenty-two years Yaakov was absent was spent in pursuit of a wife, which cost him seven years of labour. Possibly even fourteen years should be considered time spent fulfilling his father's wish to pursue marriage, if we include both Rochel and Leah. Why then are these years counted in the time he was away? There was no lack of parental honour since he was doing his father's bidding. The Maharsh"o on the gemara Megiloh 17a asks that the six months he stayed in Beis Ei-l should also not go into the 22 year calculation as Hashem specifically commanded him to stay in Beis Ei-l for a while (35:1).

Rabbi Pinchos M'nacheim Alter zt"l, the previous Admor of Gur, in his sefer Toros'cho Shaashu'oy answers these questions with the insight of the Beis haLevi into a mishneh in the gemara Makos 5a. There is a rule that if witnesses are found to be totally false in a certain manner (imonu heyisem), called "eidim zom'mim," their punishment is to incur the loss or punishment that they attempted to have done to the innocent defendant. The mishneh says that if witnesses falsely testified that a person owes another person 100 dollars, they may pay an accumulative the 100 dollars and it is not required for each witness to pay the full 100 dollars. However, if they testified that the defendant transgressed a sin that carries the punishment of 39 lashes, we do not say that the lashes are divided between or among the witnesses.

Rather, each witness receives the full complement of 39 lashes. Why is this so? The Beis haLevi explains that money only has a quantitative nature to it and as long as the defendant has received 100 dollars, the punishment was fully carried out. However, when it comes to lashes there is a qualitative aspect as well. The flavour of the first lash upon one's back is not the same as the 39th, which lands upon an already very sore back. The taste of the 39th lash can only come about after experiencing the first 38 lashes. Hence, we must administer 39 lashes to each witness.

Similarly, says the Toros'cho Shaashu'oy, although Yaakov was not guilty of being away for many of the 22 years of his absence, since the last years were through his own choice, deciding to stay on at his father-in-law's home to build up his finances, Yaakov caused his father Yitzchok the qualitative anguish of longing for his son who was absent for 22 years. There is no way Yaakov could make up the qualitative aspect without suffering being parted from his son Yoseif for 22 years, although he was guilty for only a fraction of this time. It is questionable if this answers the difficulty of the Maharsh"o, since the stay in Beis Ei-l took place after Yaakov's delay of six years of his own volition.

Although this is a brilliant resolution of the problem it seems that a new difficulty arises. We know that there were another fourteen years of absence by Yaakov which were spent in Yeshivas Eiver, as explained in the above gemara Megiloh and recounted in Rashi 28:9. The gemara says that the merit of learning Torah protected Yaakov from any retribution for those 14 years away from his father. This makes perfect sense until now. However, upon introducing the qualitative factor, we seem to still have a problem. In fact, Yaakov was away from his father for 36 years. Should he then not have been punished by suffering the absence of Yoseif for the same amount of time?

Saying that he was not punished for the time spent learning doesn't answer the question, since many other years of his absence were also not years for which he was punished.

Perhaps an answer can be found in the words of the Maharsh"o on the above-mentioned gemara Megiloh. He says that Yeshivas Eiver was located in B'eir Sheva, the city of Yitzchok. Although Yaakov left his father's home he did not leave the city in which his father resided. Perhaps the reason the gemara finds it necessary to exclude those years from the total years of absence even though Yaakov was in the same city, is because Yitzchok was blind and thus somewhat immobile, and would not visit Yaakov at the Yeshiva.

However, in regard to the new concept introduced by the Toros'cho Shaashu'oy of accumulative longing, since Yitzchok knew that Yaakov was close at hand and if need be could be immediately summoned, those years did not accrue to the qualitative longing.

Incidentally, the words of the Maharsh"o brought a difficulty to mind. If Yeshivas Eiver was in B'eir Sheva, how was Yaakov fulfilling the wishes of his mother, who specifically commanded him to leave to escape the wrath of Eisov (27:42,43)?

Perhaps Yaakov knew that Eisov would never consider stepping into the hallowed halls of Yeshivas Eiver. Eisov might have waited for him during the break between daily sessions and at night when the students went to sleep in the dormitory. We know however, that Yaakov never left the Yeshiva even to go to sleep, as pointed out by Rashi (M.R. 68:11) on the words "Va'yishkav bamokome" (28:11). After waiting for a few years for Yaakov to exit the Beis Ha'medrash, Eisov probably got tired of waiting and just gave up.

Ch. 39, v. 12: "Va'yonos" - The Medrash Shocher Tov (T'hilim 114:3) on the words "hayom ro'oh VA'YONOSE," says that the sea should flee (split) upon seeing Yoseif's casket, since Yoseif also fled from the wife of Potifar, "VAYONOS vayeitzei hachutzo."

The Ksav Sofer explains the connection. The Ibn Ezra asks: "Why was a miracle necessary? Why not have the bnei Yisroel battle with the oncoming Egyptians?" The Ksav Sofer says that this would have entailed standing up against the Egyptians with physical force. Although the Egyptians deserved no mercy, nonetheless there is a certain appreciation the bnei Yisroel should have, as the Egyptians were their hosts for many years. The Torah says, (Dvorim 23:8) "Do not hate an Egyptian, since you were a sojourner in his land." Only if the bnei Yisroel had the characteristic of being grateful to their host, would Hashem be willing to perform the miracle of splitting the sea, rather than subjecting them to do war with their former host.

This was demonstrated by Yoseif. When he ran away from the enticements of Poti Phera's wife, she grabbed his garment from him (39:12). Logically, he should have turned around and forcefully taken it back, so that she should have no incriminating evidence against him. (This question is raised by the Ramban).

The Ksav Sofer answers with the above concept. Yoseif did not want to turn against his hostess with physical force, even at the cost of leaving incriminating evidence in her hands. This act implanted this positive characteristic into future generations of bnei Yisroel. When the "yam suf" saw the casket that held Yoseif, the person who demonstrated and implanted the positive characteristic of "hakoras tovoh," gratefulness, into the bnei Yisroel, it was willing to cooperate even against its nature, and split. This avoided having the bnei Yisroel engage in direct combat with their former hosts, thus enabling them to show their gratefulness.

The Ksav Sofer says that now we have an understanding of the Rashi at the beginning of parshas Yisro (Shmos 18:1). On the words "Va'yishma Yisro," Rashi (gemara Z'vochim 116a) says that Yisro heard about the splitting of "yam suf" and the war with Amoleik. It is obvious that Yisro heard all that had happened. If so, why point out only these two happenings? The Ksav Sofer answers that Yisro was reluctant to come to the bnei Yisroel as he had once been a priest for idol worship in Midyon and feared that he might be rejected. Upon hearing of the splitting of the sea he wondered why a miracle was necessary and came to the same conclusion as above, that the bnei Yisroel did not want to forcefully stand up against their former hosts. This could indicate their gratefulness, although not conclusively. Perhaps they were unable to wage war. (Indeed this is the answer given by the Ibn Ezra.) When he also heard that they had successfully battled against the powerful Amoleik nation, he knew that they were capable of waging war, and the only reason the sea split was because the bnei Yisroel were imbued with the midoh of "hakoras tovoh." Upon seeing the sea split, indicating that the bnei Yisroel were imbued with gratefulness, he knew he would not be rejected, as he had given Moshe refuge at the time of his need. This is why Yisro came specifically upon hearing of the combined news of the splitting of the sea and the war with Amoleik.


The Likutei Mahara"n says that in Bmidbar 14:19 the first letters of the words, "Hazeh K'godel CHasdecho V'cha'asher Nososo" spell Chanukah.

The Rokei'ach says that the source word "OHR" appears in the Torah 22 times, many times with prefixes and suffixes. We also have the word "m'oros," three times. This adds six, as "m'oros" is plural. The source word, "NER" appears eight times, also mostly with prefixes and suffixes. This gives us a total of 36, the total number of lights kindled on Chanukah. As well, the maximum number of eight lights is alluded to in the eight appearances of the "NER" word form. He adds that at the first appearance of the word "OHR" (1:4) in the Torah, it says "ki Tov." The letter "Tes" of TOV, which usually has three crowns (tagin) on it, has four, to also allude to the 36 "neiros Chanukah," as the letter Tes equals 9, x 4 (four tagin) which equal 36.

The seven places in the Mishneh that Chanukah is mentioned:

Bikurim 1:6, Taanis 2:10, Rosh Hashono 1:3, Megilloh 3:4 and 3:6, Mo'eid Koton 3:9, and B.K. 6:6.

B.K. 6:6 is the ONLY PLACE that "NER CHANUKAH" is mentioned. A mnemonic: perek 6, mishneh 6. Six x six = 36, the amount of lights kindled on Chanukah.


Names in Tanach beginning with a Vov:

1) Vofsi in Bmidbar 13:14
2) Vashti in Megilas Esther 1:9
3) Va'y'zoso in Megilas Esther 9:9
4) Vashni in Divrei Hayomim 1:6:13

This is besides the following names that are under dispute, where the Vov at the beginning might not be part of the name.

1) V'ayoh (Breishis 36:24)
2) Vaanoh (Breishis 36:24)
3) Vo'heiv (Bmidbar 21:14)

The word Ayoh is a name that is undisputedly without a Vov and not a corruption of the name V'ayoh in Vayikroh 11:14. It is the name of a non-kosher bird species.


Ch. 33, v. 2: "V'es Rochel v'es Yosef acharonim" - Rashi comments that "acharon acharon choviv." The idea that "the best is saved for last" cannot be derived from here, since in this situation Yaakov wanted to distance his beloved Rochel as far as possible from Eisov. This has nothing to do with setting an order of speakers for example, and saying that the best is saved for last. However, there is a source for the best is saved for last from Shmos 12:35. There is a list of the objects that the bnei Yisroel took from the Egyptians: silver vessels, golden vessels, and garments. The Mechilta comments that this is listed in the order of "acharon acharon choshuv."

Two questions are raised on this point.

1) Why didn't Rashi say "Acharon acharon choshuv" earlier by Eliezer bringing out "klei kesef, klei zohov, u'v'godim" (24:53)? There is a difference in words between this verse and Shmos 12:35. In Breishis 24:53 the word "b'godim" is used for clothing and in Shmos 12:35 the word "smolos" is used, but this difference doesn't seem to help in alleviating the difficulty. An answer would be greatly appreciated.

Rabbi T.B. responded:

Lichvod Harav;
You ask: "Why didn't Rashi say "Acharon acharon choshuv" earlier by Eliezer bringing out "klei kesef, klei zohov, u'v'godim" (24:53)? The question is rather: What prompted Rashi to say "acharon choshuv" here? "Acharon acharon choshuv" is the answer to a question Rashi has in Shmos. He doesn't have that question in Bereishis. The Gur Arye (to Shmos 12:35) says that Rashi has to explain why HaShem told the Jews (Shmos 11:2) to get silver and gold, and didn't mention clothing, and now they are getting clothing, too. (See also Mechilta ad loc) Rashi's answer is: Shmos 11:2 is stated from the Jews' perspective, and they did not find clothing so important compared to silver and gold.

Here, (Shmos 12:35) the importance of the items is stated from the Egyptians' perpective, and they valued clothing above silver and gold. See Gur Arye (I recommend Hartman edition).

In the episode of Eliezer, there is no such question, hence there is no need to state "acharon chashuv".

To pick up on your point, that Eliezer's clothing is called 'begadim', and the Egyptians' is called 'simlos', I might offer a totally unverified suggestion:

Begadim may mean important garments, as we always call the kohanim's clothes bigdei kehuna, bigdei zahav, etc. Simlos may mean simple coverings, as in Devarim 22:17, referring to a bedsheet. This gives rise to an alternative answer to your question:

Perhaps it is not such a big chidush to list valuable "begadim" with silver and gold, and hence in the episode with Eliezer and Rivkoh, Rashi has no questions that need answering. Especially, Besuel at that time was poor (as the Malbim says). Perhaps the pasuk is telling us that Rivkoh valued the clothing even above silver and gold, because of its immediate utility (mikrava hanaseihu, see Kiddushin 8a about 1/3 down). As always, thank you again for your stimulating and inspiring work. B'vracha, T.B.

Thank you for your scholarly response. However, the Meshech Chochmoh says that "simloh" means clothing of stature, while "salmoh" means cheap clothing. This was mentioned in an earlier issue.

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