by Zvi Akiva Fleisher
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SEDRAH SELECTIONS PARSHAS VA'YEISHEV 5771 BS"D
Ch. 37, v. 1: "Va'yeishev Yaakov" - And Yaakov resided - Pirkei d'Rebbi Eliezer cites the verse, "Lo sholavti v'lo shokat'ti v'lo nochti va'yovo rogez" (Iyov 3:26), explaining that these four terms refer to Lovon, Eisov, Dinoh, and Yoseif. The Chid"o cites Nimukei Rabbeinu Efrayim who says that the opening word of our parsha, Va'yeishev, alludes to these four challenges. Take the second letter of each of these four, Y*O*seif, D*I*noh, Ei*S*ov, and Lo*V*on, and you have the letters of VaYeiSheV. At the same time the Chid"o points out that eventually Yaakov had tranquility, as indicated by the letters of Va'yeishev, when transposed, spell "yishuv." Although Yaakov's earlier years were challenged with these incidents, Va'yeishev again gives us a mnemonic message of "Yisurim Bat'chiloh, V'libsof SHalvoh.
Ch. 37, v. 1: "Va'yeishev Yaakov" - And Yaakov resided - Rashi says that Yaakov wanted to live in tranquility, and the wrath of the incident of Yoseif sprung upon him. Why was the wrath of the Yoseif incident a result of Yaakov's wishing to live in tranquility? Although in fact Yaakov received his father's blessings, which were in the main physical blessings (as per numerous commentators), Yitzchok actually wanted to give these blessings to Eisov. Nevertheless, Yaakov felt that we do not take this into consideration, but rather, only that which really happened. If so, when he showed favouritism towards Yoseif, which he felt was in place because he had wanted to marry Rochel and would likely have had Yoseif as his first-born, rather than towards Reuvein, who was factually his first born, he was burning the candle at both ends. He therefore had to go through challenging times because he treated Yoseif as his first-born. (K'hilas Yitzchok)
Ch. 37, v. 1: "Va'yeishev Yaakov" - And Yaakov resided - Rashi says that Yaakov wanted to live in tranquility, and the wrath of the incident of Yoseif sprung upon him. Why did Yaakov deserve so much suffering for simply wanting to live in tranquility? The use of the term "kofatz," that the anguish SPRUNG upon Yaakov is the key to the answer. There was to be an exile in any case, as Hashem told Avrohom that his descendants would be enslaved in another land. However, the cog of this plan, that Yoseif would go down to Egypt and this would bring to the exodus of all the bnei Yisroel to Egypt could have begun later. Yoseif could have been brought down to Egypt and almost immediately been incarcerated, shortly afterwards be brought to Paroh to divine his dreams, etc. The events beginning earlier and Yoseif's being away for much longer was the result of "bikeish Yaakov leisheiv b'shalvoh," not the event itself altogether. (Chid"o citing Rabbeinu A. Ashkenazi) This seems to be akin of the words of Tosfos on the gemara Shabbos 10b d.h. "v'nisgalgal," where he writes that "vaavodum v'inu osom" (Breishis 15:13) could have been for a much shorter time if not for Yaakov's favouring Yoseif and giving him a special tunic of "milas," which had the weight of two "slo'im."
Ch. 37, v. 14: "Leich noh r'ei es shlome achecho v'es shlome hatzone v'hashiveini dovor" - Go now see the welfare of your brothers and the welfare of the sheep and bring me back a response - Rashi says that Yoseif had spoken badly of his brothers in three matters, that the sons of Leah belittled the sons of the concubines, that they ate "eiver min hachai," and that they were suspect in moral matters. Yaaskov, in these words of our verse asked Yoseif to clarify these three matters. He asked Yoseif to find out if there is peace among the brothers, and there is no acrimony between Leah's sons and the concubines sons, that the sheep are complete, and no organs were hacked off them and consumed, and "dovor," meaning moral matters, as the gemara Gitin derives that testimony regarding immoral behaviour requires two witnesses, based on the comparison common word "dovor," found both by money matters, where it is well established that two witnesses are required, and moral matters. (Mishnas d'R' Aharon).
Ch. 37, v. 35: "Va'yimo'ein l'hisnacheim" - And he refused to be consoled - Rabbi Meir Kotler died at quite a young age and many, many people came to be "m'nacheim o'vel" his father HRH"G R' Shneur Kotler zt"l. Understandably, the death of a child is a most difficult and painful loss. Although many people said words of consolation, the Rosh Ha'yeshivoh said that he felt consoled by the Holy Admor of Bluzhev, Horav Shapiro zt"l. The Admor said to the Rosh Ha'yeshivoh that he was jealous of the Rosh Ha'yeshivoh's situation, where his son died, and yet merited to be amply eulogized, to have an honourable burial, and the place of his burial is known and would be visited. When his children were killed in the war there was no eulogy, and no known location of burial. The Rosh Ha'yeshivoh realized that as challenging as his situation was, people have gone through a lot worse.
Ch. 38, v. 18: "Vatomar chosomcho ufsilcho umatcho asher b'yo'decho" - And she said your signet ring and your garment and your staff that is in your hand - Why did Tomor ask for these items specifically? She used her strategy to bring herself to Yehudoh to enact a sort of yibum, as explained by commentators. However, if Yehudoh had the status of a king this could not happen, as a king is prohibited to perform yibum. At the same time Yehudoh seemed to be deposed from his position, as explained by Rashi on the words, "Va'yeired Yehudoh mei'eis echov" (38:1), that he was lowered from his position of greatness. Being in doubt if he still retained the status of king she asked for these items as a surety, as the gemara says that one may not make use of the king's scepter. Since he agreed to give her these items she went ahead with her plan to enact yibum. (Chasam Sofer)
Ch. 38, v. 21: "A'yei hakdeishoh hee vo'einayim al hado'rech" - Where is the prostitute she is at the crossroads - B'derech drush: Where is the sanctity, "Kedushoh?" How does one maintain his sanctity? The answer is: "hee vo'einayim al hado'rech." It can be maintained through one's keeping his eyes on the road as he walks in a public setting, rather than on all the people who traverse the roads, many among them being dressed most improperly. (n.l.)
Ch. 38, v. 24: "Hotziuhoh v'siso'reif" - Take her out and have her burned - Rabbi Yehudoh Chosid explains that this does not mean that she should be put to death by burning her. Rather, it means to scar her face through burning and she should have a permanent prominently displayed mark as a sign of her improper behaviour. It is interesting to note that the Rosh in his response klal 18 simon 13 ruled "halacha l'maa'she" to distort the face of a widow who sinned with a Yishmoeili so that she no longer be attractive to men and this would serve as a deterrent against future sinning.
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