CHAMISHOH MI YODEI'A - FIVE QUESTIONS ON THE WEEKLY SEDRAH - PARSHAS VA'YICHI 5766 - BS"D
1) Ch. 47, v. 31: "Va'yishova lo" - Why did Yaakov extract a promise from
Yosef to bring his body back to Canaan? Hadn't Hashem already promised Yaakov
that he would be returned to Canaan (46:4)?
2) Ch. 48, v. 5: "Efrayim uMenasheh kiReuvein v'Shimon yi'h'yu li" - Why did
Yaakov give Yoseif the privilege of having tribal status bestowed upon his two
3) Ch. 48, v. 7: "Vaani b'vo'i miPadan meisoh olai Rochel b'eretz
Canaan......vo'ek'b're'hoh shom" - Rashi says that Yaakov told Yoseif that he did not
bring Rochel "lo'oretz," into Beis Lechem to bury her in "the land." The location
of Rochel's burial plot is in Eretz Yisroel, as this verse clearly states,
"meisoh olai Rochel b'eretz Canaan." Is this not plainly contrary to Rashi's
4) Ch. 48, v. 14: "Sikeil es yodov KI Menasheh ha'bchor" - If Ki is
translated here as "because" then the explanation given for Yaakov's switching his
hands is contrary to what he did. How do we explain this verse?
5) Ch. 48, v. 22: "Sh'chem ached al achecho" - Rashi offers that this refers
literally to the city of Sh'chem. We must then say that taking Sh'chem took
place with Yaakov's sword and bow, "asher lokachti b'charbi uvkashti," but the
verse in Breishis 35:5 says that the surrounding communities did not attack
because they feared the bnei Yisroel.
Answer to questions on parshas Va'yigash:
1) Chapter 44, v. 20: "V'ochiv MEIS" - Earlier (42:13) they said "v'ho'echod
EINENU." Why the change?
1) Tosfos Hasholeim answers that although they originally said they did not
know his whereabouts, once they had searched throughout Egypt for Yoseif and
did not find him, (as per M.R. 91:6), they assumed he was dead. A question on
this answer is that they had scoured all of Egypt before appearing in front of
Yoseif even the first time.
2) The Chizkuni says that there is no contradiction, as the word "ainenu"
can mean dead, as we find in Breishis 5:24 and Eichoh 5:7.
3) Tosfos Hasholeim offers another explanation of "v'ochiv meis." This
refers to Eisav, the brother of Yaakov. Although he is alive, evil people, even
while alive, are considered dead (Brochos 18b).
4) The Maharil Diskin answers that since Yoseif demanded that they bring
Binyomin, the brothers feared that he might ask for Yoseif, the missing brother,
to be brought as well. Yehudoh therefore said that in the interim they had
found out that their missing brother had died.
5) Possibly, since we also find that Yehudoh said in verse 28 that his
father said upon seeing the bloody garment, "A wild animal has torn him apart." He
was actually saying that his brother is ASSUMED dead by virtue of
circumstantial evidence. This is not contradictory to "EINENU." (Nirreh li)
2) Ch. 45, v. 3: "Ha'ode ovi choy" - Why did Yoseif ask this question since
he had already asked it earlier in 43:27, and the brothers had not been home in
1) The Moshav Z'keinim answers that this question means "Could it possibly
be that my father is still alive after having suffered so much."
2) Another answer the Moshav Z'keinim gives is that the earlier question was
literally, "Is he still alive," while here Yoseif was asking about his
3) His final answer and as well that of the Ralbag is that Yoseif was not
sure that they were telling the truth, as perhaps his father had already died,
and the brothers stated that he was alive to arouse sympathy for the plight of
their elderly father in the frozen heart of the ruler. Now that Yoseif had
revealed his true identity to his brothers he asked, "Is it true that my father
is still alive."
4) The Beis haLevi answers that this was not a straight-forward question,
but rather, an admonition. Yoseif told them off, "Here you plea for the release
of Binyomin because of the devastating hardship it would bring to his father
if he remains with me. Where was this consideration when you almost killed me
and then sold me into slavery?"
3) Ch. 45, v. 22: "U'l'Vinyomin nosan sholosh mei'os kesef" - The gemara
Megiloh 16a explains why giving Binyomin five sets of clothing and his brothers
only one each, did not kindle their jealousy, but what about the 300 kesef that
only Binyomin received?
1) The Rokei'ach answers that the gemara Gitin 44a says that one who sells
his Jewish slave to a non-Jew is fined up to ten times the value of the slave
to redeem him. Since the Torah puts the standard value of a slave at thirty
kesef (Shmos 21:32), Yoseif felt that his brothers owed him 300 kesef each. He
forgave them this amount, but to be fair to Binyomin who was not involved, he
gave him 300 kesef.
2) The Nachal K'dumim, in a similar vein, says that since Yoseif said that
Binyomin was to become a slave to Paroh, he felt that he owed Binyomin 300
kesef as per above calculation. Not so regarding the other brothers, whom he
3) The Chasam Sofer answers according to another opinion in the above
gemara, that one is fined up to 100 times the amount of the slave's value. The
brothers sold Yoseif for 20 kesef (37:28). The gemara Gittin 55b says that when
stolen goods are sold the usual reduction is a third. Yoseif should have been
sold for 30 kesef. Divide this by ten, as there were ten brothers involved,
and each brother was responsible for the value of three kesef. Since one is
fined up to 100 times the value of the slave, each brother was responsible for
300 kesef. Yoseif forgave them this amount, but to be fair to Binyomin who was
not involved, he gave him 300 kesef.
4) The Holy Admor of Ostrovtze answers that the brothers took equal turns
being at home to tend to their elderly father Yaakov. During the 22 years that
Yoseif was away, it averaged out that each brother spent two years with
Yaakov, and could not attend to his responsbilities as a shepherd (22 years divided
by 11 brothers = 2 years each). Had Yoseif not been sold, each brother would
have attended to Yaakov only 22 months (22 years divided by 12 brothers = 22
months). The loss of work opportunity by the brothers was their own doing. Not
so Binyomin, who lost out two months of work opportunity. The lowest level of
pay is for a guard of produce in the field, five kesef a day (as per gemara
B.K.). Two thirty day months = sixty days x five kesef = 300 kesef. Yoseif
gave this to Binyomin to make up for his loss.
4) Ch. 45, v. 24: "Va'yomar a'leihem 'Al tir'g'zu ba'do'rech'" - Why didn't
Yaakov give them the same advice before their descent to Egypt? (Actually this
question might have no basis according to some translations of the words "al
1) The Baal Haturim says that this means "Do not aggravate anyone on your
ascent to Eretz Yisroel by taking a short-cut through his field and assuming
that you will not get into trouble since I am the viceroy of this country."
Obviously Yaakov could not say the same for their trip down to Egypt.
2) The Ramban and Rashbam translate "al tir'g'zu" as "Do not fear." Yoseif
advised them that although he is sending them to Canaan with a large amount of
food during a time of dire famine, nonetheless, he has let out the word that
if anyone attempts to steal from them, the viceroy of the land will personally
take up the cause of punishing the perpetrators. Once again, this was not
relevant to Yaakov.
3) Rashi's second explanation is actually two explanations which are both
mentioned in the gemara Taanis 10b and M.R. 94:2. One is that they should not
travel in a hurried manner by taking very broad strides. Taking broad strides
diminishes one's eyesight (gemara Brochos 43b, Shabbos 113b, Taanis 10b). The
next explanation is that they should make sure to enter a city well before the
sun sets and not take a chance by traveling further, hoping to find a city in
which to lodge at sunset, for fear that they might not reach it in time and run
the risk of traveling at night which is fraught with much danger (gemara
P'sochim 2a, Taanis 10b, Bovo Kamo 60b).
4) Either of these two explanations would not apply to their descent to
Egypt, as on the way up to Eretz Yisroel they were very eager to get to their
destination as soon as possible to give Yaakov the wonderful news about his son
Yoseif. Yoseif therefore advised them to not do anything rash to speed up the
trip. One could argue that on the way down they were also propelled by their
eagerness to procure food. However, their fear of meeting with the unpredictable
viceroy likely slowed down their steps. On the first trip down they were not
propelled because they actually had sufficient food at that time and only went
to put on a show for their surrounding neighbours that they were also in need
of food (See Rashi on 42:1 d.h. "Lomoh tisro'u")
5) Rashi's third (fourth) explanation is that they should not get into an
argument on their way back as to who was responsible for the wrongdoing to
Yoseif. Again, this is not applicable to Yaakov.
However, as explained in the gemara Taanis 10b that this means "Do not
discuss in depth matters of halacha during your travels," the question is viable.
The following answers are offered:
6) Yaakov did not have to tell them to avoid immersing themselves into
discussions of halacha which obviously brings with it the possibility of getting
lost on the way or not noticing the approach of highway robbers etc. Since
Yaakov was convinced that Yoseif met an untimely death while en route, he assumed
that the brothers would have this permanently etched into their minds and
always be careful to pay rapt attention to all happenings during their travels.
Yoseif's brothers however, knew that he was alive and well and might not be
careful during their travels, so Yoseif warned them.
7) It was obvious to Yaakov that his sons realized that immersing themselves
into halacha while traveling would at the least slow them down. His command
that they purchase and return with food to stave off the hunger of the
household was sufficient reason for them to not delay in any manner, to properly
fulfill the mitzvoh of honouring one's father. Upon their discovering the identity
of the viceroy of Egypt and realizing that their father and his lost son
Yoseif would now reunite after 22 years of separation would obviously lead them to
the conclusion that learning Torah is greater than honouring one's parents.
Since Yaakov was actually separated from his father an additional 14 years while
attending the Yeshiva of Eiver and he would not suffer in kind to be
separated from Yoseif for 36 years, they would conclude that the learning of Torah is
greater than honouring one's parents. They might therefore allow themselves to
tarry on the way by immersing themselves in halacha. Therefore Yoseif had to
warn them to not do so, but rather reach their father without delay. (Eimek
5) Ch. 46, v. 1: "LEi'lo'kei oviv Yitzchok" - Rashi quotes the M.R. 94:5
which says that we can derive from this that one has a greater responsibility to
honour his father than his grandfather. The Mahari"k in shoresh #30 says that
one's grandfather is not different from a complete stranger. Is this not
contrary to the M.R.?
This question is raised by the Taz on Y.D. #240:24.
1) The M'ginei Zohov answers the difficulty of the Taz. The gemara Sotoh
49a states clearly that one has no special responsibility of "Kibud Ov' for
one's mother's father. He equates a father's father to a mother's father. The
Mahari"k rules as per this gemara against the M.R.
2) The M'ginei Zohov's grandson, the R'vid Hazohov, (with all due respect to
his grandfather) disagrees with him. He differentiates between a maternal and
a paternal grandfather, as we see the Torah differentiates in Dvorim 4:9.
3) The R'vid Hazohov, however, brings two other proofs for the Mahari"k's
position. They are from the gemara Makos 13b regarding being a "go'eil hadam"
when one's grandfather killed accidentally, and the Toras Kohanim 20:98
regarding the death penalty for cursing one's grandfather.
4) Rabbi Akiva Eiger in his responsa #68 in the name of the Liv'yas Chein
differentiates between when one's father is living and when he is not.
Interestingly, he says that when one's father is living, there is a greater
responsibility to honour one's grandfather than his own father.
5) The Chut Hamshulosh says that the responsibility to honour one's
grandfather during his father's lifetime is not an intrinsic mitzvoh towards one's
grandfather, but rather a manner of showing honour to one's father via honouring
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