Chamishoh Mi Yo'dei'a

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by Zvi Akiva Fleisher

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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 sons?

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 words?

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 between?

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 general welfare.

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 never enslaved.

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 tir'g'zu.")

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 Halacha)

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 his grandfather.



See also Sedrah Selections, Oroh V'Simchoh - Meshech Chochmoh on the Weekly Parsha and Chasidic Insights

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