Chamishoh Mi Yo'dei'a

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by Zvi Akiva Fleisher

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1) Ch. 37, v. 15: "Leimore mah t'va'keish" - Saying what do you seek - The word "leimore" seems superfluous.

2) Ch. 37, v. 23: "Es kutonto es k'so'nes hapasim" - His tunic his colourful tunic - Since "kutonto" refers to his lower garment, why does the verse mention the removal of his undergarment ahead of his over garment, since the over garment was obviously removed earlier?

3) Ch. 39, v. 20: "Va'yitneihu el beis hasohar" - The previous verse relates that upon Potifar's hearing his wife's (false) report about Yoseif's advances to her, "va'yichar apo," he was angered. If so, why didn't he have Yoseif, his slave, killed?

4) Ch. 40, v. 16: "Va'yar sar ho'ofim ki tov posar" - How did he know that Yoseif divined the dream well?

5) Ch. 40, v. 22: "V'lo zochar sar hamashkim es Yoseif va'yishkocheihu" - If he didn't remember him isn't obvious that this is because he forgot him?



1) It means that he spoke in a loud voice. (Rabbeinu Menachem)

2) In a manner of drush, perhaps we can say that since the angel knew that this was the beginning of Yoseif's odyssey, and that he would be plunged into the darkest of situations, he gave him advice that would stand in his good stead. Yoseif was to be sold into slavery and eventually end up in jail. He would be brought in front of the Egyptian king. The advice was that in spite of his deplorable situation, he should not mope and be enveloped in his sorrowful situation, but rather, he should seek out the welfare of all those with whom he came into contact. When enslaved in the house of Potifar, he was so loyal that he was entrusted with almost all household matters. When in jail for numerous years he saw the doom and gloom on the face of the wine-butler and the baker. Instead of just ignoring them, after all, there is ample reason to be gloomy when incarcerated, he asked why they were long-faced. This was the vehicle that brought about not only his release, but even giving him an audience with the king and being elevated to the position of viceroy. This is "leimore mah t'va'keish." Always say, "mah t'va'keish." What is it that YOU seek? (Nirreh li)


1) Paa'nei'ach Rozo answers that the brothers removed his garments in a quick rough manner, not slowly taking the garments off layer by layer, but rather, grabbing all the layers and quickly stripping them off at once. Thus the garments turned inside out, and the undergarments came off ahead of the outer ones.

2) Alternatively, since Yoseif traveled a distance to meet his brothers, he wore his regular simple tunic above his fancy one, to protect it while traveling.


1) He indeed wanted to have Yoseif killed immediately. His wife still had plans of seducing Yoseif. She therefore told him that since he spent a tidy sum to purchase him it was illogical to lose it. She therefore advised him to have Yoseif incarcerated and when the opportunity would arise he would sell him and recoup some or all of his investment. She went to the jail and further enticed Yoseif daily. (Medrash Tanchuma)

2) He was not angered with Yoseif. Rather, he was angry when his wife told him that she blabber-mouthed the incident to all members of their household. This caused him untold embarrassment. (Medrash Seichel Tov)

3) Potifar had grown very fond of Yoseif, so he had mercy on him. (Ramban, Tur)

4) Since he knew of Yoseif's righteousness he doubted her words. (Ramban, Tur)

5) He figured that if he were to put Yoseif to death everyone would believe beyond a doubt that Yoseif violated his wife. By only incarcerating him people would be in doubt. (Ramban, Tur)

6) He had fear of Hashem's retribution for having Yoseif killed. He recognized that "Hashem ito," Hashem was with Yoseif. (Ramban, Tur)

7) It was indeed a miracle that he reacted with clemency. (Ramban, Tur)

8) Once Yoseif left the premises, Potifar's wife prepared false circumstantial evidence. She planted some egg white on a couch and showed it to members of the household, claiming that this was Yoseif's seed. Potifar asked for counsel of the clergy. They investigated and heated the suspicious evidence. It whitened and coagulated, the response of egg white and not that of human seed. Potifar's wife's claim was clearly proven false. Potifar was in a quandary. If he were to publicize that she falsely libeled Yoseif and she had attempted to seduce him, all would know that she lived a loose lifestyle, and in all likelihood she had succeeded in seducing others. All Potifar's children's lineage would now be in doubt. If he were to kill Yoseif and not publicize the results of the clergy's test, all would believe beyond a doubt that Yoseif violated his wife. By only incarcerating him people would be in doubt. This last point is the same as answer #5. By only having him jailed, people would be in doubt and with the passage of time the stigma might dissipate. (Medrash Seichel Tov as expounded by Y'fei To'ar)

9) Yoseif was brought in front of the king to be judged. Gavriel appeared in the form of a human and told the king that by taking note of whose garment was ripped, the truth would emerge. If Potifar's wife's garment was ripped, it was obvious that Yoseif ripped them, but if Yoseif's garment was ripped, it proves that she attacked him. Yoseif was thus proven innocent but still had to be incarcerated so that it seemed that he was guilty. This was a cover-up for Potifar's wife's lying. (Chizkuni in the name of Agodoh)

10) Similar to above, only the test was if Yoseif's garment was ripped in the front it proves that he was about to forcibly violate her and she reacted by ripping his clothing. If the rip was in the back, it proves that Yoseif was running away and she grabbed onto his garment to keep him there. (Rosh and others in the name of the medrash)

11) He was ready to kill Yoseif, but his daughter Osnas, a mere baby, told him that she was witness to all that happened, and it was Potifar's wife who was the seducer. (Medrash Avkir)

12) See verse 12 and 13 and note the different wordage, "va'yonos va'yeitzei hachutzoh" and "va'yonos hachutzoh." Kli Yokor and others explain that Yoseif ran away from her, but once he left the building he calmly walked outside and further away, to not arouse people's attention. When Potifar's wife told over what happened she intentionally left out "va'yeitzei" to indicate that once she screamed, the guilty party totally lost it and even ran while he was outside. Once Potifar saw this contradiction, as people who were stationed outside the building testified that he did not run while outside, he was in doubt, so he did not kill Yoseif. (Nirreh li)

13) The gemara Sotoh says that when there is infidelity in the house, be it the man or the woman, it usually spreads to the spouse. People have urges to sin with others but faithfulness to their marriage partner keeps them on the straight and narrow. Potifar had great urges for involvement with Yoseif, to the point that it brought him to become impotent, as related by Rashi. Knowing his own shortcomings in this realm, he similarly felt that his wife was guilty, and her claims were a lie. (Nirreh li) #4

1) He dreamed not only his own dream but also the proper interpretation of the wine steward's dream. (Rashi)

2) It simply rang true to him. (Rashbam)

3) Since Yoseif divined that the results of the dream would take place very shortly it was a proof that he was accurate. If he was just guessing, and likely his explanation would not end up being true, he would say that matters would take place much later. (Paa'nei'ach Rozo)

4) As a dream is interpreted, thus becomes its actual outcome (gemara Brochos). "Tov posar" does not mean that he interpreted the dream accurately, but rather, that he interpreted for the good. If so, the bakery minister was eager to have Yoseif divine his dream too. (Paa'nei'ach Rozo)


1) The verse is explaining that his not remembering Yoseif was not his placing no importance in the mission. Rather, it is because "va'yishkocheihu," Hashem made him forget. (Rabbi Avrohom ben hoRambam in the name of Ibn Chofni)

2) He did not remember and he forgot to even have the information passed on to the king through an intermediary. (Baa'lei Tosfos)

3) He did not remember him verbally to the king and he totally forgot him even in his heart. (Ibn Ezra)

4) He did not remember him immediately after he was released, and even for a long time afterwards he forgot him. (Rashi)



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

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