CHAMISHOH MI YODEI'A - FIVE QUESTIONS ON THE WEEKLY SEDRAH - PARSHAS VA'YIGASH 5771 - BS"D
1) Ch. 44, v. 20: "Va'yivo'seir" - And he was left over - Compare this with the synonymous word "v'hu l'vado NISHOR" (42:38). What is the difference between these two terms and how does this clarify their usage in these two places?
2) Ch. 45, v. 4: "Ani Yoseif achichem" - I am your brother Yoseif - In the previous verse Yoseif disclosed his identity with the startling words "ani Yoseif." What is added with these words of our verse and in particular with "achichem"?
3) Ch. 45, v. 16: "V'hakole nishma beis Paroh leimore bo'u achei Yoseif va'yitav b'einei Faroh" - And the news was heard in the house of Paroh saying Yoseif's brothers have come and it was good in the eyes of Paroh - Why were so pleased?
4) Ch. 47, v. 19: "Lomoh nomus …… gam admo'seinu" - Why shall we die …… also our land - How does land die?
5) Ch. 47, v. 27: "Va'yei'ochzu voh va'yifru va'yirbu m'ode" - And they got a stronghold in it and they were fruitful and they multiplied greatly - What exactly were these matters?
Although both refer to Binyomin, commentators explain that the word form "yesser" is used when the "left over" is of minor importance, and "sh'air" means a remainder of prominence. Yehudoh was requesting that Yoseif permit him to be a slave in Binyomin's place, thus he denigrated Binyomin. When relating that their father was very reluctant to send Binyomin, it was related that he was "nishor," the prominent remaining son. Malbim explains that "yesser" means remaining by chance, and "sh'air" intentionally.
The gemara Sotoh 10b says that when King Dovid said the word "bni" seven times (Shmuel 2:19:1) he elevated his son Avsholom from the seven depths of Gehinom.
The Tumim explains how this worked. Although Avsholom was grievously guilty of revolting against his father, Dovid offered a defence for him with the word "bni." He stated that it was extremely contrary to human nature for a son to be so rebellious against his father. This was surely just the fulfillment of the prophecy "hin'ni meikim mi'beis'cho ro'oh" (Shmuel 2:12:11). This was a heavenly decree and Avsholom should be absolved of guilt. Each statement "bni" showed that he was a son, not a rebellious enemy, and Avsholom was elevated from the seven depths of Gehinom, one at a time.
Here too, Yoseif first said that he is Yoseif and his brothers feared him and his possible retribution. He went on to say "I am Yoseif your BROTHER." It is not natural for one to sell his brother into slavery. It must be that it was the result of a heavenly decree. Hence Yoseif added, "Lo a'tem shlachtem osi heinoh ki hoElokim" (verse 8), as well as "Va'yishlocheini Elokim lifneichem, "Ki l'michyoh shlochani Elokim." (Rabbi Ezra Attia)
Please note that this interpretation of Dovid's defence for Avsholom's actions seems contrary to the words of the Rada"k. He clearly states that Avsholom was totally responsible for all his actions. In spite of the prophecy mentioned above (Shmuel 2:12:11), no specific person from Dovid's household was mentioned, and Avsholom was free to behave as a son should towards his father, and especially a father who was the king. He equates this with the prophecy that a nation would enslave and pain the bnei Yisroel, and in spite of this the Egyptians were fully accountable (see Rambam hilchos teshuvoh 6:5).
This was most wonderful news for Paroh. People complained that Paroh appointed a jailbird as their leader, and that he was a slave to boot. Now that they found out that Yoseif was a member of the household of Avrohom, Yitzchok, and Yaakov, they were very pleased to have royalty be their viceroy. (Medrash Lekach Tov)
Alternatively, it was specifically because only the identity of these people as Yoseif's brothers came to the ears of Paroh, that he was pleased. Had he also heard "asher m'chartem osi" he would never have allowed them to remain in his country, let alone as honoured citizens. (Alshich Hakodosh)
The end of the verse answers this. Just as they requested seed to plant so that they could grow grain and sustain themselves, "v'nichyeh v'lo nomus," so too "v'ho'adomoh lo seishom," the land should not remain uncultivated. This is called death of the land. Simply put, not being productive is death, be it an animate or even an inanimate object. (Nirreh li)
Targum Yonoson ben Uziel explains some of these expressions. "Va'yei'ochzu," means that they built houses of Torah study and mansions, and also that they cultivated orchards and vineyards. Rabbeinu
Menachem explains "va'yifru" as they were fruitful by having many sons and daughters. "Va'yirbu" means that they were wealthy, and "m'ode," greatly, beyond the wealth of the Egyptians, because they were burdened with a 20% tax, while the bnei Yisroel were exempt.
It would seem that this last point might have played a role in the hatred the Egyptians harboured against the bnei Yisroel once the generation of Yaakov's sons died.
Perhaps this 20% tax was a precursor for the two 10% tithes the bnei Yisroel would eventually give, "maa'seir rishon" and "maa'seir sheini/oni" By being exposed to such a tax in Egypt, and noting the exemption for the clergy, and passing this piece of history on to future generations, the bnei Yisroel who would later inhabit Eretz Yisroel would find it easier to swallow these two tithes and to give them to Levites and the poor.
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