Meir Tzvi Berman

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Parsha Vayeshev


"V'hinay Orchas Yishmelim Ba'ah MiGilad V'Gmaleyhem Nosim Nochos V'tzri Volot" "And behold; There was a caravan of Ishmaelites coming from Gilad and their camels were carrying spices and balm and labdanum"

Rashi explains that when the verse relates that "their camels were carrying spices and balm and laudanum" the Torah is not merely providing us with a bit of trivia. Hashem had caused this particular caravan of Ishmaelites to carry spices, although Ishmaelites usually deal exclusively in kerosene and oil. This was in order for Yosef (Joseph) to be spared the evil smell of kerosene during his trek to Egypt. Hashem wanted to protect the righteous Yosef from any additional suffering.

To appreciate the meaning of this insight try to imagine yourself in Yosef's position. Picture yourself as a seventeen-year-old boy sold as a slave to foreigners headed to a distant land. Would the kind of merchandise your captors carried matter to you? Would your suffering be noticeably affected by the smells of their cargo? Most likely someone in such a position would be too absorbed in his fate as a slave to care whether he is surrounded with spices or with kerosene. Why then, did Hashem deliberately orchestrate Yosef's journey to Egypt in a way that he was spared from the smell of petroleum in an exceptional fashion but was allowed to suffer as a slave in a strange land?

R' Dovid Soloveitchik Shlita explains that Hashem's judgment of a person's fate is extremely precise. If Hashem decrees a certain amount of suffering on a person for whatever reason, then not one extra iota of suffering will be visited upon that person. Hashem had decreed that Yosef would be sold into slavery, but any additional suffering would be prevented even by extraordinary means. (Shai L'Torah)


"Vayimoen, Vayomer Ell Eishas Adonav Hein Adoni Lo Yoda Iti Ma Babayis V'chol Asher Yesh Lo Nosan Biyadi. Ainenu Gadol Babyis Hazeh Mimeni V'lo Chosach Mimeni Meumah Ki Eem Osach Ba'asher At Ishto V'aich Eessah Horo'oh Hag'dola Hazos V"chatosi L'Elokim"

"And he refused, and he said to the wife of his master "Behold, my master does not know with me what is in the house, and all that is to him he has placed (entrusted) in my hands. There is none greater in this house than me and he has not withheld from me anything but you, being that you are his wife, And how can I do this tremendous bad deed and I would sin to G-d"

The first thing Yosef said to Potifarís wife was no. Afterwards he gave her a compelling argument, saying in effect, "How can I betray a man who blindly trusts me and accords me respect as the head steward of his household? How can I commit such a heinous crime?

Yosef's technique in withstanding temptation is the most effective way. There are always enough excuses and rationalizations to counter even the strongest reasons for doing the right thing. One must first strengthen his resolve to act correctly before engaging in a dialogue with the Evil Inclination. (Sífas Emes)

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