Pearls of Rashi – Vayeishev II

We learn in this week’s Parshah, Vayeishev, of a dispute between Yosef and his brothers. The Torah tells us that[1] “Yisroel (Yaakov) loved Yosef more than all of his other sons, because he was a son of his old age. He made Yosef a fine woolen coat.”

Ultimately the brothers threw Yosef into a pit[2]. They did not want their father to know what they had done; therefore, the Torah tells us as follows[3]. “They took Yosef’s coat, slaughtered a kid, and dipped the coat in the blood. They sent the fine woolen coat, and brought it to their father, and said, ‘We have found this; recognize whether this is your son’s coat or not.’ He recognized it and said, ‘It is my son’s coat; a wild beast has devoured him; Joseph has surely been torn up.’”

Rashi cites the words “a wild beast has devoured him,” and explains as follows. “(Even though the brothers did not tell Yaakov, one would think that Hashem would tell him.) Why did He not do so? Because the brothers excommunicated and cursed anyone who would reveal this, and they included Hashem in their court.

We need to understand why the brothers felt the need to make the Almighty a part of the excommunication and the curse which they issued. After all, they themselves constituted a Bais Din – meaning a Jewish ritual court. One explanation for this is that they were afraid that one of them might come to regret their actions.

There is a Halachic method to annul a vow. However, if Hashem is part of the court which issued the excommunication, it could not be annulled without His approval. None of them could “back out.” In fact, we see that ultimately the “secret” was revealed to Yaakov. Further on the Torah tells us that[4] “Yaakov saw that there was grain being sold in Egypt …” Rashi questions the use of the word “saw.” How can we say that Yaakov saw that there was grain in Egypt? Rashi explains that “What then is the meaning of ‘saw?’ He saw with the divine “mirror” that he still had hope in Egypt. However, this was not true prophecy. It did not explicitly inform him that this was Yosef.”

Once they received this Divine “sign,” they went to look for Yosef. When the finally found him, they knew that the time had come to tell their father.

Everything has its proper time. It may seem frustrating, but occasionally we must wait for the right time.

Wishing everyone a good Shabbos.

Rabbi Shmuel Mendelsohn

Adapted from Likkutei Sichos Volume 35, Beginning with Page 161

Mrs. Brocha bas Reb Tzvi Nechemiah Hacohen O.B.M. Cohen
Passed away on 8 Shevat, 5778
May Her Soul be bound in the Eternal Bond of Life
* * *
לעילוי נשמת
מרת ברכה בת ר’ צבי נחמי’ הכהן ע”ה כהן
נפטרה ביום ח ‘שבט, ה’תשע”ח
ת. נ. צ. ב. ה.
יוצא לאור ע”י בני משפחתה שיחיו

[1]. Our Parshah, Bereishis 37:3.

[2]. There is much more to this story than meets the eye; Yosef’s brothers were righteous. They would not try to kill hm out of mere jealousy. Rather they formed a rabbinic court, and judged him for what they perceived were sins. They then sentenced him to a death penalty. See Rashi’s comments to our Parshah, Chapter 37 in detail.

[3]. Our Parshah, Bereishis 37:31-33.

[4]. Parshas Mikeitz, Bereishis 42:1.

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