Pearls of Rashi – Parshas Vayigash II

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This week’s Parshah, Vayigash, continues the ongoing saga of Yosef’s encounters with his brothers. The brothers had no idea who he was. All that they knew was that he was the ruler of Egypt. Hence, they went to him seeking food during the years of famine.

Finally, Yosef could no longer stand the charade and revealed himself to his brothers[1]. It was a tearful reunion. Yosef told them to hurry back to Israel and let their father know that he was alive; they should also tell Yaakov that he was the leader of Egypt. The entire family should return to Egypt, where they would live in Goshen, the best part of the land. Yosef would personally take care of them.

Yosef gave presents to all of his brothers. “And to his father he sent the following; ten he donkeys carrying of the choicest products of Egypt, ten she donkeys carrying grain, bread, and other food …[2]

What is meant by “the choicest products of Egypt?” What was it that Yosef sent to his father? Rashi offers two explanations. The first is that according to the Gemorah, it refers to aged wine[3]. He then cites an explanation that “according to the Midrash Aggadah[4], this (the choicest produce of Egypt) refers to pounded beans.” We need to understand this. Of everything that Egypt produced, why were beans mainly considered the best?

One explanation is as follows. Yosef knew that when his brothers would tell Yaakov that he was still alive, they would have to say to him that they sold him, thereby causing Yaakov great anguish.

Therefore, he sent his father pounded beans, also known as Egyptian beans. One would think that something that one pounds loses quality. Nevertheless, it is precisely these pounded beans, which are called the choicest of Mitzraim. Even though the Tribes of Israel appeared to have been pounded, this made them stronger and more significant than ever. This was true to the extent that Yosef told his brothers that his being sold was beneficial. “It was to preserve life that Hashem sent me before you[5].”

There are many lessons that we can learn from this explanation. One is always to be careful that our actions and words have a positive effect on those around us. Another is never to assume that something is not good; after all, Hashem runs the world. And another is to judge everyone favorably.

I wish one and all a good Shabbos!

Rabbi Shmuel Mendelsohn

Adapted from Likkutei Sichos Volume 10, Page 151

Mr. Sholom Moshe Hacohen
ben Reb Shlomo Meir Hacohen ע”ה Cohen
Passed away Shabbos Parshas Beshalach, 13 Shevat, 5779
May His Soul be bound in the Eternal Bond of Life
* * *
לעילוי נשמת
ר’ שלום משה הכהן בן ר’ שלמה מאיר הכהן ע”ה כהן
נפטר ש”ק פ’ בשלח, י”ג שבט, ה’תשע”ט
ת. נ. צ. ב. ה.
יו”ל ע”י חתנו ובתו שיחיו
הרה”ת ר’ שמואל ורבקה שי’ מענדלסאהן

[1]. Our Parshah, Bereishis 45:1-3.

[2]. Our Parshah, Bereishis 45:23.

[3]. Tractate Megillah 16, b.

[4]. Bereishis Rabbah 94:2.

[5]. Our Parshah, Bereishis 45:5.

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