פ’ ויגש – תשע”ה
Volume 6, Issue 11
INSIGHTS from the SEDRA
Insights from the Sedra is a project of the Scholar’s Kollel of Great Neck. It aims to provide several questions and answers about the Sedra, culled from various commentaries, including the following: Baal Haturim, Darash Moshe, Vedebarta Bam by Rabbi Moshe Bogomilsky, Torah Treasures by Dov Furer, Wellsprings of Torah by Alexander Friedman, and Kol Dodi by Rabbi Dovid Feinstein, Great Torah Lights by Rabbi Yitzchak Meir Goodman, Something To Say by Dov Wasserman, The Vilna Gaon, and Growth Through Torah by Zelig Pliskin.
ויהי כי עלינו אל עבדך אבי
“And it was when we went up to your servant my father…”(44:24)
Bnei Yaakov mentioned “Your servant, our father” ten times and Yosef heard these words and was quiet…quiet in the sense of acknowledgment. For this, Yosef’s life was shortened by ten years. (Yalkut Shimoni). The actual words however, are written in the Torah only five times, once in Parshas Mikeitz and four times in Parshas Vayigash. But Yosef heard these words five times from the interpreter as well. (Zayit Raanan)
ונפשו קשורה בנפשו
“His soul is bound up with his soul.” (44:30)
QUESTION: How did their souls become connected?
ANSWER: The word “keshurah” (קשורה) – “bound” – has the numerical value of 611, which is the same numerical value as the word “Torah” (תורה). Yaakov taught Binyamin Torah and through their Torah study, their souls became connected. Torah is the unifying language of the Jews of past, present, and future generations. (Vedebarta Bam)
והיה כראותו כי אין הנער ומת
“It will happen that when he sees the youth is missing he will die.” (44:31)
QUESTION: At that time, Binyamin already had ten children. Why wasn’t Yehudah worried that the children would die if they did not see their father returning home?
ANSWER: Yehudah was well aware that according to human nature a parent worries more about his children than children do about their parents. For example, often, a child will be late in coming home and not think of calling his parents who are “pulling their hair out” with worry. On the other hand, a parent will always do everything for his child, even if he is not happy with the way the child is behaving.
The trait of parents’ love and devotion for a child is inherited from birth. The heritage was handed down by Adam HaRishon to his children. On the other hand, Adam HaRishon did not know the compassion of a child for his parents, since he had no parents and did not have this feeling to pass on to his children. (Torah Gems)
ויאמר יוסף אל אחיו אני יוסף העד אבי חי
“Yosef said to his brothers, ‘I am Yosef; is my father still alive?’” (45:3)
QUESTION: The first time the brothers came to Egypt, Yosef asked them about his father. At their second arrival he again asked about his father. Why did he ask the question a third time?
ANSWER: When Yosef revealed himself to his brothers, he knew that they would be reluctant to believe him. He therefore gave them certain signs to prove who he was. This time Yosed was not asking his brothers, but saying in effect, “From my question you can realize that I am really your missing brother. Whenever we meet I only ask about my father and not about my mother, because I know that she died many years ago. If I were a stranger, and pretending, I would ask about both my father and my mother.” (Imrei Yehudah)
ואתנה לכם את טוב ארץ מצרים
“I will give you the best of Egypt…” (45:18)
While Bnei Yisrael were treated royally by the Egyptians as long as Yaakov’s sons were yet alive (see Rashi, Shemos 6:16), Rashi tells us that immediately following Yaakov’s death, they began to feel the onset of the bitter exile (see Rashi, 47:28). Yaakov lived in Egypt for seventeen years. It therefore follows that Bnei Yisrael truly enjoyed the best of Egypt for only seventeen years. The numeric value of טוב, the best, is 17.
This is also alluded to in the verse of Parshas Vayechi. There, the Torah tells us that ויחי, Yaakov lived in Egypt, for seventeen years – he enjoyed his best years during that time.* We are told additionally that Yosef was seventeen when his brothers sold him to Egypt, which means that the total number of years that Yaakov and Yosef were together for was 34 years, the numerical equivalent of ויחי, and he lived. (Kol Dodi)
וימר יוסף מרכבתו ויעל לקראת ישראל אביו גשנה וירא אליו ויפל על צואריו ויבך על צואריו עוד
“And Yosef harnessed up his chariot and went up to Goshen to greet Yisrael, his father, and he appeared to him and fell on his neck and wept on his neck continuously.” (46:29)
Rashi cites the comment of the Sages that Yaakov did not fall on the neck of Yosef and kiss him because he was reciting the Shema Yisrael at that moment.
I recall vividly how my father, Rabbi Shmuel Pliskin, of blessed memory, lived with this reality. He was in Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore after major surgery for cancer. I flew in from Yerushalayim to visit him after having been away for seven years. As I walked into his hospital room, he immediately said Shema Yisrael. Then he said the following: “Why did Yaakov choose this moment to recite the Shema? Why not earlier or later? The answer is that after not having seen his beloved son for so many years he was overwhelmed with profound feelings of love and joy. These feelings can be channeled for love of the Almighty. That is exactly the right moment to say Shema Yisrael. Moreover, forever after, the reciting of the Shema will bring out these feelings over and over again.”
While this is a concept I had heard before, I learned from my father how to internalize a Dvar Torah into a living reality. Torah insights are not merely ideas to be repeated, but are meant as instructions for living. As I write this I can once again feel the love my father had for me and the love which we should all feel for our Heavenly Father. (Growth Through Torah)
והיה בתבואת ונתתם חמישית לפרעה
“And when it shall be harvest time, you shall give a fifth to Pharaoh.” (47:24)
The Nachal Eliyahu finds allusion here to the Jewish nation’s term of enslavement in Egypt. The Torah (Shemos 12:40) tells us that the duration of the Egyptian exile was four hundred and thirty years. This count began at the time of the Covenant of the Pieces between G-d and Abraham; their actual sojourn in Egypt, however, lasted for no longer than two hundred and ten years, out of which only eighty-six were spent in real bondage. Eighty-six, we know, is exactly one fifth of four hundred and thirty. Therefore, when the Torah wrote that “you shall give a fifth to Pharaoh,” it was intimating that only one fifth of the total term of exile would be spent in actual bondage. (Torah Anthology)
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