פ’ וישב תשע”ח
Volume 21, Issue 9
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.
והבור רק אין בו מים
“The pit was empty of water…”(37:24)
Allegorically, the pit represents the human mind and water represents the Torah. This incident thus tells us that the surest way to keep our mind free of “snakes and scorpions” – negative and destructive notions – is to ensure that it is always full of Torah-related content, for “G-d’s Torah is wholesome, restoring the soul.” (Likutei Sichot)
ויכירה ויאמר כתנת בני חיה רעה אכלתהו טרף טרף יוסף
“He recognized it and he said, ‘it’s my son’s coat, a wild beast has devoured him, Yosef has been ripped apart again and again.’” (37:33)
The Chasam Sofer explains that Yaakov was being punished – measure for measure. He had deceived his own father Yitzchak by replacing the deer meat Yitzchak was expecting with a young goat slaughtered by him (the taste being similar; see Rashi, Breishit, 27:9). Now, Yaakov’s sons deceived him, simulating an attack by a ravage animal, by means of a young goat slaughtered by them. That is why “his father,” meaning Yitzchak, “cried for him” (verse 35). Aware that he had a part in the cause of Yaakov’s pain, he wept for him. (Torah Anthology)
ויוסף הורד מצרימה ויקנהו פוטיפר סריס פרעה
“And Yosef was brought down to Egypt, and he was purchased by Potiphar, an officer of Pharaoh.” (39:1)
Yosef suffered tragedy after tragedy. First, he was sold as a slave in Egypt, and then he was thrown into prison to languish for many years. Bu this terrible period in his life also gave him the title by which he is known for all time: Yosef HaTzaddik. There are very few people in Jewish history that are given the title “Tzaddik”. The descent of Yosef turned out to be an opportunity that gave him the ability to achieve great accomplishments and to acquire immortal greatness. It is for this very reason that we refer to him as Yosef HaTzaddik. (Torah Tavlin)
וישאל את סריסי פרעה…לאמר מדוע פניכם רעים היום
“He asked Pharaoh servants…‘Why are your faces so downcast today.’” (40:7)
Yosef had suffered horrible humiliations. It would have been logical for him to become absorbed in his own pain, angry at the world. But Yosef did not become bitter. He remained sensitive to others and to his Divine mission in life. Not only did he perceive the anguish of Pharaoh’s servants, he reached out to help them. To Yosef, the fact that G-d had arranged for him to notice someone in need indicated that it was his duty to help.
As the result of this one, seemingly minor good deed, Yosef became the viceroy of Egypt, and was able to save the civilized world from famine. We see here, once again, the unimaginably far-reaching results that can come from one small good deed. (Likutei Sichot)
ולא זכר שר המשקים את יוסף וישכחהו
“The butler did not remember Yosef, and he forgot him.” (40:23)
QUESTION: If he did not remember him, obviously he forgot him! Why the two expressions of forgetting: “v’lo zachar” and “vayishkacheihu”?
ANSWER: Yosef originally asked the butler to mention him to Pharaoh. The ungrateful butler, whose life was saved through Yosef’s interpretation, did not return the favor to Yosef. In addition, the torah tells us that Yosef immediately regretted asking the butler to him a favor. He forgot about the butler entirely and put all his faith in Hashem. Thus, each one forgot about the other. (Vedebarta Bam)
וישב את שר המשקים אל משקהו…ואת שר האפים תלה כאשר פתר להם יוסף
“The butler was returned to his position, and the baker was hung in accordance with Yosef’s interpretation.” (40:22-23)
QUESTION: What clue in their dreams led Yosef to this interpretation?
ANSWER: Yosef carefully studied their words. The butler said, “The cup of Pharaoh was in my hand; I took the grapes; I squeezed them; I placed the cup on Pharaoh’s palm” (40:11). Yosef saw that the butler dreamt about doing things. Since one can only do things if he is alive, Yosef saw in his dream a sign of life.
The baker told Yosef, “On my head were baskets full of baked goods and a bird was eating from the baskets.” The dream was totally lacking human activity. He did not say who baked the goods, or who put the baskets on his head, nor did he do anything to chase the bird away. Moreover, a bird is usually afraid of a person and will not come near food which a person holds.
Yosef said to the baker, “You were carrying basket of baked goods and a bird was eating from them; obviously the bird did not consider you alive. Consequently, your dream indicates that Pharaoh will soon put you to death.” (Iturei Torah)
This week’s publication is sponsored by Debbie & Hal Chadow in commemoration of the shloshim following the passing of Debbie’s father, Ira Sefaradi tz”l, Binyamin ben Yaakov. For future sponsorship opportunities please call Steve Zuckerman at 516 652 5266 or email firstname.lastname@example.org or Rabbi Lichter at email@example.com. Sponsorships in memory of or in honor of someone are $50.00 per issue.