פ’ וישב תשע”ט
Volume 26, 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, Growth Through Torah by Zelig Pliskin and The Call of the Torah.
“And Yaakov sat…” (37:1)
Rashi cites the sages who say that Yaakov wanted to live in peace and serenity. But it was not to be, and the troubles of his son Yosef began. The Almighty said, “Is it not sufficient for the righteous that they receive their reward in the world to come? Why do they need to live in serenity in this world?” The question arises: why is it wrong to want to live in serenity? Yaakov desired serenity not so that he could devote his time to personal pleasures, but rather to be able to engage in spiritual pursuits.
Rabbi Yeruchem Levovitz explained that the purpose of this world is for a person to elevate himself by passing the numerous tests that come to him. The goal is spiritual growth from every life situation. Therefore it was considered improper for Yaakov to place his focus on serenity. This, said Rav Yeruchem, is an attitude we should all internalize. Every occurrence in this world can make you a better person. When you have this awareness your attitude towards everything that happens to you in life will be very positive. Before, during, and after every incident that occurs reflect on your behavior and reactions. Ask yourself, “What type of person am I, after this happened? How did I do on this test? Did I pass it in an elevated manner?” (Daas Torah)
ועשה לו כתנת פסים
“And he made him a fine woolen tunic…” (37:3)
A person should never treat one child better than his other children. Yaakov made Yosef a woolen tunic, and because of this small amount of wool, the brothers became jealous of him. This set off the chain of events that brought them all down to Egypt. (Shabbos 10b)
“For twenty silver dinars…” (37:28)
Yosef was sold for twenty silver dinars, which is equal to five shekalim. The Amoraim discuss various mitzvot that help bring atonement for this money that the brothers had received improperly: R’ Shimon ben Lakish says that we redeem our firstborn sons for five shekalim, because Yosef the firstborn of Rachel, was sold for five shekalim. R’ Pinchas says in the name of R’ Levi that since each of the ten brothers involved in the sale of Yosef received a taba’ah, which is half a shekel, we are each obligated to give a half-shekel each year for the communal offerings. (Yerushalmi Shekalim 2:3)
הכר נא הכתנת בנך היא
“Identify, if you please, is it your son’s tunic…” (37:32)
Yehudah used the phrase, Identify, if you please, to tell his father of Yosef’s “disappearance.” He was punished measure for measure. Later, in the incident with Tamar, Tamar used the same phrase to him, saying, “Identify, if you please, whose ring is this, this wrap, and this staff (Sotah 10b).
שלשת הסלים שלשת ימים הם
“The three baskets are three days…” (40:18)
The numerical value of the words שלשת הסלים are equal to that of the wordsשלשת ימים הם, which is 1175. But what led Yosef to relate the three baskets to three days was the similarity of this dream to the chief cupbearer’s. (Rabbeinu Bachya)
ולא זכר שר המשקים את יוסף
“Yet the Chamberlain of the Cupbearers did not remember Yosef…” (40:23)
Rashi explains the cupbearer forgot Yosef on the very same day that he was liberated. The forgetfulness of the chief butler in the enjoyment of his own happiness is, alas, only too human. Nothing is more common than ingratitude. Man forgets – but G-d does not forget His faithful ones. And when the night is darkest, the dawn is already near. (Teachings of the Talmud)
וירא אדניו כי ה’ אתו וכל אשר הוא עשה ה’ מצליח בידו
“And Yosef’s masters saw that G-d was with him and everything that he did, G-d made successful in his hand…” (39:3)
Of all our Biblical figures, Yosef seems to be the ultimate success story. Sold into slavery, he is soon given free rein over his master’s estate. Framed by a vicious woman and cast into prison, he becomes assistant warden. Brought before Pharaoh, he instantly rises to prime minister! What is the secret of Yosef’s success?
The answer lies in a literal reading of our verse: “Everyone who does, G-d makes succeed.” The secret of success is toil, not surrender; effort and action, not sloth. Yosef never rested. He made himself useful, always doing, always full of ideas that he carried out himself. So, too, American Jewry has built great centers of learning and our brethren in Israel, despite monumental difficulties, have developed magnificent Torah communities and chessed institutions – all due to the mighty efforts of tireless people who’ve recognized no obstacles and never surrendered to “impossibility.” Therein lies the key to success. (Rabbi Raphael Pelcovitz)
Rabbi Shimshon Rephael Hirsch offers a similar reading: A person of great energy and talent can often do the work of three or four people. This is what the verse says about Yosef: “all that they would do there (i.e., the tasks it took them all to do) he would do (by himself)”!
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