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פ' ויגש תשע''ט Volume 26, 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, Growth Through Torah by Zelig Pliskin and The Call of the Torah. ויאמר יוסף אל אחיו אני יוסף העוד אבי חי ולא יכלו אחיו לענות אתו כי נבהלו מפניו “And Yosef said to his brothers, ‘I am Yosef; is my father still alive?’ and his brothers could not answer him for they were startled before him.” (45:3) The Talmud (Chagigah 4b) remarks that Rabbi Elazar cried over this verse, for if human reproof is this powerful, how much more frightening will Divine reproof be! A similar comment is found in Bereshit Rabbah (93:10): “Woe unto us on the day of judgment…when G-d will rebuke each one according to what he is.” As many commentators point out, Yosef’s words stung because they lay bare his brothers’ hypocrisy. Just as Yehudah completes his tearjerker description of his old, shattered father, whose suffering would be intolerable, Yosef retorts, “Is my father still alive?” That is, “After the twenty-two years of grief that you have caused him, is he really still alive? Where was your concern for him all these years? Suddenly, all are ashamed into stunned silence. This is the meaning of the phrase “according to what he is”: each person’s inconsistencies will ultimately be thrown back to him. He who supposedly could not afford tzedakah or yeshivah tuition will be reminded of all the money he squandered on luxurious vacations and other foolishness. He who allegedly had not time for chessed or Torah study will be confronted with the thousands of hours he wasted. Fortunate is the man of consistency, for he alone will triumph before the Throne of Judgment. (Menachem Tzion) אל תירא “Have no fear…” (46:3) These encouraging words were spoken on different occasions to each of the three patriarchs: to Avraham after the war with the four kings (15:1); to Yitzchak during the quarrels with the Philistines and the shortage of water (26:24), and to Yaakov on his departure for the land of exile. These three promises of Divine protection, referring to different ordeals in life, make us conscious of the fact that Providence manifests itself at all times in all circumstances. They lead us to a trust in G-d which banishes fear and despair. (Vedebarta Bam) ואת יהודה שלח לפניו אל יוסף להורת לפניו גשנה “He sent Yehudah ahead of him to Yosef to prepare ahead of him in Goshen.” (46:28) The Hebrew spellings of the words גשן and משיח have the same numerical value of 358. And, it is not incidental that the residence of the Jewish people in Egypt was called גשן. Goshen stems from the word הגשה, which means to draw close, as we see in the verses, ויגש אליו יהודה, Then Yehudah approached (44:18), and ויאמר יוסף אל אחיו גשו נא אלי ויגשו ויאמר אני יוסף אחיכם, Then Yosef said to his brothers, “Come close to me, if you please,” and they came close. And he said, “I am Yosef, your brother” (45:4). Yosef reveals his identity only after they have drawn close to him. Only then could the extent of their mutual affection and brotherhood become manifest. Similarly, when all the Jewish people see themselves as brothers, approaching one another amicably – not cautiously or warily, from a distance – then we will also bring closer the geulah, the period of redemption. And then there is the alternative: ויראו אתו מרחק ובטרם יקרב אליהם ויתנכלו אתו להמיתו- They saw him from afar; and when he had not yet approached them, they conspired toward him to kill him (37:18). When they saw him from afar, when he had not yet approached them that is when they conspired to kill him. (Rabbi Nissan Alpert) ואת יהודה שלח לפניו אל יוסף להורת לפניו גשנה “He sent Yehudah ahead of him to Yosef to prepare ahead of him in Goshen.” (46:28) What need was there to mention Yosef? Would Yehudah, on arriving in Egypt to establish a Yeshivah, have approached anyone but him? But Yosef had told his brothers, “Tell my father of all my glory in Egypt and all that you saw” (45:13), namely, that his whole day was taken up with saving the lives of starving peoples of the earth. Most people think that saving lives is the greatest mitzvah of all, and that it absolves us not only from all the other mitzvot, but even from learning and spreading Torah. Yaakov therefore sent Yehudah to make it clear to Yosef that he was still obligated to establish yeshivot and spread Torah knowledge and the fear of G-d, as his forebears had done everywhere they went. For Torah study is even greater than saving lives (Megillah 15a). He was not to neglect either. (Vedebarta Bam) כל הנפש לבית יעקב הבאה מצרימה שבעים “The total of Yaakov’s household who came to Egypt was 70 people.” (46:27) By descending into the Egyptian exile, the Jewish people began the process of elevating and transforming the 70 nations of the world. Yocheved’s birth just before Yaakov’s family entered Egypt brought their number to 70, thus enabling Yaakov to begin the mission of refining the 70 nations. The process of transforming the world is twofold: first, we must cure the world of its opposition to holiness, and then, we must transform it into holiness. The former is the “masculine,” assertive approach, whereas the latter is the “feminine,” nurturing approach. Thus the commandments entrusted to women – ensuring that the family is nourished in accordance with the Torah’s laws, ensuring the safety and spiritual warmth of the home (as exemplified by kindling the Shabbat candles), and sanctifying marital life – are all ways of transforming the mundane aspects of ordinary human life into expressions of holiness. (Likutei Sichot) This week’s Divrei Torah are sponsored by Susan & Jim Frisch in memory of her father, Felix Samelson, Ephraim Fischel ben Zindel tz”l. For future sponsorship opportunities or to receive this publication, please call Steve Zuckerman at 516 652 5266 or email zkster@aol.com or Rabbi Lichter at ilichter@gns.org. Sponsorships in memory of or in honor of someone are $50.00 per issue.