Thursday, December 24, 2009

Thursday's Parsha Tidbits - Parshas Vayigash

The following is a brief summary of a thought said over by R' Frand in his shiur this evening. I have attempted to reproduce this vort to the best of my ability. Any perceived inconsistency is the result of my efforts to transcribe the shiur and should not be attributed to R' Frand.

Parshas Vayigash begins with the confrontation between Yehudah and Yosef over the fate of Binyamin. In addressing Yosef, Yehuda tells the story which has been said to Yosef numerous times before - they are just brothers who left their father behind and came down to get food. Following his recitation, the Torah states at Vayigash 45:1 that Yosef was not able to hold back and he revealed his identity. But what was different about this recounting of the brothers' story that caused Yosef to break down?

A second question was asked about Yehuda's offer to take Binyamin's place (44:33). Rashi explains that Yehuda said that he was superior to Binyamin and would be a better captive as he was better in strength, war and for service. The Sifsei Chachamim asks - what does Rashi mean by strength?

A third question was asked in relation to a Tosefta in Berachos wherein four rabbanim were debating why Yehuda was zocheh to malchus. Initially they offered that it related to his honesty by admitting that Tamar was correct, but this was rejected, as was the theory that it related to his suggestion that Yosef be sold into slavery rather than killed. The rabbis ultimately decided that it was because of Yehuda's humility. However they do not explain why the humility was the deciding factor.

In order to answer these questions, Rabbi Frand began by quoting the Tolner Rav who in turn cites to a Sfas Emes. The Sfas Emes on Vayeishev (in the name of his grandfather, the Chidushei HaRim) asked - what was the reason that Yosef and Yehuda were in conflict in Parshas Vayeishev? He explains that the debate centered around the proper path for the Jewish nation. Yosef believed that they should be separate and apart - divorced from the physical world, as such he is referred to in V'zos Habracha as "Nazir.". Yehuda was more involved with this world and he believed that holiness can be found in the physical world. As such, the bracha in V'zos Habracha refers to him as "V'el Amo Tive'enu."

The Sfas Emes then quoted his grandfather that the same debate existed in chassidus. The Kotsker Chassidim felt that it was better to be selective - fewer in number, but holier in stature. Meanwhile, the Gerrer Chassidim believed that the greater the number the better, even if some of the chassidim were not of the highest caliber.

When Yosef was in Egypt, it was his belief in being separate and apart from the physical world which allowed him to survive his time in Potiphar's house and subsequently in prison. However when Yehuda came down and told the story from his own perspective, Yosef realized that there was some validity to Yehuda's position and that the Jewish people would require both derachims in order to continue. Yosef understood that a nation cannot be wholly in one of these paths and that the way to build a nation is to have some diversity among its people.

Rabbi Frand quoted a famous ma'amar about how a shul should have 12 windows - one for each tribe to show the diversity of the Jewish people, but that all of the different derachim lead to Hashem.

Yosef's realization occured when Yehuda said - I will submit to you, Yosef. This was a showing of strength, as it states in Pirkei Avos who is strong - one who conquers his will. Additionally, it was a showing of modesty - which a King must occasionally show for the good of the people. When Yosef saw this, he realized that this was the way to build a nation - with elements of both traits.

Rabbi Frand also brought a proof from the Haftorah in which Yechezkel was instructed to take two pieces of wood and to write the name of Yehuda on one and Yosef on to bring them both together in his hand. In this way Yosef recognizes the truth of Yehuda and Yehuda that of Yosef - and in so doing can build a nation.

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