Thursday, December 25, 2014

Thursday's Parsha Tidbits - Parshas Vayigash

The following is a brief summary of some of the thoughts said over by R' Frand on the parsha this evening. I have attempted to reproduce these vorts 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.

In Bereishis 45:3 the Torah recounts how Yosef finally revealed his identity to his brothers and that they could not respond to him.

The Medrash Rabbah cites Abba Kohain Bardela who states that the brothers were unable to respond as Yosef's revelation was a rebuke to them. He further stated that how much more so, when a person dies he will come before the Kisaih HaKavod and he will be unable to respond after hearing the Heavenly rebuke.

Although it is understandable that once a person is rebuked by Hashem and sees all of his errors that he will be unable to respond, but the question is - how was Yosef's revelation of his identity a rebuke to the brothers?

R' Frand answered by quoting the Sefer Nachal Eliyahu who refers to a Ramban on Parshas Vayeshev. The Ramban observes that the entire story of Yosef is counter intuitive. How is it that Yaakov makes the mistake of overtly favoring Yosef over his brothers, without being concerned for their reaction? Why is is that Yosef mistakenly believes that his brothers are sinning and even eating from live animals? Why do the brothers believe that Yosef wants to kill them, when he is not planning to do so?

The Ramban answers that the key is that Hashem has made his decree and the efforts taken to combat it are false as Hashem's decision will prevail.

The Nachal Eliyahu explained that when Yosef revealed himself to the brothers he was in effect saying to them, you thought that you could get rid of me and sell me down to Egypt as a slave. However, all of your thoughts and plans are of little consequence, as I Yosef have succeeded and am the second in command in Egypt. This was the ultimate rebuke.

R' Frand then tied this into a parallel vort by the Nachal Eliyahu on a later incident in the parsha. When the brothers tell Yaakov that Yosef is still alive (Bereishis 45:26) he rejected them. But why should he do so? He had mourned Yosef for more than twenty years and was inconsolable. Did he think that his sons were pranking him? 

The Nachal Eliyahu quoted the Midrash Tanchuma which writes that a rasha while alive is called dead because he is incapable of recognizing Hashem's role in his every day life. The person may see a sunrise but will not acknowledge Hashem's role in creating the world that sustains him.

Yaakov's rejection of the brothers statement was not because he did not believe that Yosef was alive, it was based on a sense that Yosef was not Yosef anymore, due to his years of living in the den of sin known as Egypt. 

However, when Yaakov saw the wagons and was reminded that Yosef had learned the topic of Eglah Arufa with him before their separation, Yaakov able to believe that Yosef was in fact Yosef. At this point, Yaakov knew that this was all part of Hashem's plan and that Yosef could be reunited with him.

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