Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Vayigash: Parsha and Commentary

"And Judah approached him..." (44.18)

Midrash Rabbah: Said Rabbi Judah: The verb “he approached” (vayigash) implies an approach to battle, as in the verse (II Samuel 10:13), “So Joab and the people that were with him approached unto battle.” Rabbi Nechemiah said: The verb “he approached” implies a coming near for conciliation, as in the verse (Joshua 14:6), “Then the children of Judah
approached Joshua.” The Sages said: It implies coming near for prayer, as in the verse (I Kings,
18:36), “And it came to pass at the time of the evening offering, that Elijah the prophet approached...” Rabbi Eleazar combined all these views: Judah approached Joseph for all
three, saying: If it be war, I approach for war; if it be conciliation, I approach for conciliation; if it be for entreaty, I approach to entreat.


Midrash Rabbah: Regarding the encounter between Judah and Joseph it is said: “Counsel in the heart of man is like deep water; but a man of understanding will draw it out” (Proverbs 20:5). This may be compared to a deep well full of cold and excellent water, yet none could drink of it. Then came one who tied cord to cord and thread to thread, drew up its water and drank, whereupon all drew water thus and drank thereof. In the same way Judah did not cease from answering Joseph word for word until he penetrated to his very heart.

וְהַקֹּל נִשְׁמַע בֵּית פַּרְעֹה לֵאמֹר בָּאוּ אֲחֵי יוֹסֵף וַיִּיטַב בְּעֵינֵי פַרְעֹה וּבְעֵינֵי עֲבָדָיו:

וּלְאָבִיו שָׁלַח כְּזֹאת עֲשָׂרָה חֲמֹרִים נֹשְׂאִים מִטּוּב מִצְרָיִם וְעֶשֶׂר אֲתֹנֹת נֹשְׂאֹת בָּר וָלֶחֶם וּמָזוֹן לְאָבִיו לַדָּרֶךְ:
רש"י: מטוב מצרים:
מצינו בתלמוד ששלח לו יין (ישן) שדעת זקנים נוחה הימנו. ומדרש אגדה גריסין של פול:

45.23 And to his father he sent the following: ten he donkeys carrying of the best of Egypt, and ten she donkeys carrying grain, bread, and [other] food, for his father for the way.

Rashi: of the best of Egypt:
We find in the Talmud (Meg. 16b) that he sent him aged wine because elderly people find contentment with it. [I.e., the fact that wine improves with age often affords contentment to the elderly.] According to the Midrash Aggadah (Gen. Rabbah 94:2 on verse 18), however, this refers to pounded beans [which have a soothing effect on a troubled spirit].

45.24 And he sent off his brothers, and they went, and he said to them, "Do not quarrel on the way."

Rashi: Do not engage in a halachic discussion lest the way cause you to stray. Another explanation: Do not walk with large steps, and enter the city while the sun is shining (Ta’anith 10b). According to the simple meaning of the verse, we can say that since they were ashamed, he (Joseph) was concerned that they would perhaps quarrel on the way about his being sold, debating with one another, and saying,“Because of you he was sold. You slandered him and caused us to hate him.”

וַיֹּאמֶר יִשְׂרָאֵל רַב עוֹד יוֹסֵף בְּנִי חָי אֵלְכָה וְאֶרְאֶנּוּ בְּטֶרֶם אָמוּת

And Israel said, "Enough! My son Joseph is still alive. I will go and see him before I die."

וַיֹּאמֶר אֱ־לֹהִים לְיִשְׂרָאֵל בְּמַרְאֹת הַלַּיְלָה וַיֹּאמֶר יַעֲקֹב יַעֲקֹב וַיֹּאמֶר הִנֵּנִי

And God said to Israel in visions of the night, and He said, "Jacob, Jacob!" And he said, "Here I am."

אָנֹכִי אֵרֵד עִמְּךָ מִצְרַיְמָה וְאָנֹכִי אַעַלְךָ גַם עָלֹה וְיוֹסֵף יָשִׁית יָדוֹ עַל עֵינֶיךָ

I will go down with you to Egypt, and I will also bring you up, and Joseph will place his hand on your eyes.

Talmud Megillah 29a: Come and see how beloved are Israel in the sight of G-d! To every place to which they were exiled, the Divine Presence went with them. They were exiled to Egypt and the Divine Presence was with them; they were exiled to Babylon, and the Divine Presence was with them; and when they will be redeemed in the future, the Divine Presence will be with them.

בָּנָיו וּבְנֵי בָנָיו אִתּוֹ בְּנֹתָיו וּבְנוֹת בָּנָיו וְכָל זַרְעוֹ הֵבִיא אִתּוֹ מִצְרָיְמָה
רש"י: ובנות בניו : סרח בת אשר, ויוכבד בת לוי

His sons and his sons' sons with him, his daughters and his sons' daughters and all his descendants he brought with him to Egypt.
Rashi: his sons’ daughters: Serah the daughter of Asher and Jochebed the daughter of Levi.

Sefer HaYashar, Tzror HaMor: When Jacob’s sons returned from Egypt with the news that Joseph is alive, they said: If we tell him straightaway, his soul will fly from his body. So they told Serach to play on her harp and sing, “Joseph lives, Joseph lives, and he is the ruler of Egypt,” so that he should absorb the message slowly. Said Jacob to her: “The mouth that informed me that Joseph lives shall not taste death.” Serach was among those who came out of Egypt and among those who entered the Land; She was the “wise woman” who handed over Sheva ben Bichri to Joab (II Samuel 20); in the end, she entered paradise alive.

Bava Batra 123a: "ALL THE SOULS OF THE HOUSE OF JACOB WHO CAME INTO EGYPT WERE SEVENTY (46:27)" But if you count them, you find only sixty-nine; the seventieth is Jocheved the daughter of Levi, who was born between the boundary walls as they
entered Egypt.

The Lubavitcher Rebbe (phrased by Yanki Tauber): In Egypt, there was one Jew who was born "between the boundary walls" as Jacob's household entered the country. A Jew who straddled the pre- and post-galut states of mind; who was neither of Egypt nor aloof from it. A Jew rooted in the past but an integral part of the present; a Jew with the power to transform Egypt without being transformed by it. This Jew was one of the two Jewish midwives (the second was her daughter, Miriam) who delivered, sheltered and raised a generation of faithful Jews under the terrible reign of Pharaoh. This Jew was Yocheved, mother of Moses.

(collected from Parsha In-Depth)

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