Parshat Vayeishev 5776: Yosef’s Journey to Shechem — Beginning of Fulfillment of the Divine Promise of Exile

Shalom Friends;

This week, our Parshat HaShevua Vayeishev is being sponsored by Dr.Edo and Atara Lavi of Ramat Beit Shemesh who pray for good health for Jonathan Pollard and for his return to Eretz Yisrael. To the Lavi family, many thanks for your sponsorhip and continued kindnesses.

You can celebrate a Simcha — a birth, a Bar/Bat Mitzvah, a Chassuna or other Simcha event in your life, or commemorate a Yahrtzeit of a loved one, or for whatever other reason by sponsoring a Parshat HaShevua.

Please forward to your relatives and friends and encourage them to sponsor a Parshat HaShevua. And please be in contact with me with any questions, or for further details.

Best Regards,

Moshe Burt
skype: mark.burt3

Parshat Vayeishev 5776: Yosef’s Journey to Shechem — Beginning of Fulfillment of the Divine Promise of Exile

by Moshe Burt

Our parsha relates how Yosef, born to Rachel, was Yaakov’s favored son — his “Ben Z’kunim” (son of old age) to whom he bestowed a multi-colored coat which sources indicate could have been the coat of Eisev which was worn by Yaakov in receiving the B’rachot from Yitzchak. Yosef’s favored son status aroused jealousy amongst his brothers. Yosef’s tale-bearing about his brothers, as well as his dream-telling aroused anger and hatred of him in the brothers.

They saw Yosef’s tale-telling — often without knowing all of the facts and his pronouncement of his dreams, as fostering their perception that he sought to rule over them, that he sought their subservience to him. His brothers also envied their Father’s preference for him. They viewed Yosef in the light of the family history — their great grandfather’s Avraham’s reluctance to separate from his other son Yishmael and their grandfather Yitzchak’s apparent favoritism for his son Eisev, that “master of kibud Av,” who nonetheless was wicked and not connected with Shemayim.

Yosef’s brothers, while acting inappropriately out of jealousy, perceived Yosef as a threat to the future nation that was to grow from them as the offspring of Yaakov.

When Yosef came searching out his brothers in the fields, the brothers saw him “from afar… and they conspired toward him to kill him.” (Sefer Breish’t, Perek 37, posuk 18)

With this background in place, Sefer Shem Mishmuel (Shem Mishmuel, by Rabbi Shmuel Bornstein, the Sochaczever Rebbe, as rendered to English by Rabbi Zvi Belovski, Parsha Vayeishev, pages 68-71) explains:

After we hear about Yosef’s dream and his brothers’ reactions to them, the brothers go to Shechem to find Ya’akov’s sheep. Ya’akov wanted Yosef to join them.

Shem Mishmuel then renders Sefer Breish’t, Perek 37, posukim 13-14:

“Yisrael said to Yosef, ‘Are your brothers not shepherding in Shechem? Go and I will send you to them.’ He answered, ‘Here I am!’ [Yisrael] said to him, ‘Go now, please and investigate the welfare of your brothers and of the sheep and bring back a report.’ And he sent him from the valley of Hevron, and he came to Shechem.”

Rabbi Shimshon Raphael Hirsch, z”l, in the “New Hirsch Chumash” (page713) comments on Sefer Breish’t, Perek 37, posuk 13:

Ya’akov senses that there is a rift between Yosef and his brothers and he does not want it to deepen. At the same time he wants to test Yosef’s feelings toward his brothers. He therefore, initially gives Yosef no special assignment, but merely says to him, ” It is better that I should send you to their flocks, so that you may be with your brothers.” Yosef is ready to go at once. After all, his conscience is clear. He has no ambitions to become a prince or ruler.

Shem Mishmuel (page 68) cites Rashi on Sefer Breish’t, Perek 37, posuk14, “from the valley of Hevron”:

But Hevron is a mountain, as it says, “And they ascended in the south as far as Hevron” (Sefer Bamidbar, Perek 13, posuk 22). Rather from the deep advice offered by the tzaddik [Avraham] buried in Hevron. This fulfilled the promise made to Avraham at the Bris bein HaBesarim [Bris of the Parts]: “For your descendants will be strangers in a land which is not their own. (Sefer Breish’t, Perek 15, posuk 13)

This “deep advice” is rendered in “The Sapirstein Edition Chumash with Rashi Commentary” as “deep counsel” with a footnote on “counsel”:

“Counsel” is used by Rashi for the “Word of G’d”, as in Isaiah [Yishai] 14:27 (Divrei David).

Shem Mishmuel (page 68) provides explanation of “deep advice” or “deep counsel”:

Rashi refers to the fact that in some sense the exile promised to Avraham’s descendants was beginning now [presumably with Yosef’s traveling to Shechem to his brothers]; Yosef would go to Egypt and remain there, and eventually all of his family would follow him…. The phrase “deep advice” used here should really refer to something positive, to a means of achieving some desired aim. But here, … the coming exile was, ostensibly, a punishment for Avraham’s lack of trust in Hashem. Avraham asked Hashem, “How will I know that I will inherit the land?” (Sefer Breish’t, Perek 15, posuk 8) In response, his descendants were punished with exile.

Shem Mishmuel (pages 69-71) then cites a vort said by Shimon bar Abba in the name of Rabbi Yochanon regarding four things shown to Avraham at the Bris bein HaBesarim: Gehinnom, the Wicked Kingdoms [which would oppress Israel], Matan Torah and the Beit Hamikdash:

Hashem said to Avraham, “Whenever your descendants are occupied with these two, they will be saved from two. If they abandon two, they will be punished with two. What do you want — that your children will go down to Gehinnom, or that they will be subjugated by the wicked kingdoms?” Chanina bar Pappa said, “Avraham chose subjugation… ” (Breish’t Rabbah 44:21)

We can now understand why Avraham chose subjugation for his descendants, rather than Gehinnom…. Avraham Avinu knew that once subjugation took effect, and “boiled” away at least some of the sins of Klal Yisrael, a desire for clean Torah-oriented living would emerge of its own accord, for their souls are at root holy and pure.

This… happened at Matan Torah at Har Sinai [Mt. Sinai]: after escaping the oppression of Egypt, Klal Yisrael went right to Matan Torah, when all of their remaining faults were rectified. This choice… by Avraham demanded great consideration; …a demonstration of tremendous mental skill to select subjugation, rather than Gehinnom, for his descendants.

At the moment when Yosef went to meet his brothers, which began the chain of events leading to the slavery in Egypt, Ya’akov indeed sent him in accordance with the “‘deep advice’ offered by the tzaddik buried in Hevron.”

In our contemporary times when we view the rising trends of transgenderism. cross-dressing, same gender unions, misplacement of gender roles, promiscuity, as well as illicit, shady business practices, bribery and corruption, dishonesty towards one’s fellows and more, even amongst some in Klal Yisrael, including gouging of one’s fellow Jew via exclusive employment of Arabs, even at the cost of the life and/or limb of one’s fellow Jew, for excess profits in the building trades — we long for the pintele yid, souls who, as Shem Mishmuel put it, “are at root holy and pure.”

May we, the B’nai Yisrael be zocha that our brethren — the refugee families from Gush Katif be permanently settled and be made totally whole — be totally restituted for all that was stolen from them at leftist-agendized, supreme court legalized gunpoint, that our dear brother Jonathan Pollard’s true freedom — his return home to Israel, and that Sholom Rubashkin, as well as the other MIAs be liberated alive and returned to us in ways befitting Al Kiddush Hashem, as should the remains of the two chayalim from the Gaza War of 1 1/2 years ago. May we have the courage and strength to stand up and physically prevent the possibility of Chas V’Challila any future eviction of Jews from their homes and the handing of Jewish land over to anyone, let alone to enemies sworn to Israel’s and Judaism’s destruction and eradication. May we fulfill Hashem’s blueprint of B’nai Yisrael as a Unique people — an Am Segula, not to be reckoned with as with “the nations” and may we be zocha to see the Moshiach, the Ge’ula Shlaima, as Dov Shurin sings; “Ki Karov Yom Hashem Al’Kol HaGoyim”, the Ultimate Redemption, bimhayrah b’yamainu — speedily, in our time”, — Achshav, Chik Chuk, Miyad, Etmol!!!

Good Shabbos!
Moshe Burt, an Oleh, is a commentator on news and events in Israel and Founder and Director of the Sefer Torah Recycling Network. He lives in Ramat Beit Shemesh.

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