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Parshas VaYigash

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Parshas VaYigash
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Bais HaLevi - Yosef to The Shevatim, "Check Mate"

A number of times before he revealed himself to his brothers, Yosef asked them if their father was alive and they answered in the affirmative. Now when Yosef says "Ani Yosef" he immediately again asks "Ha'Od Avi Chai", is my father still alive. Why does he ask it again and why in the same breath as his great revelation? Furthermore we don't see that the Shevatim answered this question at all. The Bais HaLevi answers that the medrash says that great embarrassment the Shevatim had when Yosef revealed himself will be nothing compared to our embarrassment when we come to Shamayim to our own judgment day. What is the connection?

He explains that Yosef was questioning the consistency of his brothers in their protection of Binyomin. They claimed that they would fight to their death over him because it would kill their father if he were not brought back alive. To this Yosef retorts "I am Yosef", you told my father I am dead and he is still alive so why are you so concerned now?

When we come to Shamayim we will have many excuses to justify our behavior, says the Bais Halevi. However many of the charges we will face will deal with our own internal inconsistencies. You were too tired to help someone who needed a favor? Okay that sounds like a good excuse. But wait! Look here when you were doing something for yourself. Then you had plenty of energy! These are the most embarrassing questions of them all and this is the question that Yosef asked his brothers. For questions like this the Shevatim didn't have an answer and neither will we.

Yehuda Sings A Tune Of Sacrifice

Our Parsha begins with Yehuda drawing close to argue with Yosef on Binyamin's behalf. He tells Yosef that he is more involved than the rest of his brothers because he took responsiblilty for Binyamin by telling his father, if he doesn't return him alive he will lose his Olam HaBa.

The Vilna Gaon says that this is hinted in the Truppe (notes) of the first words of the Parsha. KADMA V'AZLA R'VI'I, ZARKA MUNACH SEGOL. KADMA V'AZLA - The 4th (son) went forward (in confrontation with Yosef), because he had thrown away(Zarka) his place among the Chosen (Nation)- "Munach Segol" -(when he promised Binyamin's safe return). It was therefore Yehudah who entered in to the controversy more than his brothers.

Did Yosef Want To Get Binyamin In Trouble Just Like Himself?

Yosef gave them wagons according to Paroh's instruction, and provisions for the way. To each man he gave a change of clothes, [but] to Binyomin he gave 300 pieces of silver and five changes of clothes. (Bereishis 45:21-22). It is remarkable that Yosef should go ahead and do the very thing that created trouble for him in the first place. So much of the jealousy that the brothers had felt for Yosef stemmed from his father's special treatment of him. A man should never treat one son better than his other children, for, because of the two selayim of material Yaakov gave to Yosef more than the rest of his brothers, they became jealous of him and caused our fathers to go down to Egypt. (Shabbos 10b)

The Gemara in Megilah answers that Yosef was hinting that in the future Binyomin's descendant would wear the five pieces of clothing of kingship, as it says, "Mordechai went out with blue clothing of the kingdom ..." (Esther 8:15). (Megilah 16b).

The Vilna Gaon asks, even if Yosef had a reason for giving Binyamin more than his brothers, it would still cause jealousy? Secondly, the brothers probably did not even know that Yosef gave the five changes of clothes in order to allude to Mordechai? He answers that the clothing which he gave to the brothers were of higher quality than Binyamin's. Their clothing was equal in value to all 5 which Binyamin got. Therefore there was not any jealousy involved. The question was only why he divided Binyamin's amount in to 5? The Gemara answers to that, in order to allude to Mordechai.

A hint to this pshat can be found in the word "Chalifos". By the brothers it is written with a VAV - showing that they were expensive; as opposed to the word "Chalifos" by Binyamin which is spelled without a VAV - indicating that it was of lesser value.

Yosef Cries Over the Asara Harugei Malchus

And Yosef fell on the neck of Binyamin and wept, and Binyamin wept on his neck. Yosef then kissed all his brothers and wept on them. Rashi says, Yosef cried over both Batai Mikdash that will be destroyed in the portion of Binyamin in the future. Binyamin then cried over Mishkan Shilo which will be destroyed in the portion of Yosef. What historical episode did Yosef cry about when he wept over his brothers?

The Meforshim explain, he wept concerning the Asarah Harugay Malchus. The 10 Martyrs that would be killed in the time of the Romans as a punishment for the sale of Yosef. The pasuk alludes to this when it says, "VaYaivch Alayhem" - he cried over them. The word "Alayhem" means - "Al" (Ayin Lamed) - on, "Yud" - the 10 , "Hay Mem" - is an acronym for Harugay Malchus. The pasuk is saying, "VaYaivk - and Yosef cried "Alayhem" Al Yud Harugay Malchus.

Daas Zikaynim - No Wagon For Yaakov

And Pharaoh said to Yosef, "Tell your brothers, this is what they should do. Take wagons from the Land of Mitzrayim for your small children and wives and carry your father and come here." Daas Zikaynim MiBaalai HaTosfos learn, the wagons were for the Shvatim's small children and wives. "Carry your father" - means carry him on your shoulders and bring him here!

Maharsha - Why Can't Yosef Favor His Brother Binyomin?

Yosef gave each brother a gift of clothing and to Binyomin he gave 5 times as much and money on top of that. The Gemara asks in Megila 16a, why would Yosef give Binyomin more gifts of clothing than he gave the other brothers? Didn't Yosef himself suffer enough from the jealousy of the brothers when Yaakov gave him the Kesones Pasim? The Maharsha asks isn't there is a big difference between Yaakov singling out Yosef from all his other children and Yosef giving extra gifts to his only brother from his mother.

He answers that since Yosef was trying to convince the brothers that he was not angry at them for selling him, by giving Binyomin extra gifts they might think that the special treatment was not because Binyomin was a full brother but because he wasn't there when Yosef was sold. Therefore he should not have favored Binyomin at this sensitive point in time if he really wanted to make peace with his brothers.

Rav Yehonoson Eibushitz - Yosef To The Shevatim "Don't Be Afraid, I Am No Worse Than Eisav"

When Yosef revealed himself to his brothers he said "Ani Yosef, Ha'Od Avi Chai". Why did Yosef ask if Yaakov was alive? Yehuda just finished giving a speech about Yaakov's frail health and how he may die if Binyomin doesn't come back.

Rav Yehonoson Eibushitz answers that the Shevatim were scared that Yosef who was now in a position of great power would have them executed as revenge for selling him. Yosef wanted to allay their fears. He reminded them that although Eisav wanted to kill Yaakov immediately after he got the Brachos nevertheless the Torah says that Eisav didn't plan to carry out murder Yaakov until Yitzchok died in order not to cause Yitzchok pain and grief.

Yosef rhetorically asked his brothers, "Is Yaakov still alive?" If so they had nothing to fear because Yosef is no worse than Eisav and would not kill them in Yaakov's lifetime.

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