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Friday, December 12

The Weekly Shtikle - Vayeishev

 

After throwing Yoseif into the pit, the brothers had clearly paid no attention to Reuvein's previous demand and were still contemplating killing Yoseif. Finally, they are convinced by Yehudah, who had taken on a role of leadership amongst the brothers. He reasons, (37:26) "Of what gain would it be for us to kill our brother, thereby requiring us to cover his blood?" Sensing that the covering of blood was meant metaphorically, Rashi renders "we will hide his death." This seemingly innocuous comment is actually slightly problematic. According to Rashi's interpretation, had the brothers actually gone through with killing Yoseif, they would have had to cover up his death altogether. However, in the end, when they did not kill him, they still told him that he had died. Therefore, it seems that covering up Yoseif's "death" would not have been the issue but rather, covering up his "murder."

 

Behind Rashi's comment may, in fact, be an intriguing psychological insight. Had the brothers actually killed Yoseif, it would have been too difficult for them to report his death to their father and, at the same time, deny any involvement. They would have been forced to make up some other story, much further from the truth. Since they sold him and knew that he was indeed alive and well, they were more comfortable making up a story of his tragic death. If this is the way Rashi is to be understood, it gives deep insight into the human mind. It is more difficult to tell a lie which is very close to the truth, a half-truth perhaps, than to tell a lie which is far from the truth.

Have a good Shabbos and a Chanukah Samei'ach!

Eliezer Bulka
WeeklyShtikle@weeklyshtikle.com

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