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Thursday, December 25

The Weekly Shtikle - Vayigash

A special Mazal Tov to noted Weekly Shtikle reader, critic and contributor David Farkas and his wife Sara on the birth of their son, Chanan Nachman. In honour of the bris today, I am quoting David below.

Another special Mazal Tov to my nephew, Yitzchak Levy, along with the extended Levy and Bulka mishpachos on his Bar Mitzvah this Shabbos. 

This Shabbos is the yahrtzeit of my wife's grandfather, Rabbi Dr Israel Frankel, a"h. This week's shtikle is dedicated le'iluy nishmaso, Yisroel Aryeh ben Asher Yeshayahu.
    As the showdown between Yoseif and Yehudah escalates at the beginning of the parsha, Yoseif finally realizes that he could no longer go on deceiving his brothers and hiding his identity. He reveals to them that he is in fact Yoseif. However, he is able to keep up this chicanery for quite some time despite numerous hints. Rashi (42:8) writes that it was Yoseif's newly grown beard that prevented his brothers from discerning that it was him.
    However, David Farkas, author of Ha-Doresh Vi-Hamivakesh, suggests another approach. Indeed, one looks different with a beard than without. But after all of the dealings the brothers had with him, could not one of them figure out that this Egyptian viceroy looks an awful lot like their brother? Rather, the Egyptian Pharaohs were known to have worn masks. While Yoseif was only the Prime Minister to the monarch, it is possible that he wore a mask as well. In such a case only his voice would serve as any hint to his identity. It is thus much easier to understand that the brothers were unable identify him. [Note that the pasuk recounts Yoseif's recognition of his brothers immediately upon their arrival. However, we are not told that they didn't recognize him until after he speaks. This seems to suggest that until Yoseif spoke, the brothers had nothing with which they could possibly have identified him.]
    While this suggestion might seem slightly outlandish at first, it seems Ramban in this week's parsha concurs. He writes (46:29) that Yaakov did not recognize Yoseif right away because his face was covered with some sort of head covering as per the custom of Egyptian royalty. And so too, Ramban adds, his brothers did not recognize him. Ramban clearly asserts that it was more than just a beard that concealed Yoseif's identity.
    As mentioned above, Yoseif did drop numerous hints to his brothers and while they were baffled on occasion, they failed to come to the realization that it was Yoseif. R' Nosson Meir Wachtfogel, zt"l, mashgiach of Lakewood Yeshivah, asks if Yoseif was trying to conceal his identity, why did he in fact drop all those hints? And why did the brothers not pick up on them?
    He explains that when the brothers first encountered Yoseif in Egypt, the pasuk recounts (42:9) that Yoseif remembered his dreams and proceeded to charge his brothers with espionage. It's not that Yoseif necessarily used his dreams as a rationale for badgering his brothers. Rather, Yoseif developed a scheme by which he would allow his brothers to come to their own realization that he was the viceroy of Egypt. If they could discover this by themselves, it would be an acceptance of the integrity of Yoseif's dreams. An outsider might have easily identified Yoseif. The brothers, however, had an inner struggle to contend with. Yoseif kept on hinting to them. The facts were there in front of them. But inside, they could not bring themselves to accept it. Finally, it reached a point where Yoseif could no longer play his game. He tried to no avail. He had to spell it out for his brothers on his own.
Have a good Shabbos.

Eliezer Bulka

Shtikle Blog Weekly Roundup:
Al Pi Cheshbon / Dikdukian: Can you count to 70?
Dikdukian: Pain in the Neck
Dikdukian: Just Do It!
Dikdukian: Ram'seis
Dikdukian: Dikdukei Vayigash by R' Eliyahu Levin

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