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Friday, December 8

The Weekly Shtikle - Vayeishev

Earlier this month, in my haste, I skipped my usual dedication for the yahrtzeit of my rebbe, HaRav Yaakov Moshe Kulefsky, zt"l, 3 Kisleiv. I will try to compensate with a shtikle on this week's parsha he would often say over.

 

In this week's parsha we have the infamous episode, amongst others, of Yoseif and the wife of Potifar. The gemara (Sotah 36b) explains that Yoseif in fact had a desire to give in to her initially, but in the end he was able to overcome and suppress. This assertion seems difficult at first glance. The pesukim make no reference of such a desire and clearly says (39:8) "Vayemaein Yoseif", and Yoseif refused. What then did Chazal see to suggest that Yoseif in fact had an urge? My Rebbe, R' Yaakov Moshe Kulefsky, zt"l, explains in the name of the Afikei Yehudah that the explanation lies in the meaning of the word vayemaein. It does not connote an absence of desire but rather a refusal of an apparent desire. The contrast between meiun, refusal, and total lack of desire is illustrated in a number of places in the Torah.

 

When B'nei Yisrael requested permission from Edom to pass through their land, the language of Edom's refusal is "vayemaein Edom," (Bemidbar 20:21). When they requested of Sichon permission to pass through his land the reply is described as "v'lo avah Sichon," (Devarim 2:30) and Sichon did not want. Sichon was completely willing to do this favour for B'nei Yisrael. Edom would not have inherently opposed their passage if not for the fact that they were afraid that they would wage war against them. But it seems that the favour itself Edom had no opposition to. (Perhaps this contrast is also seen in the fact that Sichon waged war immediately and Edom did not.) That's why their answer is called a refusal whereas Sichon didn't want.

 

When Bil'am is convinced by HaShem not to curse B'nei Yisrael, the messengers of Balak report, "mei'ein Bil'am" (Bemidbar 22:14). Surely Bil'am at this point still wanted to curse B'nei Yisrael but because of HaShem's command he could not. That is why the language of refusal is used.

 

The final example is the most revealing as it uses both terminologies in the same pasuk. In the parsha of yivum, the woman is required to come before beis din and recite a specific passage: (Devarim 25:7) "Mei'ein yevami l'hakim l'achiv shem b'Yisrael, lo avah yabemi." As far as the component dealing with being meikim shem, to allow the name of the deceased to endure, which is the essence of the mitzvah, the verb of refusal is used because deep down every one really wants to do a mitzvah. Nevertheless, for a certain reason he has refused (as explained in the famous passage of Rambam in Hilchos Gittin 2:20). The end of the pasuk reads "lo avah yabemi," he doesn't want to do yivum to me. This is to say, "It is me he doesn't want at all."

 

This, suggests the Afikei Yehuda, is what Chazal observed to understand the episode of Yoseif as they did. Vayemaein Yoseif implies not that Yoseif had no desire whatsoever, but that he had a desire and refused it.


Have a good Shabbos.

Eliezer Bulka
WeeklyShtikle@weeklyshtikle.com

Shtikle Blog Weekly Roundup:
Dikdukian: Clear the Halls (Chanukah)
Dikdukian: Naaseh Neis (Chanukah)

Please visit the new portal for all Shtikle-related sites, www.weeklyshtikle.com
The Weekly Shtikle and related content are now featured on BaltimoreJewishLife.com

Friday, December 1

The Weekly Shtikle - Vayishlach

A special Weekly Shtikle mazal tov to my nephew, Shlomo Yitzchok Shonek of Far Rockaway, who is celebrating his Bar Mitzvah this Shabbos.

 

When Yaakov learns that Eisav is coming to meet him with 400 men, he expresses great fear as stated (32:8) "vayira Yaakov me'od vayeitzer lo." There are various suggestions given as to the exact definition of the word vayeitzer. The predominant interpretation seems to be that it is from the same root as tzar, implying that Yaakov was stressed.

 

I suggest that perhaps this word is from the root of the word yeitzer which comes from the same root as tzurah, a form. While the body is the physical form of the human being, the yeitzer - both the yeitzer tov and the yeitzer hara - comprises spiritual form of the human being. Yaakov's yeitzer, his spiritual form, was one that directly opposed murder and violence, unlike his brother Eisav. Rashi writes that while vayira was indicative a fear that he himself may be killed, the connotation of vayeizter is that Yaakov was worried that he might be put in a position where he would have to kill others. In other words, Yaakov was troubled that he would be forced to act in a way that is antithetical to his yeitzer. Thus, vayeitzer can be interpreted to mean that his yeitzer was being bothered.



Have a good Shabbos.

Eliezer Bulka
WeeklyShtikle@weeklyshtikle.com

Shtikle Blog Weekly Roundup:
Dikdukian: Appearances
Al Pi Cheshbon: Goats and Amicable Numbers by Ari Brodsky


Please visit the new portal for all Shtikle-related sites, www.weeklyshtikle.com
The Weekly Shtikle and related content are now featured on BaltimoreJewishLife.com