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Friday, December 30

The Weekly Shtikle - Vayigash

Yesterday, 5 Teves, was the 45th 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.

After Yoseif finally reveals his identity to his brothers the atmosphere appears to be rather tense. The tension is apparently broken when Yoseif engages in a tearful embrace with Binyamin, followed by a similar gesture with each of the other brothers (45:14-15). As the pasuk clearly states, only then did the brothers begin to talk with Yoseif. Rashi explains that they were so ashamed that they were left literally speechless. It was only after they saw Yoseif crying and they knew his intentions were peaceful that they were able to speak with him.


What is puzzling about this comment of Rashi was that Yoseif's revelation was clearly preceded by a very genuine, whole-hearted cry which was heard throughout the land of Egypt. Yoseif was not one to hide his emotions and there did not seem to be a hint of anger in the dialog that followed. Nevertheless, the brothers were still nervous. What seems to have put the brothers at ease was not necessarily Yoseif's crying alone. It was the equal treatment of all his brothers. Surely, they expected Yoseif to deal kindly with Reuvein, who sincerely attempted to save him, or the other brothers who were less involved. But what about Yehudah, the mastermind behind the sale of Yoseif, or Shimon, who is "credited" with throwing him into the pit? However, the pasuk clearly equates all brothers when recounting Yoseif's tearful embraces. Not only was he crying and full of loving, brotherly emotion, it was clear to the brothers that his feelings were equal for all the brothers, regardless of their involvement in his sale. Only then did they feel comfortable conversing with Yoseif. (Perhaps this interpretation can be read into Rashi's comment as well.)


Another approach is offered by David Farkas in HaDoresh ViHamivakesh (new edition forthcoming):

The words "after this" seem extra. To me this seems to be the precise culmination of the events that occurred so long ago. Before, in 35:5, the brothers were described as "not being able to speak with [Joseph] in peace". Now, after they had seen the Hand of God in all its awesome clarity, only "after this" were they finally able to speak with their brother! 

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: Shepherd(s)

Dikdukian: Ram'seis

Dikdukian: Dikdukei Vayigash by R' Eliyahu Levin


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