Friday, November 29, 2013

rotzeh Hashem es yerei'av -- Hashem does ritzuy and reaches out to us

It’s easy to get all caught up in Chanukah and forget there is parshas ha’shavua too.  I want to share a beautiful Zohar and a question. 

The Zohar (link) asks why the pasuk says “Rotzeh Hashem es yerei’av” instead of saying “Rotzeh Hashem b’yerieav.”  The word “es” usually means we are dealing with a transitive verb, yet here b’pashtus the pasuk means Hashem is filled with love for those who fear him – it’s an intransitive verb. 

The Zohar puts a new twist on the pasuk.  The word “rotzeh” here is like the word “ritzuy.”  If you have a breakdown in a relationship with a friend, you have to go out and do ritzuy, piyus, to restore the friendship.  A person can have a breakdown in their relationship with G-d as well.  Rotzeh Hashem es yerei’av” means that Hashem doesn’t wait for the person to come back; he goes out and does “ritzuy” and re-ignites and rebuilds the ratzon within the person. 

The Zohar continues that “Vayiritzuhu min ha’bor” means that in addition to Yosef being physically taken from the prison pit, there was ritzuy and piyus involved.  Yosef had to make peace with what had transpired, he had to overcome the anger and depression at being thrown into that pit and accept it as just another hurdle on his path to greater things. 

I have nothing to add; I just wanted to pass it along because it is a nice thought. 

Now for the question:

 וישלח ויקרא וגו' ר' יהושע דסכנין בשם רבי לוי פתרין היו אותו אלא שלא היה קולן נכנס באזניו שבע פרות הטובות שבע בנות אתה מוליד שבע פרות הרעות שבע בנות אתה קובר וכן אמרו שבע שבלים הטובות שבע מלכיות אתה מכבש שבע שבלים הרעות שבע אפרכיות מורדות בך הה"ד (משלי יד) בקש לץ חכמה ואין אלו חכמי פרעה וחרטומי מצרים ודעת לנבון נקל זה יוסף

The Midrash gives some examples of interpretations of Pharoah’s dreams suggested by his advisors, and applies the pasuk of “bakeish leitz chochma v’ayin” (Mishlei 14:6) to their unsuccessful efforts.  Yosef, however, is “da’as l’navon nakeil,” as his interpretation was correct.

What does this Midrash tell us that we don’t already know from the pesukim?  Surely the details of Pharoah’s advisors misinterpretations are not important, and we also know already that Yosef’s interpretation was right.  What are Chazal adding to our understanding of the parsha and what are they trying to teach us?


  1. I always understood Rashi (and the Medrash) to mean that it says ואין פותר אותם לפרעה, and the question is what does that mean, because it sounds like they didn't know an interpretation, so Rashi says they did offer an interpretation, but they were not to Pharaoh's liking. Now, what is it about my interpretation that you don't like? :)

  2. So why are the examples (Rashi doesn't give examples because his focus is on the diyuk of l'Pharoah; the Midrash highlights the examples) of the advisors interpretations important? And what's the chiddush in applying the pasuk in Mishlei to this context?

  3. The Targum Yonson says that it was מן השמים that Paroh didn't accept those interpretations, in order that Yosef be released from prison.
    וְלָא הֲוָה אֶפְשַׁר לִגְבַר דִי יִפְשַׁר יָתֵיהּ אֲרוּם מִן קֳדָם יְיָ אִסְתַּקֵף מִן בִּגְלַל דִי מָטָא זִמְנֵיהּ דְיוֹסֵף לְמִיפַּק מִן בֵּית אֲסִירֵי
    So maybe we can say that really the interpretations were worthy, but Hashem who rules the world made it that in this particular case they wouldn't be accepted. And the Medrash is trying to show this to us by bringing examples of acceptable interpretations.

    1. I like it.
      The Midrash also seems to suggest that Hashem caused the dreams in order to bring about Yosef's release (which is the reverse of what you would think, i.e. that Yosef got released because he managed to interpret the dreams.) That fits with the T.Y. you quote.
      The Shem m'Shmuel also writes along the same lines you are suggesting that we see from the makos that when the chartumim can't do something, they admit that "etzba Elokim." From the fact that they offered interpretations it means that m'tzad human chochma, these were very plausible interpretations.
      He then goes on to say that Yosef's interpretation is rooted in "da'as," which transcends the chochma of the chatumim. This fits the pasuk in Mishlei, but I don't know what it means.