Monday, December 24, 2012

what finally forced Yosef's hand

Two other little insights into the parsha of Yosef and his brothers that caught my attention: 

1) What was it that finally caused Yosef to break down and reveal himself to his brothers?  Was it the pleading of Yehudah?  Was it the sight of his brother Binyamin?  The Sefas Emes reminds us of what Ya'akov had told his sons before sending them down to Mitzrayim again -- "V'K-l Sha'kai yiten lachem rachamim lifnei ha'ish..."  (43:14)   Ya'akov davened that the "ish" that his sons would be returning to should have mercy on them.  It was not Yehudah, it was not Binyamin, it was not the sight of his other brothers, but it was this tefilah of Ya'akov which melted the heart of the "ish," of Yosef.   

2) When the brothers left Yosef the first time, why did Yosef hold Shimon behind?  Surely the brothers would have been forced to return whether Shimon was held or not -- there was no other source of food other than from Mitzrayim!  And remember that Shimon, as Rashi says, was not actually held in prison.  Once the brothers were gone Yosef released him and fed him and treated him b'kavod,   So why hold him hostage?   The Radmosker answers that once Yosef was reunited with his brothers, he could not bear to see them go.  He wanted so much to give of himself to his brothers, to show them chessed, to act as Yosef the "mashbir," that he could not help himself from holding someone back just to be able to share with.

Not pshat, but insightful and creative.  


  1. > it was this tefilah of Ya'akov which melted the heart of the "ish," of Yosef

    This would fit with another consideration: we are told one reason Yosef didn't contact his father and subjected his brothers the way he did was to bring about his dreams. The brothers all had to bow down to him. But Yosef had two dreams and in the second his father also had to bow down to him along with all the brothers. However, in he text of the Torah we never see this happening.
    But perhaps this is why Yosef broke when he did. When Yaakov Avinu had to face Eisav he prepared with prayer, weapons and gifts but he never asked for rachamim because he either didn't expect any or because he wasn't a broken man who had no way of protecting his interests. By sending Binyamin along with a plea for rachamim for the sake of his favourite wife it was as if he was bowing down and begging before the anonymous "ish" and this fulfilled the second dream.
    Now, we

    1. Anonymous12:11 AM

      >>> sending Binyamin along with a plea for rachamim

      Ya'akov "davened" for mercy; it was the "tefilah" of Ya'akov that was answered...

      perhaps, Garnel*, your mind is moving toward the following kal v'chomer: if when Ya'akov (with his extended clan/staff/followers) was strong enough to put up some manner of fight with Eisav's 400, he not only prayed but bowed 7 times (33:3) to his brother, how much moreso now, when Ya'akov is a relatively "broken man" facing an Egyptian army, would he, in addition to his prayer, bow to the ""ish"" in the distance... ?

      *still with the "Ironheart"? what of pasuk ha'pasukim,
      Devarim 10:16, to circumcise the metal round the lev?

  2. Anonymous8:38 PM

    2) why Shimon? does the shin-mem-ayin of his name mean that Yosef forgave, not just his brothers, but also the Yishmaelim who brought him down to Mitzrayim, 39:1? after all, neither party was responsible for Yosef's Egyptian adventure, but rather G-d (45:5)...

    {a reason, in reverse, why Moshe omitted Shimon from his closing blessings of the tribes? he wanted no bracha flowing through those 3 letters, used as name, to bleed over to the 12 nations of Yishmael:
    1. Yishmael is the 'av' name built of shin-mem-ayin, Shimon only a 'toldah'; 2. Avraham had desperately wanted Yishmael to receive blessing, & Hashem had complied (17:20); & 3. Yishmael's name appears
    three times from 17:23-27, at the first enacted covenant of bris mila,
    suggesting some nearly integral prominence to his person/line... these
    three conditions would make a crossover 'resonance' of the two names, Shimon~~~Yishmael, a real danger, given that Moshe, to bless Shimon, would
    at least need to concentrate on his name, if not pronounce it}