The return of Osnas and much more….
Erhstens: ah lichtigen (bright) Chanuka to all. My, how time flies when we’re having fun learning the heylige Toirah hakidoisha (the holy Toirah). It’s one shabbis later and another 12 years have passed. In fact, it’s the year 2229 and our central character Yoisef has nebech been valgering in tfisa (locked up) for 12 years. But before we get to this week’s cliffhanger of a parsha, let’s avada, as we have done in the past, quickly chazir last week’s stimulating parsha of Vayeishev. In a massive conspiracy, 11 brothers plotted the murder of the 12th, then sold him into slavery for a few silver coins (the exact value, of course, subject to a machloikes). We read about an elaborate cover-up that ran 20+ years, Reuven ran an unlicensed moving company resulting in his mother’s bed being moved to another tent. Next: Yehuda, soliciting what he believed to be the local zoina (whore) on the street corner, wound up paying his own former daughter in law for favors, if you chap. Did you ever wonder why these are called favors when one is paying? Me too. Then two of Yehuda’s three sons were eliminated because, according to Rashi quoting the Medrish, they, instead of impregnanting Tamar who was married to both (not at the same time, you giferliche minuvil), spilled their seed instead, onto the floor no less. No one likes a mess and cleanup.. Yoisef became the first person in history, after rebuffing Mrs. Potiphar’s advances, to face sexual harassment charges; a model since emulated by many thousands of scorned women and their attorneys, and ended with Yoisef sharing a cell with two of Paroy’s cabinet ministers, each of whom had a dream that Yoisef successfully interpreted. It was action packed, motivating and, at times, stimulating, if you chap. Seemingly, Yehuda had to pay for favors, Yoisef was offered a freebie and walked away. Could that be the reason that he’s referred to as a naar?
Welcome to Parshas Miketz, almost always read on Shabbis Chanukah. Avada you’re wondering if the Oisvorfer will share his thoughts on this illuminating holiday and the emes is, I’m not sure yet. Let’s see how we do in the parsha.
The RBSO avada works in mysterious ways and who are we to question? This week, we will mamish see how the RBSO fills in the blanks, answers many questions that left us scratching our heads about Yankif and his clan.
Nu, let’s get started, Parshas Miketz opens with Paroy’s mysterious chaloimis (dreams) whose meaning eluded the royal advisors ober not our hero, Yoisef, who besides being a dreamer himself, has suddenly become an interpreter of dreams; people have been known to acquire many additional talents and skills while away. And as to the rest of the parsha, here it is in a nutshell. Paroy has two dreams. His wine steward newly re-instated to his post of making sure that the palace had only the finest Kedem products, finally remembered Yoisef from the time they spent together and tells Paroy all about Yoisef’s mastery as a dream interpreter. Yoisef is released, does a masterful job of deciphering Paroy’s dreams. Paroy is impressed and makes Yoisef his top advisor. Seven years later, there’s a famine, and Yankif, living in another country but not too far away, sends his sons, minus Binyomin, to Egypt to buy food. They do not recognize Yoisef when they meet him, ober (however) he recognizes them.
Yoisef tests his brothers by accusing them of being spies, arrests Shimon, and demands that they bring Binyomin, his only full brother, in order to prove they are not spies and speak the truth. Why he davka wanted Shimon? Some say because the Shimon/Levi combo was a dangerous duo, no kidding! They do just that. Yoisef sets up his little brother by placing a royal palace goblet into his napasck. Binyomin too is now being held! Brotherly love mamish; time for Kiddush!
Says the Medirsh Ha-godol: that both Yoisef’s original downfall and ultimate rise to greatness resulted from dreams. His dreams of superiority and leadership over his (at times at least, less than holy brothers), fueled their flames of hatred towards him, which, as avada you recall climaxed with his sale into slavery. By the end of last week’s parsha,Yoisef had a new gig: dream interpreter par excellence. And this week it’s because of Paroy’s mysterious dreams that none of his advisors can, to his satisfaction, decipher, that Yoisef finds himself suddenly freed, all cleaned up and standing before Paroy. Happy New Year and a ksiva vachasima toiva. What’s pshat? Though the calendar says it’s shabbis Chanukah, it’s really Roish Hashona (that’s when Yoisef was released; didn’t you learn anything in Yeshiva); Happy New Year). Says the Medrish: from this amazing story we learn that “The RBSO – in the same manner in which He smites a person, he cures him.” The Medrish tells us, “Yoisef descended through a dream, and rose through a dream.” Nu, many people rise through a dream, if you chap. He fell on account of his absorption in his own fantasies, and rose as a result of his ability to focus on the dreams of others. Gishmak and beautiful mamish! Veyter.
Yoisef interprets Paroy’s two dreams to his satisfaction. Paroy proclaims Yoisef a genius, appoints him Viceroy of Mitzrayim and arranges for Yoisef to marry Osnas, the daughter of Potiphera: Osnas? How did she get back into the picture here? Last we heard about her, Shechem the chazir had known her from both sides, if you chap- so says Rashi- who else. And she was, depending on which medrish or pshat you liked, either married to Shimoin her brother or to Iyov. Is this the same Osnas or was there another that was worthy of Toirah mention? Nu lommer geyn a bissel tiefer (let’s dig deeper). Ober, to mamish chap what happened here, we need to learn at least one possik of the parsha.
|And Pharaoh named Joseph Zaphenath Pa’neach, and he gave him Asenath (Osnas) the daughter of Poti phera, the governor of On, for a wife, and Joseph went forth over the land of Egypt.||מה. וַיִּקְרָא פַרְעֹה שֵׁם יוֹסֵף צָפְנַת פַּעְנֵחַ וַיִּתֶּן לוֹ אֶת אָסְנַת בַּת פּוֹטִי פֶרַע כֹּהֵן אֹן לְאִשָּׁה וַיֵּצֵא יוֹסֵף עַל אֶרֶץ מִצְרָיִם:|
|Zaphenath-Pa’neach: He who explains hidden things, and Pa’neach has no parallel in Scripture. – [from Targum Onkelos]||צפנת פענח: מפרש הצפונות, ואין לפענח דמיון במקרא:|
|Poti-phera: He is Potiphar, but he was called Poti-phera because he became emasculated since he desired Joseph for homosexual relations.||פוטי פרע: הוא פוטיפר, ונקרא פוטיפרע על שנסתרס מאליו, לפי שלקח את יוסף למשכב זכר:|
And Yoisef married who? Let’s read that possik one more time, with Rashi who avada seems to have chapped what went down here. .
Says the heylige Toirah azoy: so enthralled was Paroy with Yoisef’s dream interpretations, he also quickly arranged for him to marry Osnas, the daughter of Potiphera. I hope you oisvorfs recall that just last week (12 years ago) it was Potiphar that had Yoisef locked up for allegedly making advances on Mrs. Potiphar. This week, seemingly Potiphar is Yoisef’s shver (father-in-law)? Are we to believe that Mr. Potiphar wants Yoisef, the same fellow that allegedly made the moves on his wife, for a son-in-law and Yoisef wants Mrs. Potiphar for a shvigger (mother-in-law)? What’s p’shat here, does this make sense? Is this another set-up for Yoisef?
Ober Raboyseyee, we need to understand and chap that the RBSO has a master plan and kimat (nearly) all the time, we have no idea what that plan is. As has been suggested in the past, we are but bit players in the grand theater. And what sounds absolutely bizarre to us is just recorded as part of the regular illustrious history of the yiddin; soon it will all become clear and illuminated just as the Chanukah candles light up the house. How soon? None of your business; your job is but to have some emuna (belief) and a desire to learn some more; let’s go veyter.
So who were Potiphar and Mrs. Potiphar? Says Rashi in the shaded box above that Poti-phera named above as a person of interest, is in fact, Potiphar, Yoisef’s former master. Says the heylige Gemora (Soitah 13b), that Potiphera, whose daughter married Yoisef, is really Potiphar, the very same fellow from last week’s parsha. Well- blow me down. And how is it that Potiphar became Potiphera? Says Rashi that Potiphar, when he acquired Yoisef for a slave, had epes desires for him and wanted to blow him down, if you chap: in other words, Potiphar, yet another groiser (big) chazir, wanted to have homosexual relations with Yoisef, loi olainu (say it’s not so). Not my words but Rashi himself; I’m just here to point you in the right direction. Was Potiphar a Rebbe in yeshiva or camp counselor gone bad? Ver veyst? Nu- and what taka happened? Says the Gemora, that he lost his package: his junk was cut off. Shoin and ouch! He was emasculated, castrated and mistama also humiliated. Without manly equipment, he was then called Potiphera. You hear this chevra? Long before Joe became Joanie and Max became Maxine, there was Potiphar who became Potiphera as the RBSO came up with His own plan to deal with deviants and save Yoisef Hatzadik from harm’s way. Efsher this is not such a giferlicha idea, a model form the Toirah mamish. And who did the cutting? The RBSO, Mrs. Potiphera, or efsher Shimoin and Levi with their bar mitzvah swords; ver veyst?
Avada not all are in agreement that Poti-Pherea in this week’s parsha is the same as Potiphar in last week’s parsha. Aside from the difference in the form of the name-it first appears as a masculine and single word, and this week, in a more feminine version and with two words-the two seemed to have different job titles. Last week, his titular position was the Head of the Butchers/Executioners, and this week, as the Koihain (Priest) of Oin. What’s pshat? Says the medrish and others that just as Mrs. Potiphar was attracted to Yoisef due to his exceptional physical appearance, Mr. Potiphar also epes like his looks and made homosexual advances towards him; both husband and wife wanted him. Says the heylige Gemora (Soita 13b and Bereishis Rabba 86), that it was because of these overtures that Potiphar became a “Saris” (impotent) as a result of Divine Intervention in order that Yoisef would not be attacked. Potiphar was so mortified over what he had attempted to do, that he renounced his former life, including his wife, and became a Priest (read: baal tshuva), enrolled in Shaar Yoshuv (inside joke) and lived there happily ever after. In other words: new name, new person and giving credence to the heylige Gemora (Rosh Hashono) where we are taught that that the penitent identifies himself going forward as “someone else”.
Nu, if we like this pshat, avada we can ask why Paroy would think that this move of Yoisef marrying Osnas would help solidify Yoisef’s ruling position? Says the Chizkuni and Da’as Zekeinim MiBa’alei HaToisfis: that by marrying Potiphar’s daughter, Yoisef silenced a potential critic. In other words: it was pure blackmail. They needed a way to silence Potiphar about Yoisef’s past as a slave. Once his daughter married Yoisef he would have every incentive to keep quiet. Make sense to you? Great! Grada I would have thought that after having his boys altered or even removed, ouch, that he wouldn’t need any more incentive to be quiet. Moreover, without his boys, if you chap, how loud could he yell anyway? Ver veyst (who knows?)
Some reject RambaN’s view that Potiphar became a baal tshuva and therefore would not ever speak loshoin horo again. Had Yoisef married someone else, either his first master or his master’s wife could have, at any time, brought up the earlier scandal and undercut Yoisef’s authority significantly. However, now that they had the welfare of their daughter to think about, they would be far more reticent about revisiting the past. Nu, yet another example where reputation management is taka vital (see www.yourinternetdefender.com for more information). Moreover, by marrying Osnas, Yoisef made a statement that he was innocent of the earlier charges leveled against him by Mrs. Potiphar, who would most certainly not have allowed him to marry her daughter had he actually tried to make advances towards the mother. Chap all that?
Back to Osnas: who was she? We have to assume that since she was Potiphera’s daughter, that he had her before his sex change surgery, or efsher (maybe) we can kler (posit) that efsher (just maybe) she wasn’t his daughter? Mistama you’re wondering- how could she be and not be his daughter at the same time? Nu, let’s see, chap nisht, let’s play it out. Let’s see veyter. Says the possik above, ‘And Paroy gave Osnas the daughter of Poti Pherra to Yoisef as a wife.’ Was Osnas really Potiphar’s daughter? Says the Da’as Zekeinim that Osnas was in fact, not the daughter of Potiphar and his wife, but rather, the daughter of Dinah and Shechem, remember her? How did Dinah end up in this parsha? Nu, let’s recall what we learned. She was Yankif’s daughter who as the heylige Toirah described just last week, left the house to check out the scene, was raped and tortured by Shechem, got pregnant and had a daughter by him. Some say this daughter was, in fact, Osnas who was later banished from Yankif’s house and wandered to Mitzrayim where she was raised by Potiphar and his wife who, in his benevolence, also ran a home for runaways. Efsher Sanduski is an eynikel (great or not so great great grandson) that took over the business?
When Yoisef was appointed second in command in Mitzrayim he suddenly became the most eligible bachelor in the land. How did the shidduch of Yoisef and Osnas come to be? Why did he agree to marry Potiphar’s daughter after he had been sent away and locked up for so many years? All good questions but our sages were brilliant and had answers for all these questions, most of which they just made up. Say the Daas Zekeinim azoy:
Yoisef was so good looking that wherever he went women would throw their jewelry towards him (think Beatles 1960’s). When the eligible young ladies of Mitzrayim started throwing their jewelry and other zachen (things) at Yoisef, Osnas threw a golden amulet which identified her as a granddaughter of Yankif, Yoisef took her as his wife, they had two boys, and they all lived happily after… Of course you won’t find this in the heylige Toirah but for those midrashim who couldn’t accept Yoisef marrying a shiksa, the following account seems more logical. Perhaps Yankif had Osnas removed from his home, deeming it a disgrace for the offspring of the union between Dinah and Shechem to be living among the rest of his very holy, well adjusted and perfect children. Would Yankif kick his own eynikel (granddaughter) out of the house? I’ve heard of parents kicking kids out but grandparents? Avada we know that Avrohom sent his own son Yishmoel packing, didn’t Kayin kill Hevel? Didn’t both Rivka and Yitzchok send Yankif away? Ober in all these cases, it was the parent doing the sending; grandparents don’t send away eyniklich (grandchildren). But you shouldn’t think that Yankif was heartless: chazal tell us that he placed an amulet around her neck with some Hebrew lettering stating that she (Osnas) came from the seed of Yankif. Actually the seed according to this p’shat wasn’t quite from Yankif’s family, but you get the point. She was then led by a Malach (angel) to Mitzrayim, where Potiphar and his wife adopted and raised her. Thus, when Yoisef married Osnas, he was actually marrying somebody who stemmed from the family of his father; his half sister’s daughter; gishmak or what? Dizzying enough? Nu, so much for Yichus, and let that be a lesson to today’s mishpochos focusing on the wrong issues.
Whatever did really take place is none of your business you giferliche oisvorfs that you are and one day when Moshiach comes, he’ll tell us what really happened. Until then, if it excites you to know that Yoisef’s wife to be, threw her jewels at Yoisef or that Osnas was or wasn’t a shiksa, it’s all good. Either way, there’s a medrish somewhere to support your view. For us, let’s stay focused and stop thinking about Osnas and Potiphera- remember that it’s all part of the master plan.
Nu, Yoisef is free, well almost free. Let’s not forget that he just got married and had two children. He is powerful, second only to Paroy and has his own chariot; free to move about the cabin. And just about now, you must be klerring (pondering and thinking), hey, what about his dad, his family, his brothers, anyone? Does he go about looking for them, checking his contact list on his devices or even sending email or a messenger? Epes? The answer is no and if you’re bothered by this, you’re not alone.
Other stuff goes down in the parsha and let’s quickly review. By rivei (the fourth aliya) and just as Yoisef had predicted, the famine hit Mitzrayim. Surrounding countries too were affected and Yankif and his sons, now living in Choron were running out of food. Yankif sends all of his sons other than Binyomin down to Egypt to buy food. One medrish tells us that on their way, it is the brothers’ intention to look for Yoisef, their lost brother, because they regretted selling him. Exactly where they thought they might find him after selling him 20 years earlier to a band of traveling spice dealers, nu, we are not taught and it is a shtikel shver to chap and digest, ober let’s roll with it. When the brothers arrive to Mitzrayim, they have to go to their brother Yoisef to request food, but they don’t recognize him because he has grown up to be a man. The brothers bow down to Yoisef, fulfilling Yoisef’s dream of his childhood.
Asks the RambaN: How is it that Yoisef, after living many years in Mitzrayim, having attained a high and influential position in the house of an important Egyptian official, did not send his father even one message to inform him (that he was alive) and comfort him? Egypt is only six days’ travel from Chevroin, and respect for his father would have justified even a year’s journey! It would have been a grave sin to torment his father by leaving him in mourning and bereavement for himself and for Shimoin; even if he wanted to hurt his brothers a little, how could he not feel pity for his aged father? Taka an excellent kasha.
Asks the Abarbanel: Why did Yoisef hide his identity from his brothers and speak harshly to them? It is criminal to be as vengeful and recriminating as a serpent! How is it that as his brothers were starving and far from home, having left their families and small children and, above all, his aged, worried and suffering father waiting for them, did he not show compassion, but rather intensified the anguish by arresting Shimoin?
Answering his own question, the Abarbanel offers the following explanation and excuse: Seemingly Yoisef wasn’t convinced that the brothers really did repent and even after he tested his brothers by accusing them of espionage, he was still not certain whether they loved Binyomin or whether they still hated Rochel’s children, himself included. What to do? He focused on his little brother to see whether they would try to save him.
Says the medrish that Yoisef’s behavior is part of an overall scheme to test the brothers and provide them with an opportunity to do real and complete t’shuva (full repentance for selling him into slavery. The sin of the brothers is one of the more serious sins related in entire Sefer b’reishis, you think? Says the heylige Toirah and the Novee (Prophets) (Yoiel 4, Amos 2:6-10) and many others, that the sin of selling a free man into bondage is equated with the gravest of sins. Yoisef is making sure they are really changed people.
Ober Raboyseyee, have we given Yoisef the benefit of the doubt; he has nebech been suffering so many years. Could it be that efsher (maybe) taka Yoisef did not know that his brothers had fooled their father with the tunic, the blood, and the lie that Yoisef had been devoured by wild animals? Such thoughts never occurred to him! According to this line of thinking, it was Yoisef who spent thirteen years of slavery in Egypt and, the following years of greatness wondering: “Where is my father, my mishpocho? Why has no one come to look for me?” Egypt is, after all, close to Canaan, and Yankif was a rich, important and influential man, with international familial and political connections. The Midianites or Yishmaelites who brought Yoisef to Egypt were his cousins; is it possible that no one from that caravan could be located in all those years? We know that Yankif does not search for his son, as he thinks Yoisef is dead, but Yoisef has no way of knowing this.
And the bottom line: as I’ve said over and again, it’s mamish shver (difficult) to make sense of the events as recorded especially for many of you who are stam oisvorfs. In fact, I believe it’s hard for Rabbi’s and others who write on these topics to really state a case under which some of the events were really logical. Ober it’s our history as the RBSO wanted it to play out. Sit back and take it all in. Not every medirsh has to be true, nor can they all be.
A gitten shabbis-