Weekly Parsha Review Laced with Humor and Sarcasm from The Oisvorfer Ruv

Miketz 2012- Hapax Legomenon

zebraRaboyseyee and Raboyseyettes:

Hapax Legomenon

Ershtens: a freylichin Chanuka, Happy New Year and a Ksiva Vachasima Toiva. Has the Oisvorfer gone mishuga? Don’t answer that! Ober what’s taka  pshat?  Though the calendar says it’s shabbis Chanukah, though Roish Choidesh Teyvas is upon us, though it’s December and though we will have the special zichus of hearing Parshas Miketz this shabbis, ober says the Medrish:  a key event headlining the parsha, Yoisef’s coming out, took place on Roish Hashona. Shoin a gittin yom tov! Cows and Chanuka combine this week, ober the horse pictured above, tells us the entire story, it’s givaldig!

Nu, where was I?  It’s one shabbis later and another 12 years have passed. In fact, it’s the year 2229 in our illustrious history.  We’re two weeks away from the end of Sefer Bereishis where Yankif will bentch (bless) his children, some anyway. They will forever be known as the holy shevotim (tribes) from which all the Yiddin were or remain associated with. And let’s avada remember that though they became holy and though the Koihain Godol (high priest) will wear their names on his breastplate, they had a shtikel past. Avada that should be pleasing news to you: second chances are the RBSO’s hallmark, most of the time. Though the brothers, sans Binyoimin were all part of a  massive conspiracy to kill Yoisef and then sold him into slavery for a few silver coins (the exact value, of course, subject to a machloikes), they’re still breastplate worthy. Though  Reuven either moved his mother’s bed or mounted it, he too was forgiven and though Yehuda, solicited what he believed to be the local zoina (whore) on the street corner, and instead wound up paying his own former daughter in law for favors, if you chap, he too was a good guy. As an aside, did you ever wonder why these are called favors when one is paying? Me too. 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. 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?

Says the Medrish Ha-godol: “The RBSO – in the same manner in which He smites a person, He cures him.” Yoisef’s original downfall and ultimate rise to greatness resulted from dreams. Many people taka rise during their dreams, if you chap ober Yoisef’s rise will be sustained, if you chap. Shoin! 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. The Medrish tells us, “Yoisef descended through a dream, and rose through a dream.” He fell on account of his absorption in his own fantasies, which is mamish quite the opposite of what many of you Oisvorfs do, if you chap, 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, gives him a new goyishe name and arranges for Yoisef to marry Osnas, the daughter of Potiphera: Osnas? Who is she? Nu, though we covered her last year, mistama you want to read about her one more time and you will ober halt zich eyn (keep your pants on). Did we just read that Yoisef too got a new name? Why are so many important Toirah characters getting new names? Avrom to Avrohom. Sorai to Soro, Yankif to Yisroel and this week Paroy calls Yoisef by the new name of  ‘Tofnas Payne’ach’.

Given that Paroy did not know or speak any Hebrew, we assume that he gave Yoisef an Egyptian name and like the change of his clothing, his new name signified a change in identity. What do these words mean? Ver veyst, and seemingly not many really knew and those who did didn’t all agree as to its meaning. Some say that in Egyptian it means ‘God Speaks, he lives’. In modern Hebrew, the root pane’ach means to ‘decipher.’

Ober asks the  Ramban: Has the heylige Toirah provided us with the Egyptian name? If so, what is its meaning- since we do not know ancient Egyptian? On the other hand, if the Toirah has rendered Yoisef’s Egyptian name into Hebrew, then we really don’t know what his [Egyptian] name [given by Paroy] was. Says Rashi: Yoisef’s title ‘pane’ach’ is a unique word in the heylige Toirah as it appears only once. And here’s a shtikel interesting tidbit for the shabbis tish: one-time-only words have a technical name: hapax legomenon. Says Ibn Ezra: Pane’ach is one of the unusual 4-letter roots, it is clearly a quadriliteral root (having four root letters) where Hebrew typically has triliteral roots. Taka big words for a Brooklyn education, no?

45. And Paroy named Yoiseph Zofnas Pa’neach, and he gave him Osnas the daughter of Poti phera, the governor of Oin, for a wife, and Yoiseph 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:

Says Rashi: 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:

Says Ibn Caspi, (a pashtan and rationalist): Thus, it means ’revealer of hidden things’, and one shouldn’t complain that this meaning for Paneach is not found elsewhere in Scriptures, for via our sins and the sins of our ancestors, we have lost perfect knowledge of our languages, as the Rambam explains in Moreh Nevuchim. Nu, it’s comforting to know that our ancestors weren’t angels either, yet the RBSO still loved them and avada that’s also good news for you.

Efsher you’re wondering if a nice Jewish boy like Yoisef or even an oisvorf like yourself may even have a goyishe name and says Reb Moshe Feinstein, OBM (Igrois Moishe, Orach Chaim 4:66) azoy: he rules that there is no legal prohibition in using a non-Hebrew or non-Jewish name, even though it is preferable to use one’s Jewish or Hebrew name. Does everyone agree? Avada nisht (of course not) and Rabbi Yekusiel Yehudah Halberstam (Responsa Divrei Yetziv, Likutim, 102), however, maintains that it is actually forbidden to use a non-Jewish name. He cites a verse in this week’s parsha as evidence. The possik above stated that Paroy renamed Yoisef “Tzofnas  Paneach,” an Egyptian name. Yet, in that same verse, after having been given his new name, the Toirah states, “and Yoisef went out into Egypt,” thus indicating that he still referred to himself by his original Hebrew name, Yoisef. On the other hand…his arguments may not be proof positive for others reasons. First, according to many commentaries the name “Tzofnas Pa’aneach,” is actually also Hebrew and therefore would not be relevant to the discussion. Secondly, some commentaries say that it was not a name at all, but a title, and therefore there is nothing surprising about Yoisef still being called by his original name. Settled? Ver veyst!

The drama is building, there’s tension in the air, it’s palpable mamish, and we’re one week away from a 22 year old cold case being solved, ober nuch nisht (not quite yet). As Parshas Vayeishev was coming to an end, our hero Yoisef was still valgering in tfisa (Jail). Two years earlier, he asked the wine steward, whose dream he successfully interpreted, to remember him and mention him favorably to Paroy; the minuvil didn’t. Say a few medroshim that Yoisef lost two more years of his life, his sentence was elongated from ten to twelve years because he had the temerity to ask for human intervention in getting him out of the dungeon when instead he should have relied on the RBSO. On the other hand, other medroshim teach us that Yoisef was the ultimate baal habitochoin (believer in the RBSO’s abilities to always save him). Which is it? Ver veyst?

Nu, let’s get started with Parshas Miketz which opens with Paroy’s  mysterious chaloimis (dreams) whose meanings eluded the royal advisors ober not our hero Yoisef, who besides being a dreamer himself, has suddenly become a dream interpreter. It’s zicher not the last time that people  acquired additional talents and skills while away, if you chap. And as to the rest of the parsha, here it is in a nutshell.  Paroy has two dreams. His newly re-instated wine steward, , finally (after two years) remembered Yoisef  and tells Paroy all about Yoisef’s mastery as a dream interpreter. Yoisef is released, gets a shave, haircut and new clothing and does a masterful job of deciphering Paroy’s dreams. Hopefully you recall the Oisvorfer discussing Yoisef and his many changes of clothing, all of which get Toirah mention. 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, sans Binyomin, to Mitzrayim (Egypt) to buy food. The brothers 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 knapsack. Binyomin too is now being held! Brotherly love mamish; time for Kiddush!

Why is all this happening? Why did the RBSO allow Yoisef, Yankif’s favorite, to get into such a giferliche mess? Nu, this week you’ll find out as Yoisef, once a slave, will rise to power and feed not just Mitzrayim but also his entire Mishpocho. He will inadvertently also become the catalyst for Yankif, his mishpocho and the Yiddin to enter Mitzrayim, live there and eventually become enslaved for 210 years. Why? It’s all quite simple: it’s what the RBSO wanted, remember the grand plan? The RBSO avada works in mysterious ways and who are we to question? Beginning this week, we will mamish see how the RBSO fills in the blanks and the parsha will avada answers many questions that left us scratching our heads. Veyter!

Avada the RBSO didn’t forget that Yoisef was nebech suffering and enslaved to the Mitzrim and by the middle of the parsha the tables will have turned when Yoisef will exact some measure of revenge. By then, the predicted famine now is ravaging Mitzrayim, the Mitzrim are hungry and Yoisef is now in charge of food distribution. He’s thinking retribution and here’s what took place.

In advance of the seven year famine he predicted, Yoisef stored provisions during the good times, not at all a terrible idea. He warned the Mitzrim to do the same. Says the heylige Toirah that when the hunger came, the people went to king Paroy looking for food. Paroy said, ‘Go to Yoisef, whatever he tells you, you should do.” (Bereishis 41; 55). And listen to this more than amazing Medrish (Tanchuma) which says azoy: When the people came to Paroy asking for food, he asked them why they had not set aside provisions for themselves during the years of plenty. They replied that everything they had in their storehouses had rotted, so Paroy told them to go to Yoisef. However, they replied that Yoisef would only give them food if all the males first circumcised themselves. Said Paroy: do whatever Yoisef asked, for if he was able to make their grain rot in the storehouses, perhaps he would also be able to kill them if they did not comply with his demands. Yoisef got his way. After the men had been circumcised Yoisef sold them food. Yoisef had them all cut down to size in exchange for food? What’s pshat here?

Efsher you’re wondering how or why the penis was connected to the sale of food. Why was Yoisef insistent that the Mitzrim goyim (gentiles) be cut down to size, if you chap? Were they too big, did it make them hungrier, if you chap? Or maybe you’re just wondering how it was that Yoisef was able to store the grain without it rotting, yet the Mitzrim couldn’t? Was he a miracle worker? Or maybe you’re wondering why he was hung up, if you chap, on this particular mitzvah of circumcision, a law that does not apply to the goyim? What’s pshat here? Avada the Medrish wouldn’t leave one hanging, especially after a bris, if you chap, and here are a few potential answers.

Says the Yofeh Toi’ar: Yoisef knew of the imminent exile of the Yiddin to Mitzrayim, and was worried that they would become attracted to the hot shiksa Mitzri girls (and that the Yiddin couldn’t epes measure up, if you chap).   Avada he also had the foresight though not the foreskin and chapped that the Mitzrim would poke fun of the circumcised Yiddin. In order to prevent this potential embarrassment to the Yiddin who would want to patchke with the Mitzri girls,  he made all the Egyptians also circumcise themselves. Shoin and gishmak mamish and avada it’s no wonder that Yoisef is ever popular and a Jewish hero. And while many other good Jews have laid the groundwork to prepare their brethren for life with a good education, Yoisef wanted to ensure that the Yiddin also enjoyed life and had a greater variety to select from.

Could this be a real Medrish and is that really what they had in mind with this pshat? Is circumcision the best guarantee that the Yiddin would not assimilate? Seemingly, circumcision en masse, would have the opposite affect, and logic would dictate, if you chap, that by removing the main physical difference between the Mitzrrim  and the Yiddin, assimilation would rise, if not soar.   Ober says the She’lah azoy: Yoisef was trying to wean the Mitzrim away from their sexual depravity. And says the heylige Toirah (Vayikro 8; 3):  the Yiddin are warned  to refrain from the deviant sexual practices of the Mitzrim, “Do not perform the practice of the land of Egypt in which you dwelled…”. Yoisef foresaw that the Mitzrim would eventually be punished in the future for their behavior, and therefore hoped to temper or limit their actions through circumcision. Has circumcision ever limited oisvorfish behavior? Ver veyst?

Another view: Says The RambaM (Guide for the Perplexed 3; 33): that the covenant of Bris Milah is sealed on the organ of reproduction to teach us restraint in regard to our sexual desires. Circumcision symbolically shows that we limit ourselves, and set guidelines and rules about our physical conduct. Clearly Yoisef personifies the highest level of sexual restraint. And avada you recall the heylige Oisvorfer telling you a few weeks back that he carries the appellation Tzadik because he showed givaldige restraint by not succumbing to Potiphar’s wife. And therefore he is closely associated with  Bris Milah. Gishmak mamish!

What does the penis have to do with food? Ver veyst, and  Yoisef isn’t the first of Yankif’s special kinderlach who ordered a mass circumcision.  Penis envy, ver veyst? Mistama you think that the Oisvorfer is making this all up but its 100% emes. And avada you recall that just a few weeks back, when Shechem, the chazir (swine), following his rape of Dina, wanted to marry her, that Shimon and Levi ordered that all males get circumcised. And now, it’s Yoisef’s turn.

Make sure you tune in for Vayigash next week when Yoisef  will pull down his own pants and show his brother his bris. Nu, efsher you’re wondering how Yoisef, by showing his little brother Binyomin (next week)  his own circumcised penis, will prove the he, Yoisef, is Jewish, when by then, after Yoisef’s order, all the males were also in the same state? Taka an excellent kasha ober let’s not jump ahead. Who says every Medrish needs to agree with the others? Each medrish is told to fit a particular story or event. It’s medrish: it could or may not be what happened but nice to read and mistama makes sense in the context relayed. Stop thinking so much!

Nu, mistama you want to read all about Osnas, the daughter of Poti Phera, who married Yoisef and though we taka covered this topic last year and efsher also the year before, mistama you want to hear it again. Here we go.

And Paroy named Yoisef Zofnas Pa’neach, and he gave him Asenath(Osnas) the daughter of Potiphera, the governor of On, for a wife, and Yoisef went forth over the land of Egypt.Says Rashi:)

Poti-phera: He is Potiphar, but he was called Poti-phera because he became emasculated since he desired Yoisef for homosexual relations. Yikes!!! (my comment) פוטי פרע: הוא פוטיפר, ונקרא פוטיפרע על שנסתרס מאליו, לפי שלקח את יוסף למשכב זכר:


מה. וַיִּקְרָא פַרְעֹה שֵׁם יוֹסֵף צָפְנַת פַּעְנֵחַ וַיִּתֶּן לוֹ אֶת אָסְנַת בַּת פּוֹטִי פֶרַע כֹּהֵן אֹן לְאִשָּׁה וַיֵּצֵא יוֹסֵף עַל אֶרֶץ מִצְרָיִם:

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 who 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, was a minuvil chazir(pig) who 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? Potiphar became Potiphera when 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 from 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-Phera 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), became a Rebbe in a Yehsiva 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 1960s). 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.

A gitten Shabbis and a freylichin Chanukah-

The Oisvorfer Ruv

Yitz Grossman

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