This week’s Toirah review is dedicated to the Oisvorfer’s nephew Daniel whose favorite Toirah character, bar none, is Joseph; I hope you enjoy!
Of Man and his clothing:
Nu, if ever there was a good reason to be hopeful that no matter how big an Oisvorf or giferliche bum and chazir you are or were, this week’s parsha should uplift you mamish, if you chap, and by the time you get done, you’ll also chap that the RBSO gives almost everyone many chances to do tshuva (repent) and even lowlifes like many of you, can achieve great heights; second and third chances are abundant.
Parshas Vayeshev contains subject matters and stories that boggle the mind and includes a litany of vices, outrageous and efsher evil behavior among brothers, conspiracy to commit murder, Onanism (look it up), insane jealousy, violence, treachery, lust, accidental sex and much more. Nu, is there any reason to watch TV ? Avada nisht (certainly not)! This parsha has it all and then some. Learn Toirah instead, it’s the beste schoira!
Shoin! As last week’s parsha was coming to an end, we read how Reuven, Yankif’s oldest, was involved in some mischief having to do with Yankif’s wife Leah. This week, all hell breaks loose as the brothers, the future shevotim (tribes), are all (except Binyomin) involved in a massive conspiracy to commit murder, kidnapping, and a cover up. At center stage this week are Reuven and Yehuda, and wait until you hear the rest. We met Reuven last week and already know what a mess he created. Let’s see what Yehuda was up or down to as we open, not in the beginning of the parsha, but near midpoint.
Bikutzer, Yankif, like most fathers, had a favorite son and why not? Yoisef (Joseph) was, after all, born to the one wife Yankif zicher loved, so says the heylige Toirah. Sadly, she died roadside at the tender age of 36. In this week’s special and electrifying parsha of Vayeshev, another roadside incident will take place, this one involving Yehuda and his daughter-in-law Tamar, ober halt zicheyn (keep your pants on), something Yehuda should have done, if you chap. And to show his love, Yankif made Yoisef a special tunic, a multi colored coat if you will: a shmatta mamish. Of course, this all took place thousands of years before technological advances that would have allowed Yankif to give Yoisef more elaborate gifts and mistama back then, receiving a handmade shmatta was as valuable as the latest Iphone.
Ober the brider (brothers) weren’t tzifridden (happy), in fact they were insanely jealous, and what do holy and special brothers do when they’re upset? Instead of a family discussion or ratting him out to his father or three step mothers, or even a swift kick in the tuchis, they held a closed court session, convicted him at the mock trial which he never go to attend and condemned him to death. Nice! Grada (so happens), until Parshas Vayichi, which we will read in three weeks, the Oisvorfer hasn’t found one nice word written in the heylige Toirah about them. Did that stop myriad medroshim from extolling their virtues? Zicher not! Veyter. Avada you all know this story, who doesn’t? Books, movies and Broadway shows continue to make millions retelling this most amazing story of brotherly love. More on Yoisef soon ober smack in the middle of this gantze mayseh, the heylige Toirah segues into a completely different subject matter concerning Yehuda, son number four and let’s taka begin with this more than amazing and mind boggling incident.
Says the heylige Toirah: And it was at that time that Yehuda went down from his brothers, and turned to an Adullamite by the name of Chira… (chapter 38). Let’s remember this fellow Chira who gets two Toirah mentions. The Osivorfer will blow you away (so to speak) with a givaldige vort (thought) on Chira and real life, soon mamish.
What time was it that Yehuda went down and what happened? And efsher you’re wondering, and you should, as to why the Toirah places this story right here in mittin dirinin ( in the middle of the story) of Yoisef, are you?
Says Rashi, and who knew more or understood better, azoy: Yehuda went down from his brothers, meaning that the brothers lowered Yehuda from his position of leadership: he was seemingly fired! They had looked to him as the strongman, their leader, and therefore now blamed him for the sale of Yoisef. Their argument being that it was Yehuda who told the (otherwise well intentioned) brothers to sell him into slavery. They rationalized that had only Yehuda told them to give Yoisef a pass, they would have listened. You hear this chutzpah? Let’s chazir: the brothers plotted his murder, Yehuda, in a successful attempt to spare his life, suggested a sale, and now they blamed him. Is that nice? What’s pshat here?
Seemingly the brothers had a shtikel case, and says Reb Meir in the heylige Gemora (Sanhedrin 6b) azoy: Anyone who praises Yehuda angers the RBSO and Yehuda should not be praised for preventing his brothers from killing Yoiseph. Farkert (on the contrary), he deserves reproach – for instead of acting as did Reuven in trying to restore Yoisef to his father, he chose to condemn Yoisef to a life of harsh slavery in Egypt, at the same time causing untold anguish to his father. Of course, not everyone agrees with Reb Meir.
Another view: Yehuda’s life continued spiraling downward. He was in a slump mamish. In this Yehuda chapter, we’ll learn that he first married a hot shiksa Canaanite wife who bore him three kinderlach the passed away, and then he descended further through his behavior with and toward Tamar. In other words: Yehuda went down, seemingly literally and figuratively. Tamar? Who is she? Nu, before the Oisvorfer tells you this givaldige story involving a would be hooker and roadside sex, be aware that the heylige Gemora (Megilla 25a-b) lists certain sections of the heylige Toirah that are to be read but not translated. Included is the bewildering story of Reuven, who seemingly went down last week, if you chap. We avada covered this topic biarechus (at length) (Bereishis 35:22). You mean that this Reuven story was to be covered up and swept under the proverbial rug? Seemingly yes, and Chazal felt that since those passages contain material that could or would degrade our forefathers or would create theological problems for people, it was better to read them in Hebrew and omit the translation into the vernacular. And since many of the Yeshivas don’t teach the children much Hebrew, this would be a perfect solution. Shoin! Could this Chazal also be the source that many rely on when covering up more egregious behavior from Rebbes who chap the kids? Ver veyst.
That factor notwithstanding, says the Mishna: the incident of Yehuda and Tamar is both read and translated. The Gemora (25b) asks, “Is this not obvious?” ober answers the heylige Gemora that we might have thought that this incident too should not be translated out of concern for Yehuda’s honor. Sounds logical, no? Ober surprisingly enough, though Yehuda was the mastermind of Yoisef’s sale into slavery and also the same individual who solicited what he believed was a hooker to cure his loneliness after his eishes chayil passed away, the heylige Gemora concludes that we learn from the Mishna that, overall, this incident gives us a positive impression of Yehuda. Could you have read better news? A positive image? How could this taka be? Who would have imagined that soliciting the services of a would-be zoina (whore) who turned out to be your own daughter-in-law, whom you impregnated, was a resume builder? Ober Raboyseyee, here’s the givaldige news and a lesson to all of you: given that at some point Yehuda repented, his slate was now wiped clean, as was he, if you chap. With a clean slate, we can now read all about his behavior pre-tshuva, givaldig mamish! Bottom line: though Yehuda decided to solicit what he believed to be a hooker who turned out to be his own daughter-in-law, and though he paid for sexual favors, and though he impregnated her (with twins,) and though he then wanted her burned at the stake and killed when he heard that she had relations (but before he knew it was she whom he had done), since he did tshuva (repented), all was forgiven and avada we can now all learn, translate, discuss and be inspired from this amazing story. Gishmak.
Are these good enough reasons for Yehuda to be considered a tzadik, a good guy? Seemingly he gets credit for fessing up, albeit, only after Tamar ousted him. Moreover he seems to get credit for sparing her life. Seemingly, he being a holy and powerful personality could still have had her eliminated. He was a man of stature, and she was a woman without any special status, though she seemingly had other skills, if you chap. When confronted with the evidence that he indeed was the proud father-to-be of twins, said Yehuda : “she has been more righteous than I” (38:26) and with those words, Yehuda put himself back into the good graces of Chazal and therefore they ruled that this entire story warrants not just a reading of the original, but also a translation.
In case you forgot how Tamar saved her own life, here’s what took place. As she was being taken out to die, she produced some of Yehuda’s personal effects that he left behind during the visit. Seemingly, he left her with his staff, if you chap, which she produced as evidence. Another lesson worth repeating: when done visiting with local talent, put your staff away and check for all personal belongings. Tamar fingered him as a paying client (though she did extend credit). Yehuda’s good and trusted buddy Chira did make good and delivered the promised payment. Yehuda admitted to being the proud father-to-be of her packages and Tamar was spared. Twin sons, Zerach and Peretz were born, and the rest of her lineage is great history. Believe it or not the Moshiach will one day come from this union: Wow!!
Was it not possible for the RBSO to bring about the Moshiach through a more conventional relationship? Why would the RBSO choose this abnormal and illicit relationship as the heritage from which the savior of the Yiddin would eventually come? Why not a nice regular Yeshiva bochur with an excellent shidduch resume? Or even stam an Oisvorf like many of you; was it mamish necessary for Yehuda, who thought Tamar (his daughter-in-law) was a hooker, to bring Moshiach? Ver veyst!
Seemingly the RBSO had, as He always does, a master plan, and in this case, the players who were called on, performed below, if you chap, to execute a plan directed from above. And, as if to prove just how this was all bashert (pre-destined), Yehuda never approached his daughter-in-law again, no second coming, if you chap.
Says The Medrish (Bereishis Rabba 85:1) azoy: At that time, the brothers were involved in the sale of Yoisef, Yoisef was involved in sackcloth and fasting over his sad state of affairs, Reuven was involved in sackcloth and fasting over his role in the his brother’s sale and his father’s mourning, Yankif was involved in sackcloth and fasting over the loss of Yoisef, while Yehuda was involved in taking a wife; meanwhile, the RBSO was involved in the creating the light of the King. Avada you all know or should, that Moshiach, will trace his origins all the way back to Yehuda and Tamar. And says the Medrish: while other family members mourned, Yehuda was involved in productive pursuits, getting married and establishing a family.
This more than amazing story of Yehuda and Tamar is a cornerstone of repentance and personal growth, and should be a model for all of us. Grada, many people the Oisvorfer knows love this story, read it over and again and also look to Yehuda as did his brothers and ultimately his own father, as a great leader. More givaldig! And if you’re still befuddled and bewildered, you don’t yet chap the RBSO and how He runs the world. Grada this Yehuda mayseh (incident) is efsher the most powerful idea in the heylige Toirah. People are not stuck. People can change. Avada Yehuda changed (at first, into and out ofhis clothing, if you chap, which he did).He also changed his ways and in two weeks we will read how Yehuda put his own freedom on the line to rescue his brother Binyomin, ober chap nisht. He will speak passionately about family loyalty and it was Yehuda who confronted Yoisef. It will be a new Yehuda, a baal tshuva and reborn. Gishmak, no?
Shoin: last week we exonerated, at least according to some, Reuven’s actions, and this week, we exonerated Yehuda. Let’s get back to Yoisef and learn a bissel about his life this week. Was he guilty or just an innocent victim? Lommer lernin a few interesting Gemora statements. Ershtens, a look at Yoisef who is the central character mamish beginning in this week’s parsha and for the next three.
Yoisef was a shtikel hunk, very good looking and handsome, efsher even beautiful. He was? Seemingly yes and the heylige Toirah describes him with the same exact words it uses to describe how his mother Rochel looked. Moreover, he is the only male in the gantze Toirah to be so described. Chazal, with their need to understand why the Toirah used these words, decided that he was quite effeminate, that he curled his hair and painted his eyebrows. And says the Medrish (Breishis Rabbah): “Yoisef would spiff up his eyes, pirouette on his heels, fashion his hair so that he would look beautiful.).
Though he never had direct contact from the RBSO, and though not one of our three Ovois (patriarchs), he does carry the word tzadik following his name, an appellation they don’t: He is referred to as Yoisef Hatzadik (the Righteous), a title he seems to have earned from his refusal to succumb to and sleep with the Mrs. Potiphar, who goes as unidentified in the heylige Toirah. Is that all it takes, and still so few are referred to in this manner? Oy vey! One medrish does call her by name, though the Oisvorfer cannot recall it. His first brush with trouble seems to be over the Kisoines Passim (multi colored coat or tunic)his father made and presented to him. Ober Raboyseyee, the Oisvorfer, after reading this story for the 100th time, has seen the light: it appears that Yoisef’s clothing will play a central role in his life, for both good and bad. Lommer lernin.
Says the Medrish: It was further called passim in allusion to his misfortunes. The four Hebrew letters of passim: pey standing for Potiphar, samach for Soichrim (traders), yud for Yishmoeilim (Ishmaelites), and mem for Midyonim (Midianites). A Nike shirt might have caused fewer tzuris (issues).
Sold into slavery, Yoisef wound up in the house of Potiphar, the minuvil, but was well liked. Seemingly Mrs. Potiphar liked him too. Yoisef rises to power in the house of his Egyptian master. His extreme beauty attracted the unwanted advances of his master’s wife. Enraged by his rejection, she accused Yoisef of attempting to seduce her, what else is new, and he was put away, locked up.
Says another Medrish that Mrs. Potiphar, may have set her eyes on Yoisef because he was epes pre-occupied with his own appearance and she became uncontrollably attracted to him. Ober this time, to avoid her advances, he leaves his shirt behind and runs outside. She yells rape, and shoin, Yoisef will soon find himself locked up for an extended period of time. Once again, the shirt gets him into trouble.
The word “garment” is repeated six times for emphasis. Potiphar’s wife holds his garment in her hand with accusations of him trying to seduce her, when in reality he flees from her sexual advances. Ober while the text explicitly states that he refused her advances, our good Rabbis entertain the possibility that Yoisef ‘asked for it’ and that he was more than tempted. A few even go so far as to say he had taken off his clothes before the image of his tata (father) Yankif appeared to him making him reconsider. Avada an image of one’s father does not enhance the mood, if you chap.
The Toirah does tell us that he was very good looking. On a basic level, this was an incredible temptation for any person to withstand, could you – why am I even asking? The pasuk says: And it was on that day, that he entered the house to do his work (referring to Yoisef). Rashi, quoting the heylige Gemora, says azoy (like this): there are two opinions as to what the word ‘work’ refers to. Rav translates it literally, that he showed up for work like he did every day. Shmuel says no – it means that he had entered and conceded to have sex with her; say it’s not so. Rebbe Yochanan says ‘all the preliminary steps to the act of adultery had already been taken’. What those steps were, we are not told. And what happened? Says the heylige Gemora (Soita 36b), that an image of his father appeared before him and he didn’t commit the act. Zicher, you’re wondering how Yoisef could even contemplate such a heinous transgression. Answer: I don’t know, but when you work with a hot shiksa daily, epes the yetzer horah (evil inclination) can make his move; avada you can chap that and mistama you did.
Rashi, I just love him, says that Mrs. Potiphar acted le’shaim shomayim (for the sake of Hashem). She saw through her astrological predictions that she would have descendants from Yoisef. What she seemingly misread and didn’t chap (know) was that it would be from her daughter Osnas and not her, ober chap nisht – we’ll talk about her in the weeks to come.
Nu, back to Yoisef and his clothing. In next week’s heylige parsha of Miketz when Yoisef is released (12 years later), he will be offered a new set of clothing which he will wear to see King Paroy and avada if you stay tuned, you will avada read about another change of clothing, this time into royal linen robes upon his appointment as viceroy of Egypt (41:42). And in two weeks from now, in Parshas Vayigash, the Oisvorfer’s bar mitzvah parsha, Yoisef will send clothes back with his brothers. Do clothes make the man? Ver veyst, but for Yoisef, clothing changes seemed to be the hallmark of a change in fortune, good and bad!
Nu, I wanted close with a thought about Chira, remember him? The Oisvorfer has for many years been intrigued about this character that gets not one but two shout-outs in the heylige Toirah and then disappears. Who was he and how did he become Yehuda’s trusted friend, and why was he mention-worthy, yet we know nothing more about him.
Says the Medrish Rabba that Chira was in fact also Chirom, a character we find mentioned in the times of Dovid and Shlomo Hamelech, many many years later. Says Rashi that Chira was Yehuda’s partner. We are told that Yehuda went down and Rashi understands that Yehuda was down on his luck. His business failed and he was down and out. Yehuda met up with Chira who took him as a partner. Chira was also the same friend that knew about Yehuda’s tryst with Tamar, yet kept the information private. Sadly, not many people can claim a friend that they can trust with confidential information, And says the medrish that because Chira was such a good friend to Yehuda during difficult times, the RBSO liked him and rewarded him with arechus yomim (long years). Efsher a lesson during challenging times: there are opportunities to help others who are down, take advantage, the RBSO likes that.
A gitten shabbis and a freylichin Chanukah!
The Oisvorfer Ruv