While everyone knows that Yaakov (Jacob) sired 12 boys and one daughter by the name of Dina who got into all sorts of trouble in last week’s parsha (raped and more by the chazir Shechem who was eventually killed by Shimon and Levi with their bar mitzvah swords), did you know that Yaakov also seemingly had other daughters? Perhaps as many as 12 of them? He did? And the heylige Toirah does not mention their births? Is that emes? We shall find out below.
What happens when a man is married to four women -at the same time- and has 12 boys and one girl, with each wife having contributed to the brood? Let’s find out. Favoritism, dysfunction, avada jealousy, and much more. And where in the heylige Toirah can we find this play out? In this week’s parsha of Vayeshev which covers these very topics and much more. What more is there? This parsha also covers a sexual roadside encounter between a father-in-law and his former daughter-in-law resulting in instant pregnancy; death as a result of onanism, sexual harassment by Mrs. Potiphar against Yoisef, and so much more. When you get done reading this week’s parsha, along with Rashi’s interpretations, and when a few medroshim are added for some color, you will zicher be left scratching your collective heads and wondering why the RBSO davka selected Yaakov to become the father of the B’nai Yisroel (the Yiddin), and his boys, the holy shvotim (tribes) from whence the rest of us all trace our lineage back to. And you will zicher be amazed to learn that the Moshiach himself will one day trace his own yichus (pedigree) all the way back to that roadside encounter between Yehuda -he the leader of the tribes- and Tamar, who decided to dress up as a hooker in order to ensnare him. One cannot make this stuff up.
You will also be left in a state of amazement and wondering why -in today’s times- when it comes to shiduchim (matchmaking), people ask silly nonsensical and zicher non relevant questions about the parents’ eating and dressing habits, and other silliness. Let’s get real. If the RBSO selected our shvotim for greatness and made sure that the Moshiach would come -as did Yehudah, if you chap, from a roadside sexual encounter, does it really make a difference if the family your children want to marry into, do or don’t use plastics utensils from time to time, wear house-robes, cover their hair, go to the movies, tear toilet paper on shabbis, open packs of sweetener and efsher also the refrigerator on shabbis? The list goes on. And wait until you hear whom and what the heylige shvotim picked as life partners. Wake up! And with that rant over, let’s review a few interesting pisukim (verses) in the parsha. Let me remind you that this is our 9th go around of Vayeshev, and if you don’t find your favorite Oisvorfer take on a topic close to your heart, you will likely find it in the archives over at www.oisvorfer.com.
As you well know, Vayeshev features, among other storylines, a plot to kidnap and kill Yoisef. Out of the goodness of their hearts, mamish, and after some coaxing from Reuvain and Yehudah, the fabulous brothers decided to instead sell their little brother into slavery. How much did Yoisef fetch? A total of 20 silver coins. And if that weren’t enough, they also -mitzvah boys and teens that they were- decided to cover up their crime and lie to their father. A conspiracy mamish. As an aside, this lie and cover-up would continue for over two decades. Such nice midos (character traits). Let’s review a few critical pisukim. Says the heylige Toirah (Bereishis 37:31-35):
|31. And they took Joseph’s coat, and they slaughtered a kid, and they dipped the coat in the blood.||לאוַיִּקְח֖וּ אֶת־כְּתֹ֣נֶת יוֹסֵ֑ף וַיִּשְׁחֲטוּ֙ שְׂעִ֣יר עִזִּ֔ים וַיִּטְבְּל֥וּ אֶת־הַכֻּתֹּ֖נֶת בַּדָּֽם:|
|32. And they sent the fine woolen coat, and they brought [it] to their father, and they said, “We have found this; now recognize whether it is your son’s coat or not.”||לבוַיְשַׁלְּח֞וּ אֶת־כְּתֹ֣נֶת הַפַּסִּ֗ים וַיָּבִ֨יאוּ֙ אֶל־אֲבִיהֶ֔ם וַיֹּֽאמְר֖וּ זֹ֣את מָצָ֑אנוּ הַכֶּר־נָ֗א הַכְּתֹ֧נֶת בִּנְךָ֛ הִ֖וא אִם־לֹֽא:|
|33. He recognized it, and he said, “[It is] my son’s coat; a wild beast has devoured him; Joseph has surely been torn up.”||לגוַיַּכִּירָ֤הּ וַיֹּ֨אמֶר֙ כְּתֹ֣נֶת בְּנִ֔י חַיָּ֥ה רָעָ֖ה אֲכָלָ֑תְהוּ טָרֹ֥ף טֹרַ֖ף יוֹסֵֽף:|
|34. And Jacob rent his garments, and he put sackcloth on his loins, and he mourned for his son many days.||לדוַיִּקְרַ֤ע יַֽעֲקֹב֙ שִׂמְלֹתָ֔יו וַיָּ֥שֶׂם שַׂ֖ק בְּמָתְנָ֑יו וַיִּתְאַבֵּ֥ל עַל־בְּנ֖וֹ יָמִ֥ים רַבִּֽים:|
|35. And all his sons and all his daughters arose to console him, but he refused to be consoled, for he said, “Because I will descend on account of my son as a mourner to the grave”; and his father wept for him.||להוַיָּקֻ֩מוּ֩ כָל־בָּנָ֨יו וְכָל־בְּנֹתָ֜יו לְנַֽחֲמ֗וֹ וַיְמָאֵן֙ לְהִתְנַחֵ֔ם וַיֹּ֕אמֶר כִּֽי־אֵרֵ֧ד אֶל־בְּנִ֛י אָבֵ֖ל שְׁאֹ֑לָה וַיֵּ֥בְךְּ אֹת֖וֹ אָבִֽיו:|
In short and just in case you’ve been in space your entire life, here’s what went down. The brothers were jealous of the affection their father showed Yoisef. He was born to Yaakov’s favorite wife and real love interest. Of course he loved Yoisef. They hated that Yaakov made him a multi-colored tunic. As well, they hated Yoisef for his dreams and for bad-mouthing them to their father. They stripped him of his shirt, dipped it into the blood of a goat and sent the shirt to their father asking if he would identify it. Upon hearing the news and assuming his boys were telling him the emes that Yoisef was dead, having been torn apart and devoured by a wild animal, Yaakov did what any father would. He rend his clothing and mourned for his son. How long did he mourn? Says the Toirah (see above), “many years.” How long is many years? Says Rashi and who knew more or better, azoy: Yaakov mourned for Yoisef 22 years. Rashi then goes on and gives us the mathematical calculation to prove that Yaakov mourned Yoisef the full 22 years they did not see one another. And then the bombshell. Says Rashi quoting the medrish (Medrish Rabbah) that Yaakov was being punished by the RBSO -mida ki’neged midah- (somewhat analogous to an eye for an eye though of course not literally). Rashi is telling us that Yaakov was due 22 years of punishment and it came about through Yoisef. What terrible sin did Yaakov commit to deserve such punishment? The 22 years represented the 20 years which Yaakov spent in the house of Lovon (his father-in-law), and two years on the road while returning with his then extended family from Lovon’s house to the house and country of his birth. Says the heylige Gemora (Migilah: 17), azoy: Yaakov spent 18 months at a place he called Sukkis and six months in Beis El. Shoin! Together, that makes 22 years of separation.
Ober shtelt zich di shaylo (the question arises): what terrible sin did Yaakov commit while at Lovon’s house? Was he not specifically sent there by his parents while on the run from an angry Eisav? And didn’t they instruct Yaakov to specifically go to the house of Lovon and there to find himself a suitable wife? They did! And wouldn’t they be overjoyed to hear that Yaakov found not just one wife who suited his needs, but four? One would think. So we ask again: what taka did Yaakov do wrong? Nu, if that question was on your mind, you are not alone: many commentators and exegetes were bothered by this same question.
Ober the Sifsay Chachomim quoting Rabaynu Bachaya gives us a bombshell for an answer which goes azoy. Yitzchok and Rivka taka did send Yaakov to the house of Lovon. He was instructed to find himself a wife and come back. Ober did Yaakov listen? Seemingly not. They wanted him to go directly there and marry Leah, Lovon’s older daughter and then immediately return. Ober what did Yaakov do? First he detoured at the (efsher mythical) yeshiva of Sheim & Ever. How long? Fourteen years. Supposedly he was learning. What? We don’t know the curriculum. Efsher he was studying the ins and outs of polygamy, ver veyst. Efsher he took a few real estate courses. Maybe he was avoiding marriage? Efsher he heard that Leah had soft eyes, that she cried a lot? Ver veyst. The bottom line: he did not go and come as they had wanted or instructed. And when he did get there, he spotted Rochel, and despite learning in yeshiva for fourteen years where mistama his rebbe warned him about not touching girls- the first thing he did upon seeing Rachel was kiss her!? Yikes! And then? So smitten was he, that he offered himself in servitude to Lovon for seven years. In the end, he did a twenty year stint. The bottom line: he did not respect his parents’ wishes.
Ober wasn’t Yaakov on the run from an angry Eisav who had openly suggested he would one day kill him? Isn’t that a good reason to lay low? Ober says the Be’er Basodeh (35:8) azoy: the coast was already clear after year fourteen, just after leaving yeshiva and arriving to Lovon’s house. And how do we know this? Seemingly Yitzchok and Rivka sent Devora out with a message for him to return. Devora? Who is she? Well, if you read last week’s review, we asked the same question. Seemingly she was Yaakov’s wet nurse and was sent out with a message for Yaakov to return. Ober did he listen to her? No!
Ober what has all this to do with Yaakov’s many daughters? Nu, to try to chap this topic we need to re-read posik 35 one more time. Says the heylige Toirah (Bereishis 37:35), azoy: “All his sons and daughters tried to comfort Yaakov, but he refused to be comforted.” Yaakov had daughters? Did we not read that between all four wives, only Leah gave birth to but a single daughter? We did? Just who are these daughters who were unable to comfort Yaakov? Again Rashi quoting a medrish comes to the rescue with a machloikes between Rebbe Yehudah and Rebbe Nechemya. Said Rebbe Yehudah: twin sisters were born with each of the tribes and they, the boys, (each) married (a stepsister). Well blow me down! Reuvain, Shimon, Levi and all the others were each born with twin sisters and the heylige Toirah left this amazing factoid out? We’ll get back to Rebbe Yehudah’s thinking in a moment but interrupt his view to read what Rebbe Nichemya had to say. The wives of the holy shvotim were K’nanee women: K’nanoites! Shiksas mamish? They married out! OMG! They did what and married girls from the land of K’nan? Say it’s not so!
Ober if that’s the case, why does the heylige Toirah refer to them as daughters? Because, continues the medrish: a person does not hesitate to refer to his daughters-in-law as his daughters, nor to his sons-in-laws as his sons. Shoin! Ober that does not however address the question. Is it possible that the boys were born with twin sisters and the heylige Toirah neglected to mention this to us? And is it possible that Yaakov’s children, the very people we refer to as the Shivtay Ko (the RBSO’s holy and designated tribes) were all, or mostly married to shiksas? Girls from the accursed nation of K’nan noch der tzi (to make it worse)? What’s pshat here? Moreover, don’t we know with certainty that Yoisef married Osnas? Spoiler alert: we don’t know yet but will next week. And don’t we also know that Dina’s birth is mentioned? And if her birth was mentioned, why not the other 12 girls? Is this confusing or what? But wait: there’s more to ask. How could the holy shvotim marry their own sisters? Was this permitted even pre matan Toirah (before Revelation)? Didn’t we learn that our forefathers observed the entire Toirah (which we assume was revealed to them through ruach hakoidesh (divine spirit), and by extension, their holy children too, were observers? In fact, we are taught that our zeyda Avrohom even observed the mitzvah of erev Tavshilin, a mitzvah many of us are lax in: nebech. How could they even entertain, let alone marry, either their twin sisters, according to Rebbe Yehudah, or K’nanee shiksa girls according to Rebbe Nechemya? Say it’s not so please.
Moreover, didn’t Avrohom specifically instruct his servant Eliezer -when commissioned to find a suitable wife for Yitzchok- not to take a wife from the K’nanee nation? He did, and so recounts the heylige Toirah (Bereishis 24:3) which says azoy:
|3. And I will adjure you by the Lord, the G-d of the heaven and the G-d of the earth, that you will not take a wife for my son from the daughters of the Canaanites, in whose midst I dwell.||גוְאַשְׁבִּ֣יעֲךָ֔ בַּֽיהֹוָה֙ אֱלֹהֵ֣י הַשָּׁמַ֔יִם וֵֽאלֹהֵ֖י הָאָ֑רֶץ אֲשֶׁ֨ר לֹֽא־תִקַּ֤ח אִשָּׁה֙ לִבְנִ֔י מִבְּנוֹת֙ הַכְּנַֽעֲנִ֔י אֲשֶׁ֥ר אָֽנֹכִ֖י יוֹשֵׁ֥ב בְּקִרְבּֽוֹ:|
And didn’t Yitzchok then instruct Yaakov likewise? He did and says the heylige Toirah (Bereishis 28:1), azoy:
||אוַיִּקְרָ֥א יִצְחָ֛ק אֶל־יַֽעֲקֹ֖ב וַיְבָ֣רֶךְ אֹת֑וֹ וַיְצַוֵּ֨הוּ֙ וַיֹּ֣אמֶר ל֔וֹ לֹֽא־תִקַּ֥ח אִשָּׁ֖ה מִבְּנ֥וֹת כְּנָֽעַן:|
Ober says the Da’as Zikenynim Mi’balay Hatoisfis azoy: it’s quite simple. Our forefathers taka did know the entire Toirah as it was revealed to them through ruach hakoidesh (divine spirit). Ober, though they knew it, they only observed what they felt like observing, and what they did not feel like observing, they did not! Shoin and case closed!
Does everyone agree that Yaakov had 12 daughters? Of course not! Says Rabaynu Bachaya: when the Toirah mentions in posik 35 above that all his daughters stood up to console him (Yaakov) over the loss of Yoisef (whom he presumed dead), it refers only to Dina whom the Toirah lists as being born to Yaakov and Leah, and to Serach bas Osher, Yaakov’s granddaughter. That’s it! Only two stood up. And taka so also says the Ramban who adds that of course Yaakov’s daughters-in-law, who are not identified by name anywhere in the entire Toirah, -excepting Tamar whom Yehudah has children with in this week’s parsha, stood up. Whomever they were, whether K’nannee shiksas or others, they stood up and tried comforting him.
And says the medrish azoy: even according to Rebbe Yehudah who maintains that Yaakov’s boys married their own twin sisters and they were the ones who stood up in an attempt to console Yaakov, still they were not sinners. Neither the boys, nor their twin sisters. How is that shayich (possible)? Seemingly pshat is that even under Noahide laws given to the goyim (only) back in Sefer Bereishis, a person was permitted to marry his twin sister on his paternal side. Only a twin on the maternal side was forbidden. Gishmak! What did our very clever future shvotim do? Whom did they marry? According to this pshat, the children of Leah -six of them- married the twin sisters of the boys born to Rochel, Bilha and Zilpa, and the boys born to Rochel, Bilha and Zilpa married the twin sisters born to Leah’s boys. Is medrish creative, gishmak, and real or what? Don’t answer that!
Ober what about rebbe Nechemya’s view that they married shiksas from K’nan? Was that kosher? Nu, maybe we can kler (posit) that it’s possible that the girls the boys (tribes) married were not really from K’nan. If so, why would we think otherwise? Efsher it so happened that the heylige shvotim married girls who were by chance sojourning over in K’nan, or were dwelling there? Efsher they were just there for a singles convention, ver veyst? Whatever they were, and wherever they were from, according to Rebbe Nechemya, the shvotim did not marry their own twin sisters. Why not? Likely because they did not have any! That is of course the most logical pshat for us humanoids to chap.
On the other hand, it appears to Rashi who again quotes the medrish, that it’s shayich that Yaakov believed, or knew, that the boys did in fact marry out. To K’nanee girls. And the proof? In a few weeks, over in parshas Vayichi, we will be reading of Yaakov’s passing and burial. Rashi there (Bereishis 50:13) will give us this bombshell. Yaakov did not allow his grandchildren to carry his coffin during the burial procession. What kind of a grandfather would not allow his own children to carry his coffin? And why not? Seemingly he was convinced that the boys -at least some of them- were born from K’nanai shiksas and felt they were contaminated. Let’s read that Rashi innaveynig (let’s read the text of Rashi) who said:
“And and his sons carried him but not his grandsons. For thus did Yaakov command his sons. “Do not allow to carry my bier (coffin) neither an Egyptian man nor any of your sons for they are from the daughters of Canaanite women;” only you should carry my bier.” It does appear form these words that Yaakov was convinced that his boys did marry Canaanite women and not the twin sisters born to each of his boys.
The bottom line: did the Shvotim have twin sisters? Maybe and maybe not. As an aside, there is one opinion that Yaakov had a total of 14 daughters but that for another day. Did the holy shvotim marry them? Maybe and maybe not. Did they marry K’nani girls or regular girls who lived in K’nan? Ver veyst. Pick the medrish that talks and makes sense to you. As to the others, they too are good to discuss if only to be appreciated for the genius of our sages who were imbued with special talents to either imagine reality, or were divinely inspired to share it and different thoughts on what may have gone down. As to the shvotim, the tribes we all trace our lineage back to, in the end, no matter their behavior with Yoisef, or whom they married, or not, the RBSO selected them with their faults. He has a history of selecting for greatness those with faults. Sometimes the more the merrier. And that my friends and readers is amazingly good news for all of you. Me too! Feel free to move about the cabin; you too could be selected!
A gittin Shabbis!
The Heylige Oisvorfer Ruv