I am Yoisef, is my father still alive?
Last week: Paroy dreamt of cows, wanted clarification, none of his advisors provided satisfaction; the newly re-installed wine steward recalled his own crazy dreams being correctly deciphered by some Jewish slave he did time with. After 12 years, Yoisef was freed, cleaned-up, given a haircut, new clothing, solved Paroy’s mysterious dreams, appointed viceroy, married Osnas and had two kids. Meanwhile, a few miles away, Yankif and his family, affected by the famine Yoisef correctly predicted, sent 10 of his boys down to Mitzrayim to buy food. They encountered Yoisef, now also in charge of food distribution. He immediately recognized them, they didn’t recognize him. Payback is a bitch and Yoisef decided to taunt his brothers by keeping his half-brother Shimoin hostage demanding that the others bring his full brother Binyomin. Now down two children, Yankif wasn’t overly excited with this idea but after Yehuda guaranteed his safety, he relented. Little brother Binyomin made an appearance, got caught up in a sting operation and was charged with possession of stolen property. In reality, he was nebech the victim of a set-up and and so the parsha ended. We were left hanging not knowing what happened to Binyomin; what was Yoisef plotting next, and what were the brothers cooking up to try saving him?
Three weeks ago: The heylige but very insanely jealous and mischievous brothers threw Yoisef into a pit, their initial intentions that he die there. At Yehuda’s suggestion, he was pulled out and sold for some cash, very little. Avada you recall that Yehuda was ostracized by his brothers over this life saving idea.
This week: Arguably one of the most emotional stories ever told, the Yoisef and his brothers saga which has been the main story line for the last three parshas, continues, and welcome to Parshas Vayigash. A highly charged and emotional family reunion, in fact two of them, worthy of movie scripts, the role of Serach bas Osher and more, much, it’s all in the parsha. Who’s she? Halt zich eyn, soon we’ll tell you . And back by popular demand from a few select oisvorfs and you know who you are, the Oisvorfer’s favorite Medrish on DNA evidence, a holdover from last year, proving once again how clever these writers were; ahead of their time mamish. It’s givaldig, it’s great, it’s the Toirah! The buildup, like most, if you chap, is givaldig, exciting and complete; we’re plottizng to find out what happened next. Nu, let’s learn.
And as the Parsha opens, Binyomin is still being held hostage, the brothers who have successfully covered up the Yoisef saga for kimat 22 years, are afraid to go home and tell Yankif yet another buba mayseh (bs story). One can mamish feel the tension; it’s palpable. Yehudah has guaranteed Binyomin’s safe return, what to do? Tensions between the brothers and Yoisef whom they still believe to be an Egyptian viceroy, are at a boilng point. And then – just like that- like after many other build-ups, it’s all over rather quickly, if you chap. That notwithstanding, Parshas Vayigash remains les man dipolig (no one would argue) efsher the most emotional in the gantze Toirah kula (entire Toirah). Which of you oisvorfs doesn’t get the chills when you hear the baal koreh read those five chilling words of ’I am Yoisef, is my father still alive’? Don’t be a wisenheimer, the Oisvorfer meant five Hebrew words! אֲנִי יוֹסֵף הַעוֹד אָבִי חָי
Ober before the big moment, there’s tension and drama: In the very first possik of Vayigash Yehudah, trying to negotiate his little bothers release says the following to Yoisef: ‘you are like Paroy,’ Are these words of endearment?
|Then Yeudah approached him and said, “Please, my lord, let now your servant speak something into my lord’s ears, and let not your wrath be kindled against your servant, for you are like Paroy.||
יח. וַיִּגַּשׁ אֵלָיו יְהוּדָה וַיֹּאמֶר בִּי אֲדֹנִי יְדַבֶּר נָא עַבְדְּךָ דָבָר בְּאָזְנֵי אֲדֹנִי וְאַל יִחַר אַפְּךָ בְּעַבְדֶּךָ כִּי כָמוֹךָ כְּפַרְעֹה:
Says the Medrish (B’reishis Rabba): Yehuda was telling Yoisef that he’s a homosexual! Shoin, noch a fegile (yet another homosexual)! Did the Oisvorfer just write those words? Efsher you’re wondering where the Oisvorfer always digs up these medroshim ober Raboyseyee, he doesn’t. This medrish can be found in the Rashi on the very first posik and who knew better? Ginig shoin (enough already) with the sex and homosexuality; is every character we read about in the last few weeks a homosexual? What’s pshat here and why does the Medrish think that Yehuda was suggesting that Yoisef, like Paroy, was also a homosexual? And in general, why is it that in the last few weeks the Merdrish suggested that other characters too wanted to engage in gay sex? It this Medrish and what’s taka pshat here with all this sex and gay talk? Says the Medrish azoy (like this): Yehuda said to Yoisef: “Just as Paroy is a homosexual, so too are you interested in young boys.” Charges are flying: first we heard that Mr. Potiphar the chazir (swine) wanted Yoisef for mishkav zochor (homosexuality), of course we all know that Mrs. Potiphar also wanted him. Now we hear Yehuda state that Paroy himself is a homosexual and now in this astonishing opener, he tells the Viceroy of Egypt that he’s no different! Was this a yeshiva rebbe convention? Vey iz mir (oy vey)! Yehuda is admonishing Yoisef and is wondering aloud why Yoisef was particularly interested in Binyamin. Nu, taka an interesting negotiating tactic in a strange land, surrounded by goyim, antisimitten noch der tzi (anti-Semites, to make matters worse) when trying to get your little brother back. On the other hand, who are we to question Yehuda’s skills; didn’t he do one hec of a job negotiating for roadside favors with Tamar? He was so good; he got her down to a goat and his staff, both of them, if you chap. We also read that Yehuda, having guaranteed Binyomin’s safe return, offered himself as a slave to Yoisef and says the Abarbanel, the RBSO deals with man ‘measure for measure’: because Yehuda concocted the pan to sell Yoisef into slavery, he was now compelled to offer himself to Yoisef as a slave. The RBSO gets even, yikes!
Following Yehuda’s impassioned words, Yoisef is taken aback and after clearing the room of all bystanders, we read the most dramatic few words as quoted above. And just like that, the ordeal is over. The brothers kiss and make up and all is good in the Yankif mishpocho. Is that what happened? Not exactly and efsher you remember learning that the brothers backed away when Yiosef initially revealed himself; they didn’t believe it was their brother standing before them. And to prove his identity, Rashi quoting Medrsih Tanchuma and others, will tell us that Yoisef pulled something out of his pants and it seemingly was not his driver’s license or passport, if you chap. Nu, is it a wonder they backed off?
|4. Then Yoisef said to his brothers, “Please come closer to me,” and they drew closer. And he said, “I am your brother Yoisef, whom you sold into Egypt.||
ד. וַיֹּאמֶר יוֹסֵף אֶל אֶחָיו גְּשׁוּ נָא אֵלַי וַיִּגָּשׁוּ וַיֹּאמֶר אֲנִי יוֹסֵף אֲחִיכֶם אֲשֶׁר מְכַרְתֶּם אֹתִי מִצְרָיְמָה:
|Please come closer: He saw them drawing backwards. He said,“Now my brothers are embarrassed” (Tanchuma). He called them tenderly and pleadingly and showed them that he was circumcised.||
גשו נא אלי: ראה אותם נסוגים לאחוריהם, אמר עכשיו אחי נכלמים, קרא להם בלשון רכה ותחנונים, והראה להם שהוא מהול:
The first box above is Toirah mamish, the second, Rashi’s view of the events. Efsher you’re wondering why Yoisef decided to prove his identity by showing off his royal penis. Are you? Nu, alone you’re not and avada many including the medrish had lots to say on this topic, who wouldn’t?
Rashi was seemingly bothered by the words G’shu na eilay” (גְּשׁוּ נָא אֵלַי). and quotes a medrish (Bereisis Rabba). suggesting that to prove his identity, he showed them his royal package (b’loshoin sagi nohor): he showed them that he was circumcised. Efsher you’re wondering why the medrish felt compelled to add this elaboration? Would the sight of Yoisef’s mila (circumcision) prove his identity beyond any doubt? If the brothers were unable to recognize his face after 22 years, were they expected to recognize his package? Was that sighting supposed to jar their memories, oy vey! Nu, don’t answer that! Were they in the mikveh together?
Nu, efsher we can kler like this: efsher Yoisef did not show his bris as proof positive for identification purposes. Instead, isn’t it possible that he showed it to them so that they would know that not only was he their brother, but that he was still a good Jew and loyal to tradition? Avada it’s possible, everything is. Hey, its medirsh and when the heylige Toirah tells us that Yoisef revealed himself, seemingly it wasn’t kidding. Yikes.
Ober efsher you’re still wondering why after twenty two years, the first thing Yoisef does is pull his pants down? One would have expected Yoisef to show them his palace, his mishpocho, harem, his riches or anything else for that matter ober nisht his mila? What’s pshat here? Ver veyst? Efsher Yehuda was onto something with that accusation? Chas v’sholom (heaven forbid)! Go know…..efsher maybe this Mrs. Potiphar was attracted to his bris, or according to at least one pshat, maybe even Poti-Phera, if you chap. ver veyst?
Seemingly Yoisef wanted to show his brothers his humility, err, I mean that he was different than the Egyptians but avada you recall that just last week, Rashi made us aware that Yoisef had ordered every Mitzri to become circumcised and if that’s the case, how did flashing the royal junk prove his identity? Didn’t they now all look alike? Could one Rashi in one parsha directly contradict another in this week’s parsha? Ver veyst? Ober Raboyseyee, it’s all quite simple: though Rashi will quote conflicting medroshim, it’s no big deal. The Medrish is a compilation and different Tannaim or Amoraim offered different interpretations. If Rashi saw fit to quote these very interesting though at times conflicting medroshim, who are you to question him?
Efsher we can klerr (ponder) that he was just getting ready to swear as to his identity and needed to hold onto an item of mitzvah. Zicher (surely) you remember that swearing in pre-biblical days, required one to hold onto an item of mitzvah (Parshas Vayero). Ver veyst? In fact, next week, Yoisef will do the same thing when his father Yankif will for the final time ask him to swear. Nu, though the Rashi will taka appear only next week ober since we’re talking about that region, let’s taka see that Rashi now and then veyter, let’s move on.
|now place your hand beneath my thigh: And swear. — [from Pirkei d’Rabbi Eliezer ch. 39] As explained in the narrative of Avrahom and Eliezer (Gen. 24:2), he meant that Yoisef should swear by covenant of the circumcision.||
שים נא ידך:והשבע:
Ober before we do, let’s consider one more Medrish which tell us that Yoisef, like his father Yankif was born aposthic. And what the hec is that? Nu, lomerr lernein.
Says the Medrish (Parsahs ki-SayTzei [כי תצא]) azoy: Moishe was born aposthic. Other sources tell us that Yankif, his son Gad and Dovid Hamelech (King David) were also born aposthic. And what is that? Nu, according to Halocho (Jewsih Law), males born without a foreskin or those who lost their foreskin through means other than a formal bris ceremony (ברית מילה) , are required to have a drop of blood (hatafas-dam, הטפת דם) let from the penis at the point where the foreskin would have been (or was) attached. How does one lose his foreskin, ver veyst? But if Yoisef was taka born this way, how would showing the brothers his, convince the others that he was taka one of them? Ver Veyst?
Raboyseyee: I know you think that the heylige Medroshim are just about inyonim (topics) of a sexual nature and avada I don’t blame you. Ober (but), and as the Oisvorfer states quite often, we have to keep in mind that this was all part of the RBSO’s plan. It just so happens that at times the plan, at least according to many medroshim and many that Rashi himself quotes, also involved such matters and they shouldn’t embarrass us. Avada you shouldn’t blame the Oisvorfer for learning and quoting the medrish and avada you shouldn’t think that these are obscure hard to find medroshim. In fact, were you to take a peek into the Mikro’ois Gedoilis that your children’s school made you purchase, you would find many of them right there opposite or below the Toirah text. And that includes one Targum Yoinoson Ben Uzeal. Remember that name because soon we’ll enjoy mamish his givaldige insights. You’ll be lekking your fingers (licking your chops). What should embarrass you is your own minuvildike behavior in such matters as you try to emulate the ways of our Tzadikkim. You’re not the king, nor the viceroy and you should not be pulling your hoizen (pants) down anywhere but in your own house and even that should only be done in a tzinusdike (modest) fashion, not like you do when you’re on the road, if you chap. Ok veyter!
Shoin: mistama you already forgot that earlier on, we mentioned that Serach bas Osher might have played a significant role in this week’s events and here, straight out of a few medroshim is her amazing and givaldige story. Of course the story is emes, weren’t they there when it took place? Nu, as the Oisvorfer has stated in the past: every Medrish is avada emes, some just didn’t happen yet.
Following the brothers reunion and a shtikel later in the parsha which avada the Oisvorfer urges you to learn in its entirety, Yankif, at the request of his long lost son Yoisef, with whom he is about to reunite, will pack up his entire mishpocho and head over to Mitzrayim. The heylige Toirah will tell us that a total of 70 people arrived, though avada there is a great machloikes (disagreement) as to who was included and the real number. Among the names we will read is that of Serach bas Osher, she being the daughter of Osher. And the big deal?
Says the Medrish Hagodol (45:26) azoy: Serach accompanied by a gentle harp meant to ease the emotional intensity of the moment, was the one who revealed to Yankif that Yoisef, presumed dead for 22 years, was still alive. She would strum the strings and softly sing that Yoisef was still alive. Says the heylige Toirah that upon hearing the givaldige newsflash, Yankif’s spirit was returned to him. Says another medrish (Toirah Shleimah 45:26 Footnote 88) azoy: And because Serach, in essence, revived Yankif’s life, she herself never tasted death; she is counted among the nine people who entered Gan Eden alive. Gishmak mamish.
In two weeks, we will learn that Yoisef, his brothers and that entire generation passed away ober seemingly our heroine Serach is still alive and a good thing that she is because says the Midrash (Sehmois Rabba): Serach was alive and well and also present when Yoisef revealed the secret phrase of “pakod pakaditi.” Those two words will be used one day to redeem the Yiddin from bondage in Mitzrayim. Serach was addressed by the nation when they were unsure of Moishe’s integrity as their savior and she was able to verify his legitimacy when he indeed quoted those two words. And when the Yiddin were, over 200 years later, preparing to leave Mitzrayim, Moishe wanted to take the bones of Yoisef with them ober he didn’t know where to locate them. Nu, says the medrish (Pesikta d’Rav Kahane 11) mamish so gishmak azoy: How did Moishe know where the bones were located? Only Serach, who carried the oral tradition and was present when Yoisef was buried, could locate his bones. Serach is the link between the past and the future and she signifies the strong connection between the Oral and Written Toirah. Even more givaldige: asks Rashi (Soitah 13a) why the Yiddin in Mitzrayim could not just ask their questions to Yoisef’s grandchildren. Says the Medrish: redemption was dependent on Serach’s knowledge; without those two magical words of “pakod pakaditi” and without Yoisef’s bones, there would be no redemption.
And now my all-time favorite medrish and mistama the reason that Targum Yoinoson Ben Uzeal made his way into the big chumish, the one, our kinderlach most often get as bar mitzvah gifts. Though the Oisvorfer shared this medirsh with you last year, it’s avada worthy of being read again and taka why not? Also, since we began the parsha review with epes sexual connotations taken directly from the Rashi, it’s avada appropriate to end with a blow away Medrish that is more than amazing. Listen to this amazing story at the end of the Parsha.
|22. Only the farmland of the priests he did not buy, for the priests had an allotment from Pharaoh, and they ate their allotment that Pharaoh had given them; therefore, they did not sell their farmland.||
כב. רַק אַדְמַת הַכֹּהֲנִים לֹא קָנָה כִּי חֹק לַכֹּהֲנִים מֵאֵת פַּרְעֹה וְאָכְלוּ אֶת חֻקָּם אֲשֶׁר נָתַן לָהֶם פַּרְעֹה עַל כֵּן לֹא מָכְרוּ אֶת אַדְמָתָם:
|26. So Yoisef made it a statute to this day concerning the farmland of Egypt for the one fifth. Only the farmland of the priests alone did not become Pharaoh’s.||
כו. וַיָּשֶׂם אֹתָהּ יוֹסֵף לְחֹק עַד הַיּוֹם הַזֶּה עַל אַדְמַת מִצְרַיִם לְפַרְעֹה לַחֹמֶשׁ רַק אַדְמַת הַכֹּהֲנִים לְבַדָּם לֹא הָיְתָה לְפַרְעֹה:
Zicher you’re wondering why I placed these two heylige pisukim right here without a proper introduction. Ober Raboyseyee have no fear, I will not let you down. Grada these two pisukim look innocuous, almost boring but nothing in the heylige Toirah is boring. Now halt kup (pay close attention) as I’m about to blow your minds with this amazing p’shat. Here’s what went down.
After Yankif and his family arrived, the hunger intensified. The people were starving, only Yoisef had the keys to the food locker. The mitzrim came for food, he charged them money. When the money ran out, he traded food for their animals, stuffed and live. When that ran out, he traded food for land and soon Paroy, under Yoisef’s astute leadership, owned all the land in Mitzrayim. Yoisef made him fabulously wealthy, a genius mamish. And ever since, many world leaders, anti-Semites included, always surround themselves with a few smart Yiddin. Nu, with that background, let’s learn the pisukim above one more time.
Yoisef did not make the koihanim (goyishe priests) sell their land- he let them have it and they also had food. Says the very creative Targum Yoinoson azoy: So severe was the hunger that Yoisef successfully traded land for food, except for land that belonged to the koihanim (in this case meaning Egyptian ministers, cabinet members if you will), and the question is, why. What special relationship did he have with them, why the pity? Says Targum Yoinoson azoy: way back in Parshas Vayayshev just after Mrs. Potiphar accused Yoisef of attempted rape, she didn’t just yell rape, she fabricated evidence. She cracked open an egg, spilled the egg white only (mistama she was protein conscious) onto the bed and told Mr. Potiphar that Yoisef had spilled his seed onto her bed. You hear this Raboyseyee? Can you imagine the lengths this scorned woman went to, it’s mamish shreklich and let this be a lesson to all of you: stick to carbs, protein can be dangerous to your health, if you chap.
Anyway, imagine Potiphar’s reaction when he’s informed of Yoisef’s activities and sees what he is being told and believes is semen on the bed. Nu, as many a man would, he becomes enraged and wants to have Yoisef killed. Can you imagine that, cholila (heaven forbid). No Yoisef- no parshas Miketz and Vayigash and that would throw off the entire equilibrium of the parshious. We could have skipped the entire sefer of Shmois and gone straight to Korbonois (sacrifices).
Ober Potiphar wasn’t 100% certain that Mrs. Potiphar was telling the emes, he had some doubt about his own eishes chayil. What to do? Potiphar sought advice from the koihanim (ministers) who suggested that Potiphar check the evidence to see if it’s real. They told Potiphar to put a lit candle over the slimy substance since an egg white seemingly reacts differently to heat than does sperm. Nu, who would have thunk? Is this not a tremendous chidush (breakthrough)? Long before Barry Scheck and the Innocence Project, there was Potiphar and his ministers using DNA to exonerate Yoisef from charges of banging Mrs. Potiphar. Seemingly neither Yoisef nor the evidence stood up, if you chap, and Potiphar realized that perhaps Yoisef was not guilty of the charges. And efsher to save face and not to embarrass his wife and efsher still desirous of getting some at home, Mr. Potiphar had Yoisef locked up where he spent time with other important alleged wrongdoers; the rest is history. Nu, by now it should be abundantly clear to all of you that the RBSO runs the world and how, like the best movie directors, lehavdil elef alfay havdolois, makes every last piece of the puzzle fit? And as to why an innocent man was locked up for 12 years, nu, mistama not the first or last time, if you chap.
Years later as Yoisef is making all the Egyptians sell him their land and taxes them heavily, he remembers that the koihanim gave Potiphar sage advice and repays the favor. In fact Chazal on this parsha state that the lesson we must learn from this story is that we should never forget if someone does us a favor and reminds us to always remember, and when an opportunity presents, to repay the favor. WOW! Avada and nebech (sadly) that’s not how it all works in reality because more often than not, if you do someone a favor, especially if it involves lending money, not just don’t you get repaid, but in many cases, the person owing you the money and the favor, stops talking to you. Nebech, it’s taka emes.
In case you’re wondering who this Yoinoson Ben Uzeal was….here’s some relevant information: Yoinoson Ben Uzeal was a talmid (disciple) of the famed Second Temple era Rabbi Hillel. Over the centuries in a tradition mistama (likely) developed by the Israeli tourist association, it has become a minhag (tradition) for those seeking their bashert (soul-mates) to go visit his grave in Amuka where one can daven and also be shaken down by the schnorrers that own that route. According to legend, if one davens at his kever, he/she would be married within the year. Of course one could avoid the entire trip and get married on his/her own (or marry one’s own sibling as the Medrish suggests the heylige shvotim did). Ironically, the sage himself died at a young age – a bachelor, need I say more?
What can we learn from these brothers and Yankif’s seemingly dysfunctional mishpocho? Seemingly, even back then, and even going back to the beginning of time, there has been familial strife between brothers and among family. Azoy gait is (that’s how it goes). The heylige Toirah does not hide or cover up these relationships. Efsher it’s teaching us that despite what at times may seem like unusual behavior, including conspiracy to commit murder, a massive 22 year cover- up, brothers efsher marrying sisters, scheming to steal a birthright and myriad other such examples, people can rise to greatness. Last year, a choshovo (worthy) reader commented and suggested that nivchar (being selected) vs. nidche (being cast aside) is a major theme of Sefer B’reishis (Genesis); those chosen by the RBSO are always the good guys, their behavior at times notwithstanding. There’s still hope for many of you.
A gitten shabbis!
The Oisvorfer Ruv