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Published by: outdash2 on Dec 05, 2013
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Parshas Vayigash
 Ani Yosef, ha’od Avi chai 
?
This week’s
 parsha
 begins with Yehuda approaching the Prime Minister of Mitzrayim
 
to plead with him to return Binyomin. This Prime Minister happens to be Yosef Hatzadik but Yehuda does not know that. !nd Yehuda says to the Prime Minister "Please you must gi#e us back Binyomin. $e ha#e an old father at home and he lo#es this young boy. !nd if this young boy is not returned this old father might die of anguish.% This is the gist of Yehuda’
 s
 presentation to Yosef. Then the Torah records that Yosef can not hold back anymore and he finally re#eals his identity to his brothers. Yosef says "
 Ani Yosef, Ha’od Avi Chai
&%' () am Yosef is my father still ali#e&’ *b#iously this opening +uestion of Yosef is difficult. How could Yosef possibly ask whether Yaako# is ali#e& He knows that Yaako# is ali#e. That was the whole point of Yehuda’s speech, that if Binyomin was not returned then the old father at home Yaako# might die. Hasn’t Yosef been listening to Yehuda’s
 
whole speech&- How could he ask this +uestion&There are se#eral approaches to answer this +uestion. The simplest answer is that of the li Yakar and others. The li Yakar writes that Yosef was concerned that maybe Yehuda was
lying.
Yosef was concerned that maybe Yaako# had actually died a long time ago and maybe Yehuda was trying to con#ince the Prime Minister to gi#e back Binyomin. Yosef thought that maybe Yehuda falsely claimed that Yaako# was still ali#e in order to seek mercy from the Prime Minister so that he would return Binyomin to Yehuda. !ccording to this approach Yosef was saying ") am Yosef is my father
really
ali#e&% That is one good
 pshat 
.There is also another
 pshat,
 gi#en by the Beis Hale#i. The Beis Hale#i
 
first presents another +uestion. He +uotes a
midrash
 which compares the brothers’ reaction to Yosef to the reaction of the
neshama
 to Hashem on the
 yom
 
hadin
. /ust like the brothers could not respond to Yosef  because they were so stunned by his comments so too a person will ha#e a hard time answering Hashem on the
 yom
 
hadin
. The Beis Hale#i asks what e0actly is the connection between what Yosef says to his brothers and the
 yom
 
hadin
& !pparently this
midrash
is assuming Yosef was gi#ing his brothers
mussar 
' rebuke. !nd this rebuke is somehow similar to the rebuke from Hashem on the
 yom hadin
. 1o the Beis Hale#i wonders where e0actly is the rebuke& $here is this
mussar 
 hinted to in the
 pesukim
& !ll Yosef did was ask a straightforward +uestion-
 
The Beis Hale#i e0plains that the two +uestions answer each other as follows. Yosef 
 
knew that Yaako# was still ali#e. He had heard and belie#ed Yehuda’s
 
speech. Yosef was not asking a +uestion in order to gain knowledge from Yehuda’s response. 2ather Yosef was asking a
rhetorical 
 +uestion and this rhetorical +uestion contained tremendous
mussar 
 and rebuke for Yehuda and the brothers.
 
The Beis Hale#i continues to e0plain that Yosef was pointing out an inconsistency in the words and actions of his brothers. Yosef was in essence saying to Yehuda
 
as follows, Yehuda
 ,
 you are so concerned about the welfare of our father that if Binyomin is not returned he might die from the anguish. $hy& Because Binyomin is the most belo#ed son. Yehuda e#erything that you said about Yaako# and Binyomin applied e0actly the same way concerning our father and
me
 33 years ago. ) was the most fa#ored son4 ) was the son of his most belo#ed wife. )f you are so concerned about the welfare of our father then where were you 33 years ago Yehuda&&Yosef was in essence saying to Yehuda,
 Ha'od abvi chai?
)s it possible that our father is still ali#e after what you did to me 33 years ago Yehuda& This is the message that Yosef was saying to Yehuda. Yosef was gi#ing him tremendous
mussar 
 and he had no response. Yehuda could not answer because Yosef was using Yehuda’s
on
 words and actions against him. This is the most difficult rebuke that a person can recei#e. There is no answer. The Beis Hale#i e0plains the connection of Yosef’s +uestion to the
 yom
 
hadin
. *n the
 yom
 
hadin
the most difficult claim that Hashem will make which a person will ha#e difficult responding to is the claim of hypocrisy the claim of inconsistency. The Beis Hale#i
 
offers the following e0ample. ! person comes up to
 shamayim
 and Hashem says ") noticed that you did not gi#e #ery much
t!edakah
 in your lifetime.%!nd the person responds ") had a large family and a lot of bills to pay ) did not ha#e enough money to gi#e
t!edakah
.% Hashem responds

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