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Volume XVII, Issue 2

The Weekly Torah Publication of the Yeshiva University High School for Boys

21 Kislev 5772 ◊ December 17, 2011

WHY ADD SALT TO AN OPEN WOUND? WtÇ| ^âÜàé After Yosef told his brothers the first dream that he had, the pasuk says, “…And they increased even more to hate him – because of his dreams and because of his words.” (Bereishis 37:8). Yet despite this hatred from the brothers, in the next pasuk Yosef says, “…Look, I dreamt another dream: Behold! The sun, and the moon, and eleven stars were bowing down to me.” (ibid, 9). The Ner Uziel states that Yosef must have been aware that his first dream was not appreciated by his brothers; which begs the question as to why would Yosef “add salt to an open wound,” and tell his brothers this second dream of his personal grandeur?

Yaakov realized all along that ———— Yosef’s dream foretold the future, ‫וישב‬ but he just wanted to keep the Vayeishev brothers calm, so he “dismissed” it. However, Rashi quotes the ———— Bereishis Rabbah that says that Yaakov did not know that the moon represented Bilhah who raised Yosef as if she was his mother. To further complicate the matter, Rashi quotes the Gemara in Berachos (55b) which says that every true dream contains some false elements. To prove this the Chachamim use the true dream of Yosef, saying that the moon representing his mother was the “false” element. But this was clearly stated before that the moon actually represented Bilhah – so it could not have been the false element? The Chachamim in Berachos (55a) explain that there are three kinds of dreams: 1) the common dreams that just reflect one’s thoughts of that day; 2) the ones that portend parts of the future which always contain false elements; 3) and prophetic visions which are completely true. Yosef’s dream was of the third type – a true prophecy. It is fulfilled when Yaakov and his entire family, including Bilhah who raised Yosef like her own child, go down to Mitzrayim and bow before Yosef. Now, one can understand why the brothers became jealous, and why Yaakov “pondered” the dream. They all thought it was real, but because Yaakov realized that the brothers were getting jealous, he dismissed it as nonsense. In reality, Yaakov never thought that it was not true. But the original question still remains – if Yosef knew that his first dream bothered his brothers tremendously, why did he tell them the second one. The answer is quite simply because his dream was a prophecy, and the Torah says that any prophet that does not publicize his visions deserves the punishment of misa (death) by G-d, and that Yosef was just trying to fulfill the word of Hashem.

In addition to the brother’s reaction, Yaakov has a very interesting reaction as well. It appears that Yaakov is totally discrediting the dream when he says, “…What is this dream which you have dreamt? Are we to come – I and your mother and your brothers – to bow down to you to the ground?” (ibid, 10). In other words Yaakov rhetorically asks Yosef, “What are you saying?! You know that your mother Rachel is dead – do you expect her to come from her grave to bow down to you?” In the very next pasuk, the Torah states, “(So) his brothers became jealous of him, but his father pondered/ waited for the matter.” (ibid, 11). However, these reactions seem completely different than the ones that happened in the previous pesukim. Why did the brothers become jealous, if anything they should have had a good laugh at this nonsense? Also, what happened to Yaakov’s immediate dismissal of the dream? One would think that he would let it go and return to his daily work, but now he is giving much thought to the dream. Again the Ner Uziel asks why the Torah put such conflicting evaluations on this dream? Many may try to solve the contradiction by saying that

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Volume XVII, Issue 2

One can learn from this that in our own lives Hashem may give us a “wound”(or cause someone to give us a “wound”), and then another “wound” on top of it, and we must realize that this wound is not just because Hashem wanted to harm us but He is trying to teach us something – that just like Yosef who told both dreams to his brothers just in order to follow the Torah, although it caused his brothers to hate him – we may also need a “wound” here and there to remind us that the Torah exists and that we must always remember who we are standing before.

they saw nothing other than his normal thoughts of ruling his brothers being manifested in a dream. Nothing was out of place, so they hated him for telling them. The second dream was different. In it, there was the moon, which was representative of Rachel. Rachel had already passed away, and thus the dream could only partially be fulfilled (as the Gemara in Berachos learns in general about prophecy from this very dream!) The moon could not have been part of Yosef’s mundane thoughts. It was a davar batel. Clearly, this was something divine. This was nevuah. The brothers wouldn’t dare to hate Yosef for a prophecy! This time they were just jealous, because they realized the level to which he would rise over them.

This explanation not only answers our questions; it also teaches us a lesson in introspection. It is not easy to differentiate between all the messages that Hashem gives us. We are constantly facing new situations which are clearly meant to get us to think or to be aware. How can we know when the message is clearly divine and when it is commonplace? Yosef’s dreams now teach us that it is our job in life to analyze everything. All situations, like dreams, have devarim betelim in them, meant to confuse us. We must remove them like the chaff from the wheat, because every situation has a message from Hashem in it. The Gra asks the obvious question: why did they hate him We just have to find it amongst our own ideas. for the first dream, and then became jealous for the second dream? May we all be zoche to see Hashem in every aspect of our lives, and may Hashem remove the devarim betelim from The Gra answers that there are two kinds of dreams a our world. person can have: a) a divine dream with a message from Hashem, about which chazal say “A dream is one-sixtieth of nevuah” (Brachos 57), or b) a dream simply stemming YOSEF’S “EVIL REPORT” from one’s thoughts during the day. The dreamer usually knows if the dream is ordinary or unusual and divine. Tä| fxuutz However, those hearing about the dream cannot know whether it was out of the ordinary, since “just as it is im- The pasuk says that Yosef told evil reports to his father possible to have wheat without chaff in it, it is impossible Yaakov. Rashi tells us the simple pshat of the pasuk; that to have a [meaningful] dream without nonsense (devarim Yosef said that his brothers did 3 things. One, they ate betelim) in it” (ibid. 55a). Aver min hachai – meat taken from an animal before it was Therefore, when Yosef’s brothers heard his first dream, slaughtered. Two, the sons of Leah made fun of the B’nei Sh’fachot - sons of the maidservants, by calling them servants; and three, they behaved licentiously. The punishQues ons? Comments? ment for Yosef was measure for measure. For the first one, when he was sold into slavery, his brothers schechted Email: an animal to use its blood to fool Yaakov, as a punishment for slandering his brothers regarding Aver min hachai. SecComplaints? ondly, as punishment for saying his brothers called the B’nei Sh’fachot slaves, he was sold into slavery. And thirdEmail: Avi.lent In this week’s sedrah, Yosef has a series of prophetic dreams. The first two of these dreams emphasize Yosef’s future reign over his brothers. The first dream features sheaves of wheat bowing down to Yosef’s upright sheaf. After Yosef relates that dream, the pasuk says “they hated him”. In the second dream, the sun, moon, and eleven stars are bowing down to Yosef. After he relates this second dream to his family, the pasuk says “they were jealous of him”.

Volume XVII, Issue 2

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ly, he was accused by Potiphar’s wife as punishment for his claims on his brothers’ promiscuity. But how did Chazal find this out? And what was the real nature of the evil reports? R’ Eliyahu Mizrachi answers that Chazal got it from a Gzeirah Shavah- A similarity between words and phrases in 2 different pesukim. The word Ra’ah is used in the Pasuk in reference to the evil reports, but is also used in pesukim about Potiphar’s wife, Yosef in slavery, and eating non-kosher meat.

MITZVAS YIBUM ^Éux ^t{Ç Following the sale of Yosef, Yehuda bears three sons: Eir, Onan, and Sheilah. Eir dies at an early age, leaving his widow, Tamar. Following his death, Yehuda commands Onan to be miyabeim his sister-in-law in order to uphold his brother’s name.

This is the first appearance of the mitzvah of yibum—the The Maharal rejects this explanation, for a couple reasons. obligation for the brother of the deceased to bear children Firstly because there is a general principle by Gzeirah from his brother’s wife in order to uphold his name withShavah that it must be Moshe m’sinai. Also Ra’ah is used by in klal Yisrael. many other things not just these four places so it can’t be. The Ramban addresses the purpose of this mitzvah and The Or HaChayim says that Chazal interpreted it straight writes that before matan Torah, yibum was often done from the pesukim, they didn’t cut corners. The pasuk says for any close family member, not specifically one’s brothYosef always saw his brothers “with the flock” that hints to er. It was considered an honor to the deceased and was an the evil report about Aver min hachai. Another pasuk says act of tremendous chesed and kedusha. However, when “the wives of their father”, this hints at the fact that they took liberties with concubines, without regarding them as the Torah was given, detailed in parshas Acharei Mos were the numerous arayos, one of which is a sister-inlegal wives. law. By definition, this should have ended the historical However, this explanation is difficult to understand, be- practice of yibum. However, in order to allow Bnai Yiscause there’s a Midrash that says “they looked at the rael to continue this holy practice, Hashem presented the daughters of Canaan”. What does this have to do with their mitzvah of yibum in Parshas Ki– Seitzei which serves as father’s wives? An answer is brought down from the an exception the genral rule of arayos. At the time that Breishit Rabbah, which deemed them as extra words, and he compared it to 2 other places where there is thought to one’s brother dies, his sister-in-law’s ervah is pushed be extra words. First it says by Yosef that he tended with aside and the act of yibum is permitted. his brothers “in the sheep”, these words are unnecessary, so are the words “his father’s wives” and “evil” from “evil This mitzvah is foreign to us nowadays (as we pasken like Abba Shaul that chalitza is preferable, see Yevamos 41b) report”. but the mitzvah represents the Torah’s emphasis on olam The midrash teaches us that its not superfluous. First that haba (afterlife) and that although htthe brother has died there was an evil report about the flock, the second says its one is still to uphold his name in this world. Additionally, concerned about the way Leah’s sons treated the children it represents the kedusha of Jewish family life and of our of “his father’s wives” and finally, you see the “evil” is a ability to be makdish even the most mundane of actions. reference to the daughters of Canaan, as we are told are This is an important idea in everyday life in all that we “evil”. This was the intent of Chazal in teaching us about do. The most mundane actions can be done lishem shathe nature of the “evil” reports. mayim and by doing so we will be able to create proper lives of avodas Hashem and yiras shamayim.

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Volume XVII, Issue 2

**** YU Contributor ****

the yetzer ha’rah instead of relying solely on our intellect.

The Gemara Sotah (11b) comments on the pasuk (Shemos 1:17) which says the meyaldos feared Hashem and did not give into Pharoh’s request. The basic understanding of this lÉáxy jx|ÇuxÜzxÜ pasuk is that they refused to kill the Jewish baby boys. R’ Yosi (Gemara Sotah ibid) derives from here that Pharoh When Yosef is down in Mitzrayim, he is tested time and was “tavan l’dvar aveirah, v’lo nit’bi’u”. Meaning, Pharoh time again by the relentless wife of Potifar. She wants summoned them to do an aveirah (znus) but they did not nothing more than to convince Yosef to give into his desires of immorality, which leaves Yosef facing the unimagi- submit to him. R’ Simcha Bunim of Pshischa explains “v’lo nit’bi’u” to mean that they were not even tempted to do it. nably difficult task. Yet, Yosef somehow finds the inner They never considered it. R’ Yosi’s praise of the meyaldos strength to restrain himself from giving in. The pasuk was not that they beat the yetzer ha’rah in this battle, but (39:8) records his response to her request as follows: “va’yima’em, va’yomer el eshes adonav…” at which point that they were driven by their yiras Hashem to preempt the he goes on to give an excuse as to why he cannot fulfill her battle altogether. plea. Rav Shorr connects this idea to Chanukah as well. We say The Sfas Emes explains that in this instance, Yosef’s refusal in Ma’oz Tzur that the Greeks were “partzu chomos migdolai”, which means that they breached the walls of the Beis to give into the wife of Potifar (and to give into his yetzer ha’rah) is not dependent on any sort of logical reasoning. It Hamikash. The Chiddushei Ha’Rim explains this line to is true that Yosef offers an excuse as to why he can’t com- mean that they attempted to break down the wall of yirah mit the aveirah, however, this is just to get the idea out of that every single Jew has towards Hashem. The Greeks her head. From Yosef’s perspective, the aveirah was never a wanted us to use nothing other than our intellect. The danconsideration. He derives this from the fact that the pasuk ger the Jews faced of being subject to the Greek wisdom was not just that their teachings were antithetical to the first says “va’yima’en” (he refused) and only then says Jewish beliefs, but the very fact that they preached wisdom “va’yomer” (he said). Meaning, the refusal came first, inalone as being sufficient. There was no concept of refraindependent of whatever reasoning he offered. ing from doing something based on yirah alone. In a similar vein, Rav Avraham Shorr (Ha’Lekach V’HaliWhile a true eved Hashem makes sure to think critically buv) points out that there is a psik (break) in-between the words “va’yima’en” and “va’yomer”. The psik tells the baal about the depths of Torah and delve into the meaning of the koreh to pause in-between these two words, which accen- mitzvos, one cannot always rely on his reasoning when he is being challenged by the yetzer ha’rah. There are times when tuates the idea that Yosef’s refusal was not dependent on we must listen to our conscience, not our brain, which tells his reasoning. us “this is (or is not) what I’m supposed to be doing now. The idea we can learn from here is that while a person’s No questions asked.” intellectual approach towards Torah and mitzvos is crucial for a wholesome life of avodas Hashem, one cannot always rely on his chachmah alone. When the yetzer ha’rah is Menahel: Rabbi Michael Taubes knocking on the door it is too risky to start contemplating what the proper action is. If someone is tempted to tell his Rabbinic Advisor: Rabbi Baruch Pesach Mendelson friend a secret that might be loshon ha’rah and then he starts debating to himself whether or not the story actually Distribution Coordinator: Binyamin Pfeiffer constitutes loshon ha’rah, chances are he can come up with Special Teams Coordinator: Philip Meyer an excuse to permit himself to go through with it. It is in Contributing Editor: Akiva Schiff this instance that he requires a real sense of yiras Hashem which will prevent him from even reaching the point of Editors-in-Chief: Meir Finkelstein, Yoni Schwartz this internal debate. The same way Yosef reacted with “va’yima’en”, a complete rejection of the yetzer ha’rah, we should also use our sense of yiras Hashem to combat