Friday, December 19, 2008

Parshas Vayeishev - Q & A

1)Why does the Torah use the root SHAV (VAYEISHEV) to describe Yaakov living and GUR (MEGUREI) to describe his father living? (37:1)

2)Reuven never told his brothers that his plan was to rescue Yosef from the pit. What, then, could Reuven have meant when he discovered that Yosef was missing and he proclaimed, AND I, WHERE WILL I GO? (37:30)

3)Why does the Torah interrupt the narrative about Yosef with a seemingly unrelated story, specifically about Yehuda? (chapter 38)


1)The Kli Yakar explains that SHAV refers to a more permanent dwelling while GUR is more temporary. Yitzchak viewed his dwelling in this world as completely temporary and he never felt at home in this world. Yaakov's mistake was desiring a more permanent and comfortable dwelling in this world as captured by the use of SHAV and this led G-D to bring him struggles and challenges which eventually uprooted him and forced him to live in a more temporary manner.

2)The Ohr HaChayim answers that Reuven was saying that now that Yosef is gone, he, as the first born would be asked by Yaakov to search the world for Yosef. Had Yosef been killed by an animal in the pit as appeared to the brothers to be Reuven's plan, then they could simply bring the dead body to Yaakov. But now that Yosef is missing, Reuven asks, WHERE WILL I GO in the search which Yaakov will demand of me? This is why Reuven was pacified with the plan to dip Yosef's coat into the blood which would stop Yaakov from asking for a search.

3)The Seforno teaches that Yehuda, as a leader of the tribes, could have saved Yosef by convincing the brothers to simply return him to Yaakov. Instead, Yehuda led the brothers in the selling of Yosef into slavery thereby causing Yaakov years of grief and sorrow with Yosef missing. G-D punished Yehuda immediately for this and two of his sons die in this chapter. Thus, this interruption in the story shows G-D's attribute of justice at work.

*Courtesy of Rabbi Dov Lipman Shlit"a
*Picture from

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