Parshas VaYeshev

Parshas VaYeshev

ב) אֵלֶּה תֹּלְדוֹת יַעֲקֹב יוֹסֵף בֶּן שְׁבַע עֶשְׂרֵה שָׁנָה הָיָה רֹעֶה אֶת אֶחָיו בַּצֹּאן וְהוּא נַעַר אֶת בְּנֵי בִלְהָה וְאֶת בְּנֵי זִלְפָּה נְשֵׁי אָבִיו וַיָּבֵא יוֹסֵף אֶת דִּבָּתָם רָעָה אֶל אֲבִיהֶם: -בראשית לז/ב

It is written in the parsha, “These are the chronicles of Yaakov… And Yosef brought the evil reports of them (of his brothers) to their father.

Rashi explains,”THEIR EVIL REPORTS- Whatever he saw wrong in his brothers, the sons of Leah, he reported to his father: that they used to eat flesh cut off from a living animal, that they treated the sons of the handmaids with contempt, calling them slaves, and that they were suspected of living in an immoral manner.

Hashem punished him for these three things in a way that was similar to what he said.

For his saying that they used to eat flesh cut off from a living animal; when they sold him, they slaughtered a goat and they did not eat its flesh while the animal was still living. For his relating to their father that they called their brothers slaves; (Tehilim 105/17) “Yosef was sold for a slave.” For his accusing them with immoral behavior (Braishis 39/7) “his master’s wife cast her eyes upon him etc.” ”

Zera Shimshon asks that it is easy to understand how Yosef’s being sold as a slave and his having to go through the test of Potiferra’s wife are considered to be a punishment for slandering them to his father. But, how is slaughtering and eating a goat a punishment for his blaming them for eating flesh from a living animal? How is it at all connected to him?

Secondly, why did they slaughter the goat to dip his garment in blood? Cows and most animals have much more blood than a goat has, so a much better choice would have been to slaughter some other animal (ref. to Aitz Yosef on the Medrash Rabbah)

Thirdly, Zera Bairech writes that the malach who watches over Mitzrayim holds a goat in his right hand to constantly remind Hashem the sin of selling Yosef. Zera Shimshon asks why did this malach choose specifically a goat as a reminder of the selling? Seemingly the slaughtering of the goat has no intrinsic connection to the sin but was only something needed in order to cover up what they did!

Zera Shimshon’s answer is based on two premises.

1. Eisav will eventually fall into the hands of the descendants of Yosef and not in the hands of the descendants of the other brothers like it is written (Ovadiah 1/18) “And the house of Yaakov shall be a fire, and the house of Yaakov a flame and the house of Eisav for stubble“.

2. The Medrash (Breishis Rabah 65/15) says that a goat symbolizes Eisav (goat in Hebrew is “Seir” and in Parshas Toldos (27/11)  Yaakov refered to Eisav as “Eish Seir”.

According to these two premises Zera Shimshon explains that Yosef would boast to his brothers that if it wouldn’t be for him then the other brothers would never be able to free themselves from Eisav. They would be under his control forever.

The brothers strongly disagreed and therefore right when they sold him they slaughtered a goat (which symbolizes Eisav) in front of Yosef to show him that he made a big mistake. They wanted to explain to him that they are able to overcome Eisav, even without his help, through the doing of the mitzvos (like slaughtering and animal in order to eat it). That just like through the mitzvo of slaughtering one kills the goat so to when we do other mitzvos we overcome Eisav!

This is also the reason that the malach of Mitzrayim holds a goat in his hand. It is as if to say that surely mitzvos have the power to weaken Eisav. That, however ,was only in the days of the Avos. However, after they passed away and we don’t so many merits as before, Eisav should control us!

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וַיֵּשֶׁב יַעֲקֹב בְּאֶרֶץ מְגוּרֵי אָבִיו בְּאֶרֶץ כְּנָעַן:-בראשית לז/א

And Yaakov dwelled in the land of his forefathers. (Breishis 37/1)

On this possuk the Midrash comments, “And Yaakov dwelled”- It is written (in Yeshiya), ‘When you cry (to Hashem) your assembly will save you’-  the Rabbis learned, ‘your assembly and your children’s assembly saved you from the hands of Eisav’ …”

In other words, it was the merit of Yaakov and the merit of his children that saved them from Eisav.

Zera Shimshon asks why does the Medrash mention the merit of his children. Why wasn’t his merits enough?

He answers in light of the Medrash (Yalkut Shimoni Shoftim remez 51) that says that Eisav will fall in the hands of Rachel’s children (Yosef and Binyamin) and not in the hands of the children of the other brothers. There are two reasons for this. Firstly, so that when they come to kill Eisav, he will not be able to persuade them that they have no right to kill him because they are no better than him. Just like he tried to kill his brother (Yaakov) so too they tried to kill their brother (Yosef). And secondly, Eisav can argue that he doesn’t deserve to be killed. He had a good reason to chase after Yaakov because Yaakov stole his birthright and the blessings that were meant for him. These arguments, however, are powerless against Yosef. He never tried to kill his brothers and even though that his brothers tried to harm him, he didn’t seek revenge.

There is, however, one argument that Eisav can use against Yosef; why doesn’t he have mercy on him like he had on his brothers?

In truth this argument is also weak because the brothers regretted that they planned to kill him. When Yehuda suggested that they sell him into slavery instead of killing they agreed with him. On the other hand, even after we are sold to Eisav as slaves he continues to persecute us.

According to this, concludes Zera Shimshon, we can now understand the reason that the Medrash mentions that we were saved from Eisav also in the merit of Yaakov’s children. It is to teach us that ALL the brothers were tzaddikim. We are saved not only in the merit of Yosef who never tried to take revenge and harm his brothers but also in the merit of the other brothers who although initially they wanted to kill Yosef they eventually regretted their decision.
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וַיֵּשֶׁב יַעֲקֹב בְּאֶרֶץ מְגוּרֵי אָבִיו בְּאֶרֶץ כְּנָעַן:-בראשית לז/א

And Yaakov dwelled in the land of his forefathers. (Breishis 37/1)

On this possuk the Midrash comments, “And Yaakov dwelled “: It is written (in the prophet Yeshiya), ‘When you cry (to Hashem) your gathering will save you’-  the Rabbis learned, ‘your gathering and the your children’s gathering saved you from the hands of Eisav’ … (the posuk in Yeshiya concludes) ‘and those who trust in me will inherit the land’- this is refering to Yaakov (like it says) ‘And Yaakov dwelled’.”

In other words, in the merit that Yaakov and his children stayed together and didn’t run away from Eisav and met him and his troops, Yaakov and his sons were saved from Eisav’s violent plans and inherited the Land .

Zera Shimshon asks where did Chazal see that it was the fact that Yaakov and his children stayed together caused them to be saved from Eisav.

Secondly, he asks, where do we find that Yaakov had trust in Hashem to such a degree that the Midrash concludes “and those who trust in M. will inherit the land”?

He explains that normaly people run away from someone who wants to harm them. Why then did Yaakov “look for trouble” and meet with Eisav.

Even more difficult to understand is why did the children of Yaakov also “stick around” and not run away or hide?

For instance, Chazal (Megila 16/a) teach us that when Mordechai would meet Haman he commanded all of his talmidim to run away so that Haman would not harm them. Why then did the children of Yaakov not only not run away from Eisav but drew close to greet him?

The answer is that they had tremendous trust, bitachon,  in Hashem and therefore were not at all afraid of Eisav. They therefore felt no need to run away from him. (And even though it says that Yaakov was VERY afraid, this doesn’t mean that his fear took away from his bitachon in Hashem. Rather he used this fear to strengthen his trust in Hashem.)

This is meaning of the Midrash; that in the merit of their bitachon, which manifested itself by assembling and not running away, they were saved from the hands of Eisav.

A proof to this idea that having bitachon can save one from his enemies is found in the Gemorro (Menochos 29/b) Whoever puts his trust in Hashem, will have shelter in this world and in the World To Come.
Dvar Torah

HaRav Shimshon Nachmaini, author of Zera Shimshon lived in Italy about 300 years ago in the time of the Or HaChaim HaKodesh.

The Chida writes that he was a great Mekubal and wrote many sefarim including sefarim about practical kabbolo but asked that all of his sefarim be buried after he passes away except for Zera Shimshon and Niflaos Shimshon on Avos.

He had one child who died in his lifetime (hence the name Zera Shimshon) and in the preface he promises for people who learn his sefarim after he dies ... And your eyes will see children and grandchildren like the offshoots of an olive tree around your tables, wise and understanding with houses filled with all manner of good things... and wealth and honor......

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