ויקם יעקב מבאר שבע וישאו בני ישראל את יעקב אביהם ואת טפם
ואת נשיהם בעגלות אשר שלח פרעה לשאת אותו (46:5)
On Yaakov’s journey with his family from Beer-Sheva to
The Maharil Diskin beautifully explains that initially, although Yaakov set out on the journey, he still remained in doubt about whether he would continue to
Therefore, Yaakov wouldn’t allow himself to benefit from the wagons that had been sent to him by Pharaoh for the express purpose of escorting him on his journey to
In Beer-Sheva, however, Hashem came to Yaakov in a night vision and reassured him regarding the trip, promising to establish his descendants as a great nation in
אלה בני לאה אשר ילדה ליעקב בפדן ארם ואת דינה בתו כל נפש בניו ובנותיו שלשים ושלש (46:15)
ובפרטן אי אתה מוצא אלא ל"ב אלא זו יוכבד שנולדה בין החומות בכניסתן לעיר
שנא' אשר ילדה אותה ללוי במצרים לידתה במצרים ואין הורתה במצרים (רש"י)
The Torah lists the 70 people who descended to
The Torah emphasizes (41:50) that Yosef bore two sons, Menashe and Ephraim, before the years of famine began. Rashi quotes the Gemora in Taanis (11a), which derives from this seemingly extraneous information that it is forbidden to engage in marital relations during a time of famine. Tosefos in Taanis questions how this can be reconciled with Rashi’s comment that Levi’s daughter Yocheved was born just as Yaakov and his family arrived in
The Daas Z’keinim gives a fascinating answer. The Gemora in Taanis (11a) rules that a person who hasn’t yet fulfilled his obligation to have children is permitted to have marital relations even during a time of famine. However, there is a dispute between Beis Hillel and Beis Shammai (Yevamos 61b) regarding the fulfillment of this obligation. Beis Hillel is of the opinion that the requirement is to have at least one son and one daughter, while Beis Shammai requires two males.
The Daas Z’keinim suggests that this dispute actually began centuries earlier, as Yosef and Levi themselves disagreed about this very issue! Yosef agreed with the opinion of Beis Shammai and maintained that after giving birth to two sons he had fulfilled the mitzvah and was forbidden to have relations during the famine. Levi, on the other hand, agreed with Beis Hillel. Because he hadn’t yet given birth to a daughter, he was of the opinion that he was permitted to continue engaging in relations until he had a daughter and completed his fulfillment of the mitzvah, and as a result, his daughter Yocheved was born just as they reached the walls of
ואת יהודה שלח לפניו אל יוסף להורות לפניו גשנה (46:28)
לתקן לו בית תלמוד שמשם תצא הוראה (רש"י)
After a tumultuous roller-coaster of events, Yaakov’s sons returned to Canaan and informed him that his beloved son Yosef, whom he had assumed was dead for 22 years, was in fact alive and prospering in
As they drew near to the section of
The Shelah HaKadosh derives from Yaakov’s actions and priorities that wherever a person goes, he should first ensure that his spiritual needs are in place and afterward attend to his more mundane concerns. Although Yaakov clearly had a number of important tasks to attend to on his momentous journey, the Torah records his focus on establishing a house of study prior to his arrival to show us his true priorities so that we may learn from them.
Rav Moshe Feinstein writes that the biggest mistake made by the early immigrants to
Now that we understand the value of taking spiritual considerations into account when making life decisions, we can appreciate the following anecdote. The Stropkover Rebbe was once purchasing an apartment and narrowed the choices down to two. Each of them had various aesthetic and practical pros and cons, and it was difficult to decide which of them was superior. Ultimately, he chose the apartment which had exactly 26 steps (the numerical value of Hashem’s Name) ascending to it, as that would allow him to remember Hashem every time that he entered or exited his home.
Although the level of spiritual sensitivity depicted in this story is clearly beyond us, its lesson is still applicable. We all make daily decisions concerning our homes, our jobs, and our families. When evaluating the different options, we should learn from Yaakov the importance of trying to view the world through a more spiritual lens and taking that perspective into account when making our decisions.
למה נמות לעיניך גם אנחנו גם אדמתנו קנה אתנו ואת אדמתנו בלחם
ונהיה אנחנו ואדמתנו עבדים לפרעה (47:19)
After the seven years of plenty ended, a severe famine began, just as Yosef had predicted. Yosef was prepared for the famine, as he had stored up grain during the previous seven years for this purpose. When the Egyptians approached Yosef for food, he sold it to them until all of the money in the
Why wasn’t Yosef, as the leader of
Rav Chaim Kanievsky suggests that when the time would come for Hashem to smite the Egyptian people with the ten plagues, Yosef didn’t want them to be able to argue that as private citizens who weren’t interested in the enslavement of the Jewish people, they should be exempt from the punishment which should be exclusively meted out to Pharaoh. However, now that they, their land, and their animals were all part of Pharaoh’s national treasury, they had no such claim, since anything that happened to them was all part of the punishment coming to Pharaoh.
Alternatively, the Gemora in Sanhedrin (91a) records that many generations later, the Egyptians “sued” the Jewish people for the return of the gold and silver vessels that our ancestors “borrowed” on their way out of Egypt but never returned (Shemos 12:35-36). The Jews answered that when the Egyptians pay the wages for the 600,000 Jews who worked for them for 210 years, they will gladly return the vessels. The Egyptians had no response to this argument and fled the courtroom.
The Meshech Chochmah points out that while the Jewish people borrowed these vessels from the private Egyptian citizens, their wages were owed only by Pharaoh for the work that they performed for him (Shemos 1:11). Therefore, Yosef acquired everything in
Parsha Points to Ponder (and sources which discuss them):
1) Rashi (45:12) writes that Yosef proved his true identity to his brothers by virtue of the facts that he spoke their language and was circumcised as they were. As Yosef himself instituted a law requiring all Egyptians to be circumcised to obtain food from the royal storehouses (Rashi 41:55), what proof did his circumcision provide? (Gur Aryeh, Paneiach Raza, Mishneh L’Melech Hilchos Melochim 10:7, Taima D’Kra Hosafos, Chavatzeles HaSharon, Matamei Yaakov)
2) The news that the 10 men who had been accused of being spies were in reality Yosef’s brothers was pleasing to Pharaoh and his servants (45:16). Why weren’t they confused about Yosef’s cruel initial treatment of his brothers and refusal to identify himself to them, and why didn’t they demand an explanation for the apparently inexplicable games and tricks he played with them?
3) Prior to sending his brothers back to Yaakov, Yosef warned them (45:24) not to become agitated on the journey. Rashi explains that Yosef was advising them not to travel too quickly by taking large steps, as the Gemora in Taanis (10b) teaches that doing so causes a person to lose 1/500th of his eyesight. How big of a step is considered too large? (Mishnah Berurah 301:3)
4) Upon hearing from the brothers that Yosef was still alive and was a ruler in
5) Rashi writes (37:35) that Hashem guaranteed Yaakov that if none of his children died during his lifetime, he wouldn’t have to spend one moment in Gehinnom. Therefore, when he perceived that Yosef had been killed, in addition to the pain over the loss of his son, he also worried about the personal implications. Rashi writes (46:26) that the twin sisters who were born with each of Yaakov’s sons aren’t included in the count of 70 people who descended to
6) As he drew near to the
7) During the 2nd year of the famine, Yosef acquired all of the
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