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ובני בנימין בלע, ובכר ... חופים וארד

Binyamin’s sons: Bela, Becher…Chuppim and Ard. (46:21)

The names that Binyamin gave his sons were unique in the sense that each name in some way alluded to Yosef and the troubles that he had encountered. Chazal (Sotah 36b) elaborate upon the meaning of each name. It demonstrates to us how overcome with grief Binyamin was over the loss of his only brother (from the same mother, Rachel Imeinu). Of particular interest is the name Chuppim, which he gave “because he (Yosef) did not see my chupah, marriage canopy, and I did not see his chupah.” The lesson to be derived from here, comments the Ponovezher Rav, zl,…

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ויפול על צוארי בנימן אחיו ובנימן בכה על צואריו

Then he fell upon his brother Binyamin’s neck and wept; and Binyamin wept upon his neck. (45:14)

Chazal (quoted by Rashi) comment that Yosef and Binyamin wept over the destruction of the Sanctuaries that would be burnt in their respective territories: the two Batei Mikdash that would stand in Binyamin’s portion of Eretz Yisrael, and Mishkan Shiloh in the portion of Yosef’s son, Ephraim. The question is obvious: Why weep over the destruction of the other’s territory? What about his own personal loss? Yosef should have wept over the Mishkan, and Binyamin should have poured out his emotion over the Batei Mikdash. The question came up during the emotional meeting between two Admorim, Chassidic leaders, who, albeit…

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ולא יכלו אחיו לענות אותו כי נבהלו מפניו

But his brothers could not answer him, because they were left disconcerted before him. (45:3)

Rashi explains that the brothers were overwhelmed with shame. The humiliation of confronting Yosef after all these years, facing the error of their original decision, was too much. It agitated them to know that before them stood Yosef. It brought dread to their minds, and prompted their anxiety: “What is going to happen now?” All of this is understandable. Fear is an acceptable reaction at such a time, but shame? Why should shame take center stage over fear? Indeed, at the end of Parashas Va’yechi (50:15) when the brothers acknowledged that now that Yaakov Avinu had left this world, and…

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ויאמר יוסף אל אחיו אני יוסף העוד אבי חי ... ויאמר יוסף אל אחיו גשו נא אלי ... ויאמר אני יוסף אחיכם אשר מכרתם אותי מצרימה

And Yosef said to his brothers, “I am Yosef. Is my father still alive?” … The Yosef said to his brothers, “Come close to me, if you please,” and he said, “I am Yosef, your brother… me, whom you sold to Egypt.” (45:3,4)

Anyone who reads these pesukim is struck with the same questions: Why did Yosef repeat, “I am Yosef”? He stated in pasuk 3, “I am Yosef,” and immediately in pasuk 4, he repeated, “I am Yosef.” Furthermore, the first time that he “introduced” himself, his brothers’ reaction was one of fear and disconcertment. Why in his second “introduction” did he reiterate, “Whom you sold to Egypt”? Obviously, this was a sore point, as their reaction evinces. Why rub it in? The Sfas Emes offers a powerful explanation which teaches us an important lesson in avodas Hashem, serving the Almighty. When…

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ויתן את קלו בבכי וישמעו מצרים וישמע בית פרעה

He cried in a loud voice. Egypt heard and Pharaoh’s household heard. (45:2)

When Yosef wept, the entire country heard; so respected was he in Egypt. Word quickly spread throughout the palace and then throughout the country: Yosef was weeping! Chazal (Bereishis Rabbah) state that Yosef’s cries were conciliatory in nature, meant to assuage his brothers’ feelings of guilt and shame. Why was he appeasing them? He was the victim. They were the “aggressors.” It should be the other way around. Horav Yeruchem Levovitz, zl (cited by Bad Kodesh), posits that herein lies an important concept concerning interpersonal relationships. Just as the “Shulchan Aruch,” Code of Law, addresses the rights of the victim…

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ימי שני מגורי שלשים ומאת שנה מעט ורעים היו ימי שני חיי

The years of my dwelling are 130; few and terrible were the years of my life. (47:9)

Our Patriarch, Yaakov Avinu, stood before Pharaoh, and, when asked his age, Yaakov replied, “The years of my dwelling are 130; few and terrible were the years of my life.” What provoked Yaakov to add that his life was short and miserable? Why not just answer the question? How old are you? 130 – end of conversation. Obviously, Yaakov felt that simply stating his age was insufficient. It was necessary to explain the kind of life he had endured. Why? Horav Shlomo Wolbe, zl, distinguishes between “dwelling” in the world and “living” in it – or between mere existing and…

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ואת יהודה שלח לפניו אל יוסף להורות לפניו גשנה

He sent Yehudah ahead of him to Yosef, to prepare ahead of him in Goshen. (46:28)

Chazal interpret, L’horos lefanav, “To prepare ahead of him,” with the word l’horos being derived from the word horaah: to teach, to decide halachah. Yehudah was sent to establish a bais horaah she’mishom teitzei Torah, a house of learning, a yeshivah, from which the Torah would emanate. Yehudah was the first Rosh Yeshivah. The question is obvious. Yehudah was the melech, king, monarch of the brothers. True, he was quite proficient erudite, and was undoubtedly a scholar, but Torah erudition and dissemination were not his primary vocations. He was occupied with malchus, kingship. The commentators, each in his inimitable manner,…

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ועתה אל תעצבו ואל יחר בעיניכם כי מכרתם אותי הנה כי למחיה שלחני אלקים לפניכם

And now, neither be distressed, nor reproach yourselves for having sold me here, for it was to be a provider that G-d sent me ahead of you.” (45:5)

Yosef appeases his brothers, explaining to them that they were all part of a Divine Plan, in order to have him precede them to Egypt. By “trailblazing” the Egyptian exile which Klal Yisrael was destined to experience, Yosef was able to mitigate their and their descendants’ ordeal to some extent. Yosef was addressing his brothers, but it is a worthy lesson that is applicable to – and should be reviewed over and over by – us all. Hashem controls and guides the world. He has a Divine Plan in which we all have a role. We must be patient and…

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ויאמר יוסף אל אחיו אני יוסף העוד אבי חי ולא יכלו אחיו לענות אתו כי נבהלו מפניו

And Yosef said to his brothers, “I am Yosef, is my father still alive? But his brothers could not answer him, because they were left disconcerted before him. (45:3)

Yosef finally reveals himself to his brothers, and, in the space of a few moments, G-d’s master plan became evident to all. All of the questions, pain and challenges that had transpired and that they had experienced became clear to them. Twenty-two years of ambiguity had been lifted from their eyes. Yosef asked, “Is my father still alive?” This question begs elucidation. How many times must they repeat to him that their elderly father was still alive and living at home? The Kli Yakar explains that Yosef thought that they might have mentioned an elderly father who was inexorably attached…

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ולא יכלו אחיו לענות אתו כי נבהלו מפניו

But his brothers could not answer him because they were left disconcerted before him. (45:3)

  The Midrash notes the difficulty individuals experience in accepting rebuke. Bilaam ha’rasha, the evil pagan-prophet, could not stand up to the criticism of his donkey. The Shivtei Kah, the sons of Yaakov Avinu, were overwhelmed with fear when Yosef merely uttered the two words: Ani Yosef, “I am Yosef.” Imagine, says Abba Kohen Bardela, when we come before the Heavenly Tribunal and each and every one of us will be rebuked lfi mah she’hu, according to what he is, (or what he could have been). How will we stand up to this Heavenly remonstrance? In the Talmud Berachos 4b,…

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