Parshat Miketz: Yosef and his Brothers Shiur by Menachem Leibtag Presentation by Ronni Libson
Story of Yosef and his brothers Problematic: • Yosef’s brothers plan to kill him for what appears to be petty jealousy • When Yosef rises to royalty in Egypt, not once does he attempt to contact his father
Yosef’s dreams: • “And behold we were gathering sheaves in the field, and my sheaf stood up and remained upright; then your sheaves gathered around and bowed down to my sheaf.” (37:7) • “And behold - the sun, the moon, and eleven stars were bowing down to me.” (37:9) Sense of superiority over family Similar to sibling rivalry between Yaakov and Esav Bracha Yitzchak gave to Yaakov: “May God bless you with ... an abundance of grain ... Be master over your brothers, and let your mother's sons bow down to you.” (27:28-29)
Add to this: • Yaakov's love and special treatment of Yosef (37:3) • Yosef’s "ktonet pasim" (special cloak), a sign of royalty • Yosef is the first son of Rachel, Yaakov's 'primary' wife • Yaakov's silence regarding Yosef's dreams (37:11) Brothers conclude: Yosef is the ‘chosen’ son
Brothers’ negative view of Yosef’s character: “And Yosef brought bad reports ('diba ra'ah') of his brothers to his father.”(37:2) Brothers recognized need for exemplary leadership for God’s Nation characterized by “tzedek u’mishpat” Yosef cannot be leader Predicament similar to Rivka: Rivka resorted to 'trickery' to ensure that the proper son would be blessed Brothers decide to use 'trickery' Goal:Remove Yosef from Divine family – “v'nireh mah yihyu chalomotav”
Yosef has a close relationship with father – “ben zkunim” Why doesn’t Yosef make any attempt at all to contact Yitzchak? Ramban: Yosef's actions were motivated by his aspiration to ensure the fulfillment of his dreams. Somehow, according to Ramban, Yosef understood that in order for the Divine plan to unfold, he must not contact his family. Abravanel: Yosef's entire strategy is an attempt to bring his brothers towards proper teshuva.
Problems with Ramban’s explanation: • It is unthinkable that Yosef would cause such suffering to his father simply because of a dream • “Pshat” of the parsha indicates that Yosef remembered his dreams only after the brothers came (42:9). During the approximately twenty years beforehand, his dreams seem to have been forgotten! Problems with Abravanel’s explanation: • Explains Yosef's behavior after his brothers arrived, but does not explain why Yosef did not contact his father before they arrived in Egypt!
Yosef’s view of the events: Yosef is sent by father to check on brothers Brothers take off his coat, throw him in pit, and sell him to slavery Yosef expects father (who loves him dearly) to investigate the matter when brothers come home and trace the sale Yosef doesn’t hear from father for months!! Yosef begins to wonder: • Does his father no longer care about him? • Why did the brothers throw him into the pit as soon as he arrived? • Why did his father send him out alone on such a long journey to see his brothers who hated him?
Yosef’s conclusion: • Yaakov received some divine decree that Yosef is rejected, and only Leah's children [and not Rachel's] had been ‘chosen’ (further support: Rachel’s premature death) • Perhaps father had actually sent him knowing that the brothers would sell him (instead of confronting Yosef directly with the terrible news of his 'rejection' from the family, Yaakov may have preferred that the brothers do the 'dirty work' for him) Another Possibility: • Yosef feels 'rejected' by his family (since brothers sold him) - May prefer to begin a new life, even if it means his father would miss him, rather than face returning to live with his brothers (understandable reaction for a seventeen year old)
Yosef has a master plan Attempt to find out what happened to Binyamin Binyamin didn’t come with brothers down to Egypt – supports suspicion that Bnei Rachel had been rejected If Binyamin was still alive, Yosef could ask him what “really” happened in family and then re-unite with family If Binyamin is not alive, Yosef won’t reveal himself
Yosef realizes dreams are coming true As leader, must re-unite the family with bond that is both physical and spiritual Had Yosef told the brothers right away, they would never be able to face him as their brother (after what they had done to him) and thus true family unity would not be achieved Yosef’s primary goal: create a situation whereby the brothers can redeem themselves by putting them through a difficult test - the brothers must forfeit their lives in order to save Binyamin. Yosef gives brothers the opportunity to prove to themselves that they have done teshuva, and only after that will they be able to face Yosef as a brother, and unite once again as a complete family.