וכל בנותיו. ר' יהודה אומר תאומות נולדו עם השבטים ונשאום ר' נחמיה אומר כנעניות היו אלא מהו וכל בנותיו כלותיו כי דרך אדם לקרא לכלתו בתו. וקשיא דבת איש כנעני מתרגמינן בת גבר תגרא דאיך אפשר אברהם צוה לאליעזר לא תקח אשה לבני מבנות הכנעני ויצחק צוה ליעקב לא תקח אשה לבני מבנות הכנעני וילך יהודה וישא כנענית אלא מהו בת איש כנעני גבר תגרא. וי"ל דההיא אליבא דר' יהודה דאמר תאומות נולדו עם השבטים וגו' וכן נראה מדכתיב ושאול בן הכנענית מכלל שהאחרות לא היו כנעניות. אבל אליבא דר' נחמיה לא נצטרך לתרגם בת איש כנעני גבר תגרא אלא כנעני ממש. מיהו קשיא אליבא דר' יהודה מדאמרינן קיים א"א אפילו ערובי תבשילין גם מצות יבום היו מקיימין כדכתיב בא אל אשת אחיך ויבם אותה וא"כ האיך השבטים נשאו אחיותיהם וגם יעקב היאך נשא שתי אחיות בחייהן. וי"ל כי מאחר שלא נצטוו על התורה אע"פ שידועה ברוח הקדש מה שהיו רוצין היו מקיימין ומה שהיו רוצין היו מניחין. והא דאמרינן בערבי פסחים שבסעודה של צדיקים לעתיד לבא נותנים כוס של ברכה לברך ליעקב והוא אומר לא אברך מפני שנשאתי שתי אחיות בחייהן אלמא דשלא כהוגן עשה. א"ל דמ"מ הואיל ועתידה תורה איכא קצת עונש בדבר ואפ"ה נשאן אע"ג דאיכא קצת עונש לפי שלא היה רוצה אלא מן הצדקניות ולא מצא בדור צדקניות כמותן וגם אחת מהן לא היתה יכולה להוליד לבדה כל השנים עשר שבטים:
וכל בנותיו, “and all of his daughters;” according to Rabbi Yehudah, twin sisters had been born for Yaakov with the birth of all of his sons. These had been married by their respective half-brothers, sons of different mothers. According to the opinion of Rabbi Nechemyah, all the sons married wives of Canaanite origin. If he were correct, why does the Torah in our verse not speak of “all his daughter-in-law?“ Rabbi Nechemyah, aware of this, would reply, that in the whole world daughters-in-law are referred to as daughters. (B‘reshit Rabbah 84,21) [Naomi, in the Book of Ruth, certainly is not described as calling her daughters-in-law, “daughters.” Ed.] It is difficult to understand Rabbi Nechemyah, as we all know to what length Avraham had gone to prevent Yitzchok from marrying a wife of Canaanite descent. Yitzchok too had commanded Yaakov not to marry a woman of Canaanite descent and had sent him all the way to Charan to avoid such a union. (Genesis 28,1) Nonetheless, Yehudah married a woman of Canaanite descent. (Genesis 38,2 ברת גבר תגרא, (daughter of a business man, according to Onkelos איש כנעני means business man, traveling salesman) Onkelos therefore accepts the view of Rabbi Yehudah, who said that twin daughters were born with all of Yaakov’s sons.) This is also how we have to understand Genesis 46,10: ושאול בן הכנענית, “and Sha-ul, son of a female merchant.” According to Rabbi Nechemyah’s approach to the subject, there is no need for what sound like far fetched solutions to our problem. The word כנעני or כנענית in either of the verses that bothered us, are simply understood as elsewhere in the Bible, as people of Canaanite descent. We do have a problem if we accept Rabbi Yehudah’s interpretation, an interpretation lacking specific sources in the written text. The Talmud, tractate Yumah folio 28, states that Avaraham had voluntarily observed all the commandments in the written and oral Torah, even including the rabbinic commandment known as eyruv tavshilin, a method of how to prepare food when the day after a festival is a Sabbath, and preparation of food on the festival for the Sabbath is not admissible. He is also supposed to have observed the law of yibbum, marrying the widow of a brother who died without having ever had any children. (Compare Genesis 38,8) where Yehudah, Er’s father, gave Er’s widow Tamar to Onan, his brother, as a wife, in order for him to become posthumously and vicariously a father. If these laws were operative prior to the Torah having been revealed at Mount Sinai to the Jewish people, how could Yaakov have married two sisters while the first sister had still been alive? Also, how could any of the sons of Yaakov have married their sisters? We could answer that although these laws were already known by tradition since Avraham’s time, they had not become obligatory until after revealed at Mount Sinai. Our forefathers were free to choose the parts of the commandments they wished to observe voluntarily even they had been privy to them through the Holy Spirit. When the Talmud in Pessachim, folio 119, tells us that in the future (afterlife) at the meal prepared by G–d for the righteous, that when Yaakov was being honoured presiding over the grace after the meal, he declined the honour, saying that seeing he had wed two sisters while both were alive, he was not worthy of that honour. Clearly he considered what he had done as having been improper. It is possible to argue that having been aware that what he had done would qualify for a penalty if he would do so after the revelation at Mount Sinai, he felt that he deserved at least a minor penalty. If he decided in favour of committing an act deserving of a minor penalty, he did so because he wished to marry only wives who were personally righteous, and these were hard to find, especially considering the age at which he had a chance to get married. As it turned out, even one of these two sisters who was a righteous woman did not by herself bore for him all the twelve tribes.
ויבך אותו אביו. פירש"י יצחק היה בוכה מצרתו של יעקב אבל לא היה מתאבל כי היה יודע שהוא חי ולא רצה לגלות ליעקב מפני כבוד השכינה כדפרי' לעיל לענין מי שהחרים ושתפו להקב"ה עמהן שלא לגלות הדבר ואע"פ שכתוב מגיד דבריו ליעקב לא הגיד מפני החרם וכשירדו למצרים ומצאוהו חי אז התירו החרם ושרתה עליו שכינה כדכתיב ותחי רוח יעקב אביהם. מכלל דעד השתא לא שרתה עליו שכינה:
ויבך אותו אביו, “his father wept for him (losing him).” According to Rashi, the word: “his father,” in this verse refers to Yitzchok, Yaakov’s father. He was however, not mourning him as he knew that Joseph was still alive. He did not want to reveal this to Yaakov out of respect for G–d, who had not seen fit to reveal this to his son. (B‘reshit Rabbah 84,21) Rashi had already explained that the brothers had sworn a solemn oath one to another not to reveal what they had done Joseph to anyone, and they had included G–d in that oath of theirs. When, after 22 years they came to Egypt and found Joseph alive, they cancelled this oath. This released G–d also, and that is why the Torah wrote that upon hearing that Joseph was alive and well, the bothers’ father Yaakov “revived,” i.e. again was blessed with Holy Spirit. (Genesis 45,27). From this verse it is clear that ever since Joseph’s disappearance he had not enjoyed the presence of the Holy Spirit. From this entire chapter we learn and can prove that when an entire congregation unanimously declares something or someone as “banished,” and a single member of that congregation demurs by not accepting that decision, he is bound by the decision of the congregation, nonetheless. After all, Joseph had not been a party to the brothers’ oath, and it had remained in force nonetheless. If Joseph had been part of that oath, the other brothers would not have had to include in their oath. They had been lacking Reuven and Binyamin to make up the necessary quorum by themselves. Although Joseph was aware of this, he did not wish to interfere with that oath by revealing his whereabouts to his father. The author promises to also provide an alternate reason why Joseph did not let his father know during all these years that he had been alive and well. If you were to argue that the ban into which the brothers had put the subject of the sale of Joseph was more stringent than an ordinary such ban where G–d had not been co-opted as a partner, this is not a valid argument, as even nowadays whenever we make such a ban, we add the words: “with the consent of the Lord.” We also find this approach to oaths in the Book of Samuel 14,24, where King Sha-ul had sworn that any man eating food before evening (the day of the battle) and the army had defeated their enemy, would be cursed, i.e. executed, that his own son Jonathan, who had tasted some honey, not having been aware that his father had pronounced such an oath, had become aware of someone having violated that oath, as one of the jewels in the breastplate of the High priest had suddenly lost part of its luster. Whenever a tribe performed a commandment, the jewel representing that tribe would shine more forcefully. When a tribe, or member of it, committed a trespass, its jewel would lose its luster. When King Sha-ul found out that the jewel representing his own tribe, that of Binyamin, suddenly did not shine anymore, he realised that the fault must lie with someone of his own tribe and family. He determined who that member of his tribe was by casting lots, as had done Joshua in Joshua 7, when he found out that the jewel representing the tribe of Yehudah had lost its luster. He had cast lots to determine which member of the tribe of Yehudah had been the guilty party. Achan, son of Karmi, was the one who had illegally pocketed some of the loot from the city of Jericho, and he was duly executed after having confessed.