Vayeshev, Siman 4 וישב, ד׳
1 א

וְיוֹסֵף הוּרַד מִצְרָיְמָה. זֶה שֶׁאָמַר הַכָּתוּב: לְכוּ חֲזוּ מִפְעֲלוֹת אֱלֹהִים נוֹרָא עֲלִילָה עַל בְּנֵי אָדָם (תהלים סו, ה). אָמַר רַבִּי יְהוֹשֻׁעַ בֶּן קָרְחָה, אַף הַנּוֹרָאוֹת שֶׁאַתָּה מֵבִיא עָלֵינוּ, בַּעֲלִילָה אַתְּ מְבִיאָן. בֹּא וּרְאֵה כְּשֶׁבָּרָא הַקָּדוֹשׁ בָּרוּךְ הוּא אֶת הָעוֹלָם, מִיּוֹם הָרִאשׁוֹן בָּרָא מַלְאַךְ הַמָּוֶת. מִנַּיִן, אָמַר רַבִּי בֶרֶכְיָה, מִשּׁוּם שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר: וְחֹשֶׁךְ עַל פְּנֵי תְהוֹם (בראשית א, ב), זֶה מַלְאַךְ הַמָּוֶת הַמַּחֲשִׁיךְ פְּנֵיהֶם שֶׁל בְּרִיּוֹת.

And Joseph was brought down into Egypt (Gen. 39:1). Scripture states elsewhere in reference to this verse: Come and see the works of God; he acts circuitously in His doings toward the children of man (Ps. 66:5). R. Joshua the son of Karha declared: Even the fearful experiences You inflicted upon us, You brought about circuitously. For example, when the Holy One, blessed be He, created His world, He fashioned the angel of death on the first day. Whence do we know that? R. Berechiah said: We know it from the verse And darkness was on the face of the deep (Gen. 1:2). Darkness refers to the angel of death, for he darkens the face of man.

2 ב

וְאָדָם נִבְרָא בַשִּׁשִּׁי וַעֲלִילָה נִתְלָה בוֹ שֶׁהוּא הֵבִיא אֶת הַמִּיתָה לָעוֹלָם, שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר: כִּי בְּיוֹם אֲכָלְךָ מִמֶּנּוּ מוֹת תָּמוּת (בראשית ב, יז). מָשָׁל לְמָה הַדָּבָר דּוֹמֶה, לְמִי שֶׁמְּבַקֵּשׁ לְגָרֵשׁ אֶת אִשְׁתּוֹ, כְּשֶׁבִּקֵּשׁ לֵילֵךְ לְבֵיתוֹ כָּתַב גֵּט, נִכְנַס לְבֵיתוֹ וְהַגֵּט בְּיָדוֹ, מְבַקֵּשׁ עֲלִילָה לִתְּנוֹ לָהּ. אָמַר לָהּ: מִזְגִי לִי אֶת הַכּוֹס שֶׁאֶשְׁתֶּה. מָזְגָה לוֹ. כֵּיוָן שֶׁנָּטַל הַכּוֹס מִיָּדָהּ, אָמַר לָהּ: הֲרֵי זֶה גִּטֵּךְ. אָמְרָה לוֹ: מַה פִּשְׁעִי. אָמַר לָהּ: צְאִי מִבֵּיתִי שֶׁמָּזַגְתְּ לִי כּוֹס פָּשׁוּר. אָמְרָה לוֹ: כְּבָר הָיִיתָ יוֹדֵעַ שֶׁאֲנִי עֲתִידָה לִמְזֹג לְךָ כּוֹס פָּשׁוּר, שֶׁכָּתַבְתָּ הַגֵּט וַהֲבֵאתוֹ בְּיָדֶךָ. אַף כָּךְ, אָמַר אָדָם לִפְנֵי הַקָּדוֹשׁ בָּרוּךְ הוּא, רִבּוֹנוֹ שֶׁל עוֹלָם, עַל שֶׁלֹּא בָרָאתָ עוֹלָמְךָ קֹדֶם שְׁנֵי אֲלָפִים שָׁנָה, הָיְתָה תוֹרָה אֶצְלְךָ אָמוֹן, שֶׁכָּךְ כְּתִיב: וָאֶהְיֶה אֶצְלוֹ אָמוֹן וָאֶהְיֶה שַׁעֲשׁוּעִים יוֹם יוֹם (משלי ח, ל), שְׁנֵי אֲלָפִים שָׁנָה, וּכְתִיב בָּהּ, זֹאת הַתּוֹרָה אָדָם כִּי יָמוּת בְּאֹהֶל (במדבר יט, יד). אִלּוּלֵי שֶׁהִתְקַנְתָּ מָוֶת לַבְּרִיּוֹת, הָיִיתָ כּוֹתֵב בָּהּ כָּךְ. אֶלָּא בָּאתָ לִתְלוֹת בִּי אֶת הָעֲלִילָה. הֱוֵי, נוֹרָא עֲלִילָה עַל בְּנֵי אָדָם.

Adam was created on the sixth day, and He informed him in a roundabout way that He had brought death into the world, as it is said: For in the day that thou eatest thereof, thou shalt surely die (Gen. 2:12). To what may this be compared? It may be compared to a man who wished to divorce his wife. Before he enters his home, he writes out the divorce document and then enters the house with the divorce document in his hand. He then seeks a circuitous way to hand it to her. He says to her: “Give me some water that I may drink.” She does so, and when he takes the glass from her hand, he tells her: “Here is your divorce.” She asks: “What sin have I committed?” “Leave my house,” he retorts, “you have served me a warm drink.” “Apparently you already knew,” she replies, “that I would serve you a warm drink when you prepared the bill of divorce you brought with you.” And that is what Adam told the Holy One, blessed be He: Master of the Universe, two thousand years before You created the world, You had the Torah as an artisan, as it is written: Then was I by Him, as an artisan; and I was day by day all delight (Prov. 8:30). (The repetition of the word day indicates) that two thousand years7A thousand years in Thy sight are but as yesterday (Ps. 90:4). (had passed since He wrote the Torah). Within it is written: This is the law; that a man dieth in his tent (Num. 19:14). If You had not previously decreed death for mankind, You would not have so stated in it (the Torah). The fact is, You introduced the threat of death against me in a roundabout way. Hence He acts circuitously in His doings toward the children of men (Ps. 66:5).

3 ג

וְכֵן אַתָּה מוֹצֵא שֶׁאָמַר לוֹ הַקָּדוֹשׁ בָּרוּךְ הוּא לְמֹשֶׁה, אִם יִרְאֶה אִישׁ בָּאֲנָשִׁים הָאֵלֶּה הַדּוֹר הָרָע הַזֶה אֶת הָאָרֶץ הַטּוֹבָה וְגוֹ' (דברים א, לה). אִישׁ, זֶה מֹשֶׁה, דִּכְתִיב: וְהָאִישׁ מֹשֶׁה עָנָו (במדבר יב, ג), הָאִישׁ הַמְּסֻיָּם בָּאֲנָשִׁים. וְכֵן אַתָּה אוֹמֵר, וְהָאִישׁ בִּימֵי שָׁאוּל זָקֵן בָּא בַאֲנָשִׁים (ש״‎א יז, יב). וְכֵן הוּא אוֹמֵר, עַתָּה תִרְאֶה אֲשֶׁר אֶעֱשֶׂה לְפַרְעֹה (שמות ו, א), בְּמִלְחֶמֶת פַּרְעֹה אַתָּה רוֹאֶה וְאֵין אַתָּה רוֹאֶה בְּמִלְחֶמֶת שְׁלֹשִׁים וְאֶחָד מְלָכִים. וְכֵיוָן שֶׁאָמַר לָהֶם: שִׁמְעוּ נָא הַמֹּרִים (במדבר כ, י), אָמַר לוֹ הַקָּדוֹשׁ בָּרוּךְ הוּא, לָכֵן לֹא תָבִיאוּ אֶת הַקָּהָל הַזֶּה. הֱוֵי, נוֹרָא עֲלִילָה.

You find the Holy One, blessed be He, likewise said to Moses: Surely there shall not one of these men, even this evil generation, see the good land (Deut. 1:35). The word man alludes to Moses, as it is written: The man Moses was very meek (Num. 12:13). He was the man who was set apart from the other men (because he alone saw the Promised Land from afar). Similarly You said: And the man was an old man in the days of Saul, stricken in years among men (I Sam 17:12). And elsewhere it is stated: Now thou shalt see what I will do to Pharaoh (Exod. 6:1); that is, you will see the war that will be waged against Pharaoh, but you will not witness the wars against the thirty-one kings (after Israel enters the land). After Moses rebuked the people, saying: Hear now, ye rebels (Num. 20:10), the Holy One, blessed be He, informed him: Therefore ye shall not bring this assembly into the land (ibid., v. 12). Hence He acts circuitously in His doings toward the son of man (Ps. 66:5).

4 ד

וְכֵן הוּא אוֹמֵר בְּיוֹסֵף, וַיִּרְאוּ אֶחָיו כִּי אֹתוֹ אָהַב אֲבִיהֶם, עַל יְדֵי לָשׁוֹן שֶׁל אַרְגָּמָן שֶׁעָשָׂה לוֹ כְּתֹנֶת פַּסִּים, נִכְתַּב עָלָיו אַרְבַּע אוֹנָאוֹת. פַּסִּים, פ' פּוֹטִיפַר, ס' סוֹחֲרִים, י' יִשְׁמְעֵאלִים, מ' מִדְיָנִים. בִּשְׁבִיל כְּתֹנֶת פַּסִּים גָּרַם לְכָל הַשְּׁבָטִים לֵירֵד לְמִצְרָיִם. וְאָמַר רַבִּי יוּדָן, הָיָה הַקָּדוֹשׁ בָּרוּךְ הוּא מְבַקֵּשׁ לְקַיֵּם גְּזֵרַת יָדֹעַ תֵּדַע, וְהֵבִיא עֲלִילָה לְכָל דְּבָרִים אֵלּוּ, כְּדֵי שֶׁיֶּאֱהַב יַעֲקֹב אֶת יוֹסֵף וְיִשְׂנְאוּהוּ אֶחָיו וְיִמְכְּרוּ אוֹתוֹ לַיִּשְׁמְעֵאלִים וְיוֹרִידוּהוּ לְמִצְרַיִם וְיִשְׁמַע יַעֲקֹב שֶׁיּוֹסֵף חַי בְּמִצְרַיִם וְיֵרֵד עִם הַשְּׁבָטִים וְיִשְׁתַּעְבְּדוּ שָׁם. הֱוֵי, וְיוֹסֵף הוּרַד מִצְרָיְמָה, אַל תִּקְרֵי הוּרַד אֶלָּא הוֹרִיד אֶת אָבִיו וְהַשְּׁבָטִים לְמִצְרָיִם.

Similarly, Scripture states with reference to Joseph: And when his brethren saw that his father loved him … they hated him (Gen. 37:4). It was because of the cloak of many colors he had made for him out of (royal) purple wool. Four misfortunes are mentioned as befalling him. They are indicated by the letters of the word passim (“cloak”). The peh alludes to his sale to Potiphar; the samekh to his sale to the merchants (sohrim); the yod to his sale to the Ishmaelites (yishma’elim); and the mem to his sale to the Midianites. Because of the cloak of many colors, all the tribes were compelled to descend to Egypt. R. Yudan declared: The Holy One, blessed be He, desired to fulfill the decree Ye shall surely know that thy seed shall be a stranger (Gen. 15:13), but He resorted to subterfuge in every instance to accomplish it. He made Jacob love Joseph, so that his brothers hated him, and as a result they sold him to the Ishmaelites, who brought him to Egypt. When Jacob heard that Joseph was alive in Egypt, he descended there with his descendants. Later they were enslaved there. Though it says: And Joseph was brought down to Egypt, the word should not be read as hurad (“brought down”) but as horid (“he caused”) his father and the tribes to descend to Egypt.

5 ה

אָמַר רַבִּי תַנְחוּמָא, לְמָה הַדָּבָר דּוֹמֶה, לְפָרָה שֶׁמְּבַקְשִׁין לִתֵּן עֹל בְּצַוָּארָהּ, וְהִיא מוֹנַעַת הָעוֹל מִן צַוָּארָהּ. מֶה עָשׂוּ. נָטְלוּ אֶת בְּנָהּ מֵאַחֲרֶיהָ וּמָשְׁכוּ אוֹתָהּ לְאוֹתוֹ מָקוֹם שֶׁמְּבַקְשִׁין בּוֹ לַחֲרוֹשׁ, וְהָיָה הָעֵגֶל גּוֹעֶה. שָׁמְעָה הַפָּרָה בְּנָהּ גּוֹעֶה, הָלְכָה שֶׁלֹּא בְטוֹבָתָהּ בִּשְׁבִיל בְּנָהּ. כָּךְ הַקָּדוֹשׁ בָּרוּךְ הוּא הָיָה מְבַקֵּשׁ לְקַיֵם גְּזֵרַת יָדֹע תֵּדַע, וְהֵבִיא עֲלִילָה לְכָל אֵלּוּ הַדְּבָרִים וְיָרְדוּ לְמִצְרַיִם וּפָרְעוּ אֶת הַשְּׁטָר. לְכָךְ נֶאֱמַר: וְיוֹסֵף הוּרַד מִצְרָיְמָה, הֱוֵי, נוֹרָא עֲלִילָה וְגוֹ'.

R. Tanhuma said: To what may this be compared? To a cow upon whose neck they wish to place a yoke which she does not want and which she constantly casts off. What do they do? They move one of her calves to the place they wish the cow to plow. The calf starts to low, and the cow, upon hearing the lowing of her calf, goes to that place, though against her will, for the sake of her offspring. In the same way, when the Holy One, blessed be He, wanted to fulfill the decree Ye shall surely know, He acted in a roundabout way in the entire matter. And they descended to Egypt to pay off the bill of debt (i.e., to fulfill the decree). Thus it is said: And Joseph was brought down to Egypt. Hence, He acts circuitously in His doing toward the children of man (Ps. 66:5).