Vayigash, Siman 5 ויגש, ה׳
1 א

דָּבָר אַחֵר, וַיִּגַּשׁ אֵלָיו יְהוּדָה, שֶׁנִּגַּשׁ בְּתוֹכָחוֹת. בִּי אֲדֹנִי, אַל תַּעֲבוֹר עָלֵינוּ מִדַּת הַדִּין, יְדַבֵּר נָא עַבְדְּךָ דָּבָר בְּאָזְנֵי אֲדוֹנִי רָאוּי הָיָה לוֹמַר לִפְנֵי אֲדוֹנִי, אֶלָּא מְלַמֵּד שֶׁהָיָה מְדַבֵּר אַחַת קָשָׁה וְאַחַת רַכָּה.

Another comment on Then Judah drew near unto him. He came near him and said huskily; “Oh, my lord, do not transgress the laws of justice because of us. Let thy servant, I pray thee, speak a word in my lord’s ear” (Gen. 44:18). It would have been more fitting if he had said: “in the presence of my lord.” Hence these words teach us that he spoke both harshly and gently.

2 ב

כִּי כָמוֹךָ כְּפַרְעֹה, כְּשֵׁם שֶׁפַּרְעֹה רַבְּךָ אוֹהֵב נָשִׁים וּמְחַמְּדָן, כָּךְ אַתָּה רָאִיתָ לְבִנְיָמִין שֶׁהוּא יְפֵה תֹאַר וְאַתָּה מְחַמְּדוֹ לִהְיוֹת לְךָ לְעֶבֶד.

For thou art even as Pharaoh (ibid.). Your master, Pharaoh, loved women and wanted to possess them, and so you longed to have Benjamin as your servant, when you saw how handsome he was.5Pharaoh is accused in Jewish tradition of sexual perversion. See Ginzberg, Legends of the Jews 2:103; Bereshit Rabbah 93:6. He implies that Joseph is like Pharaoh in that regard.

3 ג

דָּבָר אַחֵר, כִּי כָמוֹךָ כְּפַרְעֹה, כְּשֵׁם שֶׁאַתָּה וּפַרְעֹה גְּדוֹלִים בִּמְקוֹמְכֶם, כָּךְ אָנוּ גְּדוֹלִים בִּמְקוֹמֵנוּ.

Another comment on For thou art even as Pharaoh. Just as you and Pharaoh are highly esteemed where you reside, so we are highly esteemed where we dwell.

4 ד

אֲדֹנִי שָׁאַל אֶת עֲבָדָיו, אָמַר לוֹ: מִתְּחִלָּה בַּעֲלִילָה בָּאתָ עָלֵינוּ, מִכַּמָּה מְדִינוֹת יָרְדוּ לְמִצְרַיִם לִשְׁבֹּר אֹכֶל וְלֹא שָׁאַלְתָּ אַחַד מֵהֶן, שֶׁמָּא בִּתְּךָ בָּאנוּ לִקַּח אוֹ אֲחוֹתֵנוּ אַתָּה סָבוּר לִשָּׂא, אַף עַל פִּי כֵן לֹא כִסִּינוּ מִמְּךָ דָּבָר.

My lord asked his servants (ibid., v. 19). That is, he said to him: “From the very outset you practiced subterfuge toward us. Men have come to Egypt from numerous provinces to purchase grain, but you did not ask them, ‘Perhaps you have come to marry our daughters, or maybe you want to wed our sisters.’ Nevertheless, we withheld nothing from you.”

5 ה

אָמַר לוֹ יוֹסֵף, יְהוּדָה, לָמָּה אַתָּה דַבְּרָן מִכָּל אַחֶיךָ, וַאֲנִי רוֹאֶה בַגָּבִיעַ שֶׁיֵּשׁ בְּאַחֶיךָ גְּדוֹלִים מִמְּךָ וְאַתָּה פַּטִּיט. אָמַר לוֹ: כָּל זֹאת שֶׁאַתָּה רוֹאֶה, בִּשְׁבִיל הָעַרְבוּת שֶׁעָרַבְתִּי אוֹתוֹ. אָמַר לוֹ: מִפְּנֵי מָה לֹא עָרַבְתָּ אֶת אָחִיךָ כְּשֶׁמְּכַרְתֶּם אוֹתוֹ לַיִּשְׁמְעֵאלִים בְּעֶשְׂרִים כָּסֶף, וְצִעַרְתָּ אֶת אָבִיךָ הַזָּקֵן וְאָמַרְתָּ לוֹ טָרֹף טֹרַף יוֹסֵף, וְהוּא לֹא חָטָא לָךְ. אֲבָל זֶה שֶׁחָטָא וְגָנַב הַגָּבִיעַ, אֱמֹר לְאָבִיךָ, הָלַךְ הַחֶבֶל אַחַר הַדְּלִי.

Joseph retorted. “Why do you speak in behalf of all your brothers? I have discovered through this cup that you do have older brothers, and that you are, indeed, a garrulous creature.” Judah replied: “What you see is correct, but I am compelled to speak because I pledged myself as a surety for my brother.” “Then why were you not surety for your brother when you sold him to the Midianites for twenty pieces of silver, and why did you distress your father by telling him Joseph is without doubt torn to pieces (Gen. 37:33)? Joseph did you no evil, but this one sinned in stealing the goblet. Go tell your father: The rope has followed after the bucket.”6That is, Benjamin suffered the same fate as Joseph.

6 ו

כֵּיוָן שֶׁשָּׁמַע יְהוּדָה כָּךְ, צָעַק וּבָכָה בְּקוֹל גָּדוֹל וּבְמַר נֶפֶשׁ. אָמַר, כִּי אֵיךְ אֶעֱלֶה אֶל אָבִי וְהַנַּעַר אֵינֶנּוּ אִתִּי וְגוֹ'. אָמַר לוֹ יוֹסֵּף, בֹּא וְנִתְוַכֵּחַ שְׁנֵינוּ, אֱמֹר מִלֶּךָ וּסְדֹר דִּינֶךָ.

When Judah heard this he cried out bitterly in a loud voice: How shall I go up to my father, if the lad be not with me? Lest I look upon the evil that shall come on my father (ibid. 44:34). Whereupon Joseph said: “Come, let us consider the matter between us. Tell me what you think and present your arguments.”

7 ז

מִיָּד אָמַר יְהוּדָה לְנַפְתָּלִי, לֵךְ וּרְאֵה כַּמָּה שְׁוָקִים יֵשׁ בְּמִצְרָיִם. קָפַץ וְחָזַר, אָמַר לוֹ שְׁנֵים עָשָׂר. אָמַר יְהוּדָה לְאֶחָיו, אֲנִי אַחֲרִיב מֵהֶן שְׁלֹשָה, וּטְלוּ כָּל אֶחָד מִכֶּם אֶחָד וְלֹא נַשְׁאִיר בָּהֶם אִישׁ. אָמְרוּ לוֹ אֶחָיו, יְהוּדָה, מִצְרַיִם אֵינָהּ כִּשְׁכֶם. אִם אַתָּה מַחֲרִיב מִצְרַיִם, תַּחֲרִיב אֶת הָעוֹלָם כֻּלּוֹ. בְּאוֹתָהּ שָׁעָה, וְלֹא יָכֹל יוֹסֵף לְהִתְאַפֵּק.

Judah said forthwith to Naphtali: “Go and count the number of central markets in Egypt.” He hurried away, and on his return informed Judah that there were twelve markets in Egypt. Judah told his brothers: “I will destroy three of them, and each of you will destroy another. Do not permit a single soul to survive.” His brothers retorted: “Judah, Egypt is not Shechem.7They destroyed Shechem because of Dinah (See Gen. 34) but Egypt was a great power. If you were able to devastate Egypt, you would destroy the entire world by doing that.” From that moment on Joseph was no longer able to restrain himself.

8 ח

אָמַר רַבִּי שְׁמוּאֵל בַּר נַחְמָן, לְסַכָּנָה גְדוֹלָה יָרַד יוֹסֵף, שֶׁאִם הֲרָגוּהוּ אֶחָיו, אֵין בְּרִיָּה בָּעוֹלָם מַכִּירוֹ. וְלָמָּה אָמַר הוֹצִיאוּ כָל אִישׁ מֵעָלָי. אֶלָּא כָּךְ אָמַר יוֹסֵף בְּלִבּוֹ, מוּטָב שֶׁאֵהָרֵג וְלֹא אֲבַיֵּשׁ אֶת אַחַי בִּפְנֵי הַמִּצְרִים.

R. Samuel the son of Nahman remarked: Then Joseph placed himself in an extremely precarious position, for if his brothers had killed him, not a single person would have been aware of it. Why did he say: Cause every man to go out from me (Gen. 45:1)? Joseph had said to himself: “I would rather die than shame my brothers before the Egyptians.”

9 ט

אָמַר לוֹ יְהוּדָה לְיוֹסֵף, תֵּדַע שֶׁמִּתְּחִלָּה לֹא בָאתָ עָלֵינוּ אֶלָּא בַעֲלִילוֹת. בַּתְּחִלָּה אָמַרְתָּ לָנוּ מְרַגְּלִים אַתֶּם. שְׁנִיָּה, אָמַרְתָּ לִרְאוֹת אֶת עֶרְוַת הָאָרֶץ בָּאתֶם. שְׁלִישִׁית, גְּבִיעִי גְנַבְתֶּם. אֲנִי נִשְׁבָּע בְּחַיֵּי אָבִי הַצַּדִּיק, וְאַתָּה נִשְׁבַּעְתָּ בְּחַיֵּי פַרְעֹה הָרָשָׁע. אִם אֲנִי אוֹצִיא אֶת חַרְבִּי מִנַּרְתִּיקָהּ, אֲמַלֵּא כָל מִצְרַיִם הֲרוּגִים. אָמַר לוֹ יוֹסֵף, אִם תּוֹצִיא חֶרֶב מִנַּרְתִּיקָהּ, אֲנִי כּוֹרְכָהּ עַל צַוָּארֶךָ. אָמַר לוֹ יְהוּדָה, אִם אֶפְתַּח אֶת פִּי אֶבְלַע אוֹתָךְ. אָמַר לוֹ יוֹסֵף, אִם תִּפְתַּח פִּיךָ אֲנִי סוֹתְמוֹ בָּאָבֶן. אָמַר יְהוּדָה לְיוֹסֵף, מַה נֹּאמַר לְאַבָּא. אָמַר לוֹ: אֱמֹר לְאָבִיךָ, הָלַךְ הַחֶבֶל אַחַר הַדְּלִי.

Judah railed at Joseph: “You know that from the very beginning you brought false charges against us. First you said to us: You are spies. Then you charged: You have come to see the nakedness of the city. And finally you declared: “You have stolen my cup. I swear by the life of my righteous father, and you may swear by the life of the wicked Pharaoh, that if I should draw my sword from its sheath, I will fill Egypt with corpses.” “Draw your sword from its sheath,” Joseph retorted, “and I will wrap it around your neck.” Judah replied: “If I but open my mouth I will consume you.” And “If you open your mouth, I will stuff it with a stone,” retorted Joseph. Then Judah asked Joseph: “What shall we tell our father?” “Tell your father, Joseph told him, “that the rope has followed the bucket.”

10 י

אָמַר לוֹ יְהוּדָה, דִּין שֶׁקֶר אַתָּה דָן אוֹתָנוּ. אָמַר לוֹ יוֹסֵף, אֵין לְךָ דִּין שֶׁקֶר כִּמְכִירַת אֲחִיכֶם. אָמַר לוֹ יְהוּדָה, נוּרָא דִשְׁכֶם דָּלִיק בְּלִבִּי. אָמַר לוֹ יוֹסֵף, נוּרָא דְתָמָר כַּלָּתָךְ אֲנָא מַטְפֵי. אָמַר לוֹ יְהוּדָה, רָתָח אֲנָא וְלֵית דִּמְהֵימַן לִי. אָמַר לוֹ יוֹסֵף, רִתְחָא דִידָךְ אֲנָא מְתַבַּר. אָמַר לוֹ יְהוּדָה, עַכְשָׁו אֲנִי אֵצֵא וְאֶצְבַּע כָּל שְׁוָקִים שֶׁבְּמִצְרַיִם בַּדָּם. אָמַר לוֹ יוֹסֵף, צַבָּעִים הֱיִיתֶם מִימֵיכֶם, שֶׁצְּבַעְתֶּם כְּתֹנֶת אֲחִיכֶם בַּדָּם וַאֲמַרְתֶּם לַאֲבִיכֶם טָרֹף טֹרַף.

Judah said to him: “You have judged falsely.” And Joseph replied: “Did you not judge your brother falsely when you sold him?” Judah answered: “The fire of Shechem burns in my heart.” And Joseph said: “I will extinguish the fire that burns within you for your daughter-in-law Tamar.”8Judah had intercourse with his daughter-in-law Tamar. See Gen. 38. “I am consumed by anger, and no one believes me,” cried Judah. And Joseph retorted: “I will break your anger.” “I shall go out,” said Judah, “and dye the marketplaces of Egypt in blood.” “All your life,” replied Joseph, “you have been dying things in blood, even as you and your brothers dyed your brother’s coat of many colors in blood and then told your father: Joseph is without doubt torn in pieces (ibid. 37:33).”

11 יא

כֵּיוָן שֶׁרָאָה יוֹסֵף שֶׁהִסְכִּימָה דַּעְתָּם לְהַחֲרִיב אֶת מִצְרַיִם, אָמַר יוֹסֵף בְּלִבּוֹ, מוּטָב שֶׁאֶתְוַדַּע לָהֶן וְאַל יַחֲרִיבוּ אֶת מִצְרָיִם. אָמַר לָהֶן יוֹסֵף, לֹא כָךְ אֲמַרְתֶּם שֶׁאָחִיו שֶׁל זֶה מֵת. אֲנִי קְנִיתִיו, אֶקְרָאֶנּוּ וְיָבֹא אֶצְלְכֶם. הִתְחִיל קוֹרֵא, יוֹסֵף בֶּן יַעֲקֹב בֹּא אֶצְלִי, יוֹסֵף בֶּן יַעֲקֹב בֹּא אֶצְלִי וְדַבֵּר עִם אַחֶיךָ שֶׁמְּכָרוּךָ, וְהָיוּ נוֹשְׂאִין עֵינֵיהֶם בְּאַרְבַּע פִּנּוֹת הַבָּיִת. אָמַר לָהֶם יוֹסֵף, לָמָּה אַתֶּם מִסְתַּכְּלִין לְכָאן וּלְכָאן, אֲנִי יוֹסֵף אֲחִיכֶם. מִיָּד פָּרְחָה נִשְׁמָתָן וְלֹא יָכְלוּ לַעֲנוֹת אֹתוֹ.

When Joseph realized that they had agreed to destroy Egypt, he said to himself: “It is better to make myself known to them than to risk the destruction of Egypt.” And he said to them: “You said, did you not, that this one’s brother is dead? The fact is that I have purchased him. I will summon him and he will come to you.” He began to call out: “Joseph son of Jacob, come to me, Joseph son of Jacob, come to me, and speak to your brothers who sold you.” They stared into every corner of the house, until Joseph said to them: “Why do you look all around you? I am your brother Joseph.” They all fainted at once, unable to reply.

12 יב

אָמַר רַבִּי יוֹחָנָן, וַי לָנוּ מִיּוֹם הַדִּין, וַי לָנוּ מִיּוֹם תּוֹכֵחָה. וּמָה, יוֹסֵף כְּשֶׁאָמַר לְאֶחָיו אֲנִי יוֹסֵף, פָּרְחָה נִשְׁמָתָן. כְּשֶׁעוֹמֵד הַקָּדוֹשׁ בָּרוּךְ הוּא לָדִין דִּכְתִיב בֵּיהּ (מלאכי ג, ב) וּמִי מְכַלְכֵּל אֶת יוֹם בּוֹאוֹ וּמִי הָעוֹמֵד בְּהֵרָאוֹתוֹ שֶׁכָּתוּב בּוֹ כִּי לֹא יִרְאַנִי הָאָדָם וָחָי (שמות לג, כ) עַל אַחַת כַּמָּה וְכַמָּה, וּמַה זֶה נִבְהֲלוּ אֶחָיו מִפָּנָיו כְּשֶׁיָּבוֹא הַקָּדוֹשׁ בָּרוּךְ הוּא לִתְבֹּעַ עֶלְבּוֹן הַמִּצְוֹת וּפִשְׁעָהּ שֶׁל תּוֹרָה, עַל אַחַת כַּמָּה וְכַמָּה.

R. Yohanan declared: Woe unto us on judgment day, woe unto us on the day of rebuke, for if Joseph could cause them to faint by saying “I am your brother Joseph,” what will happen when the Holy One, blessed be He, arises to judge us, since it is written about Him: Who may abide the day of His coming? And who shall stand when he appeareth? (Mal. 3:2), and For no man shall see Me and live (Exod. 3:20)? If a mere human could confound his brothers, how much more so will we be confounded when the Holy One, blessed be He, examines us concerning our arrogance toward the commandments and our transgressions of the Torah.

13 יג

עָשָׂה הַקָּדוֹשׁ בָּרוּךְ הוּא לָהֶם נֵס וְחָזְרָה נִשְׁמָתָן. אָמַר לָהֶם יוֹסֵּף, וְהִנֵּה עֵינֵיכֶם רֹאוֹת וְעֵינֵי אָחִי בִנְיָמִין כִּי פִי בִּלְשׁוֹן הַקֹּדֶשׁ אֲנִי מְדַבֵּר. וְלֹא הָיוּ מַאֲמִינִים בּוֹ, עַד שֶׁפָּרַע אֶת עַצְמוֹ וְהֶרְאָה לָהֶם חוֹתַם בְּרִית. וְכָל כָּךְ לָמָּה. מִפְּנֵי שֶׁיָּצָא מֵאֶצְלָם בְּלֹא חֲתִימַת זָקָן, וְעַכְשָׁו הָיָה עוֹמֵד כְּמֶלֶךְ בַּחֲתִימַת זָקָן.

Then the Holy One, blessed be He, performed a miracle by restoring their souls to them. Joseph said: “Behold, your eyes see, and the eyes of my brother Benjamin, that it is my mouth that speaketh unto you (Gen. 45:12); for I am speaking to you in Hebrew.” They would not believe him until he bared his body and showed them the sign of the covenant (i.e., his circumcision). Why was all that necessary? When he (was sold into slavery and) left them, he did not possess any signs of maturity but now he stood before them like a king, with the mark of maturity upon him (his beard).

14 יד

כֵּיוָן שֶׁהִכִּירוּהוּ, בִּקְשׁוּ לְהָרְגוֹ. יָרַד מַלְאָךְ וּפִזְּרָם בְּאַרְבַּע פִּנּוֹת הַבָּיִת. בְּאוֹתָהּ שָׁעָה צָוַח יְהוּדָה בְּקוֹל גָּדוֹל וְנָפְלוּ כָּל חוֹמוֹת שֶׁבְּמִצְרַיִם וְהִפִּילוּ כָּל הַחַיּוֹת שֶׁבְּמִצְרַיִם וְנָפַל יוֹסֵף מִכִּסְאוּ וְיָרַד פַּרְעֹה מִכִּסְאוֹ, וְנָפְלוּ שִׁנֵּיהֶם. וְכָל הַגִּבּוֹרִים שֶׁהָיוּ עוֹמְדִין לִפְנֵי יוֹסֵף, נֶהֶפְכוּ פְנֵיהֶם לַאֲחוֹרֵיהֶם וְלֹא הֶחֱזִירוּ עַד יוֹם מוֹתָן, שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר: שַׁאֲגַת אַרְיֵה וְקוֹל שָׁחַל וְשִׁנֵּי כְפִירִים נִתָּעוּ (איוב ד, י). לְפִיכָךְ הוּא אוֹמֵר, וְהַקֹּל נִשְׁמַע בֵּית פַּרְעֹה. וְאֵין קוֹל זֶה אֶלָּא קוֹל יְהוּדָה, שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר: שְׁמַע ה' קוֹל יְהוּדָה (דברים לג, ז).

When at last they recognized him, they sought to kill him. An angel descended and scattered them to the four corners of the room. At that moment, Judah screamed so loudly that all the walls of Egypt toppled, all the animals of Egypt gave birth prematurely, and Joseph and Pharaoh tumbled from their thrones. Their teeth fell out, and the heads of the powerful men standing at Joseph’s side were reversed and remained so until their deaths, as it is said: The lion roareth, and the fierce lion howleth—and the teeth of the young lions are broken (Job 4:10). Hence Scripture says: The voice thereof was heard in Pharaoh’s house (Gen. 45:16). The voice here refers to the voice of Judah, as it is said: Hear, Lord, the voice of Judah (Deut. 33:7).

15 טו

כֵּיוָן שֶׁרָאָה יוֹסֵף שֶׁהָיְתָה לָהֶם בּוּשָׁה גְדוֹלָה, אָמַר לָהֶן, גְּשׁוּ נָא אֵלַי, וַיִּגָּשׁוּ. וְכָל אֶחָד וְאֶחָד הָיָה מְנַשְּׁקוֹ וּבוֹכֶה עָלָיו, שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר: וַיְנַשֵּׁק לְכָל אֶחָיו וַיֵּבְךְִ עֲלֵיהֶם. וּכְשֵׁם שֶׁלֹּא פִיֵּס יוֹסֵף אֶת אֶחָיו אֶלָּא מִתּוֹךְ בִּכְיָה, כָּךְ כְּשֶׁיִּגְאַל הַקָּדוֹשׁ בָּרוּךְ הוּא אֶת יִשְׂרָאֵל, מִתּוֹךְ בִּכְיָה הוּא גוֹאֲלָם, שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר: בִּבְכִי יָבֹאוּ וּבְתַחֲנוּנִים אוֹבִילֵם אוֹלִיכֵם אֶל נַחֲלֵי מַיִם בְּדֶרֶךְ יָשָׁר לֹא יִכָּשְׁלוּ בָּהּ כִּי הָיִיתִי לְיִשְׂרָאֵל לְאָב וְאֶפְרַיִם בְּכֹרִי הוּא (ירמיה לא, ח).

When Joseph saw that they were extremely embarrassed, he said to them: Come near to me, I pray you (Gen. 45:4). As each one of them approached, he kissed him and wept with him, as is said: And he kissed all his brethren, and wept upon them (ibid., v. 15). Just as Joseph comforted his brothers while they were weeping, so the Holy One, blessed be He, will redeem Israel while she weeps, as it is said: They shall come with weeping, and with supplications will I lead them; I will cause them to walk by rivers of waters, in a straight way wherein they shall not stumble (Jer. 31:9).