Parshat Vayeshev

(Genesis-37:1-40:23)

(Haftara: Amos 2:6-3:8)

  1. [ 37:1] “And Ya’akov lived in the land of his father’s dwellings…”  After wrestling with the angel, Ya’akov received the new name, “Yisrael”, and this is considered a more noble name than Ya’akov. However, unlike Avraham and Sara, who also received new names, Ya’akov is still sometimes called by his old name, after receiving the new name. Why is it that after Ya’akov receives the new name, Yisrael, he is still often called Ya’akov?
  2. [37:5] “And Yosef had a dream, and he told his brothers, and they hated him even more.” The Torah tells us that Yosef’s brothers hated him because Yosef was his father’s favourite son. [37:4] Then Yosef told his brothers about his dreams in which his brothers  bowed down to him.  This is strange behaviour. If Yosef knew that they hated him, why did he tell them these dreams?
  3. [39:1] “And Yosef was brought down to Egypt…”  Yosef’s entry into Egypt is the beginning of the exile of the people of Israel. God had told Avraham that there would be an exile in Egypt. Why does it seem that the exile is a necessary condition in Jewish history?
  4. [Haftara Amos 2:7]   “…to profane My holy name.”  The prophet Amos lists the sins of Israel that show man’s inhumanity to man.  He calls these “profaning God’s holy name”? One would think that sins against God are “profaning God’s name”.  Why is “profaning God’s name” applied to sins against man?
  5. [Amos 3:2] “You only have I known of all the families of the earth. Therefore I will bring upon you all your sins.”  God says that because He is closer to us than to the other nations, he makes us suffer for our sins. If God is closer to us shouldn’t He be more lenient with us than with the other nations?

Commentary

[38:2] “And Yehudah saw the daughter of a Canaanite man…and he married her.” 

The midrash says that the brothers of Yosef were involved in fasting and tshuvah because of what had been done to Yosef, but Yehudah took a wife for  himself and God created the light of the messiah. R. Simcha Bunim of Pzyscha says that God liked Yehudah’s reaction to the sale of Yosef the best and therefore He created the light of the messiah. R. Menachem Mendel of Kotzk explains this in the following way: Yehudah knew that other than feeling regret, there was no way to make up for his part in the selling of Yosef. Therefore he decided to start his life again, and get married and do the first commandment which is to have children.  God was very pleased with this act of starting fresh and new, so he created the light of the messiah (who is one of Yehudah’s descendants).

This study page is dedicated to the memory of Gad Eliahu ben David and Kochava–Eli Zucker

And to the memory of Sarah Beila Kummer bat Yitzchak and Chana, Chaim Yosef Yechiel ben Eliyahu Kummer and Eliyahu and Margaret Kummer

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