(Haftara: Amos 2:6-3:8)
1. [ 37:1] “And Ya’akov lived in the land of his father’s dwellings…” After God changed Avram’s name to Avraham and Sarai’s name to Sara, they were no longer called by their previous names. Why is it that after Ya’akov receives the new name Yisrael, he is still often called Ya’akov?
2. [37:5] Yosef’s brothers hated him because Yosef was his father’s favourite son. [37:4] Then Yosef told them about his dreams in which his brothers bowed down to him. This is strange behaviour. The Chezkuni (France, 1250) says that by doing this, Yosef hoped that his brothers would hate him less. How could he have expected that they would hate him less?
3. [37:9] “And they said to each other, “Here comes the dreamer.” There is an approach in learning the Torah which says that we must see our forefathers as always having good and proper motivations. The midrash echoes this approach when it tries to justify Yosef’s brothers by saying that they thought that Yosef was planning a type of spiritual murder against them. Another approach says that our forefathers were very God-conscious, but also had negative feelings and motivations at times. Which approach do you prefer in reading the Chumash?
4. [39:10] “…he didn’t listen to her to lay with her…” Yosef is considered a person of great self-control. He is considered a prince among his brothers. Yehudah is also considered a prince among the tribes. But in this story about Yehudah and Tamar, Yehudah does not seem to have self-control. What happens in this story with Tamar that shows that Yehudah has great nobility of character? Is that enough reason for him be a prince among his brothers?
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.” Because God is closer to us he makes us suffer for our sins. Is this fair?
[39:2] “And God was with Yosef, and he was a successful person, and he was in the house of his master the Egyptian.”
There are people who serve God in a better way when they are poor—when life is difficult. They strongly feel what they are missing and they become attached to God by asking for their needs. There are other people who serve God better when they are comfortable, but when life is hard, they lose their direction. Yosef, however, served God when life was easy and when life was difficult. God was with him both when he was a successful person and when he was a slave in an Egyptian’s house.
–Da’at zekainim , ba’alei tosfot (the grandsons and students of Rashi –1100’s and 1200’s)
This study page is dedicated to the memory of Rivkah Rochel bat Ya’akov haLevi and Chaya Kornberg, and Yechiel Eliezer ben Yitzchok Meir and Rochel Laya Kornberg
And this study page is also dedicated to the memory of Gad Eliahu ben David and Kochava–Eli Zucker