סדר וישב

הבא נבא אני ואמך ואחיך להשתחות לך ארצה

Are we to come, I and your mother and your brothers, to bow low to you to the ground?

Genesis 37:10

Rashi explains:

He did not grasp that the reference was to Bilhah who had brought up Joseph as though she were his own mother. Our Rabbis inferred from here that there is no dream without some misinformation, and in saying this to Joseph, Jacob was trying to make his sons dismiss the whole dream and not be jealous of Joseph, suggesting that just it was impossible that the dream concerning his mother would be fulfilled, so the rest of the dream would be unfulfilled.

Many have asked why, in his first explanation, Rashi says that Jacob did not understand that the reference in the dream was to Bilhah. Was it not possible that although Jacob, like the Rabbis, understood that the dream referred to Bilhah, he wanted to persuade his sons to dismiss the dream entirely?

Our master resolved the difficulty by explaining that the Rabbis based their interpretation that whatever Jacob said was intended to persuade the brothers to dismiss the dream was because afterwards the Scripture writes (37:11) “ואביו שמר את הדבר” (but his father observed the matter), implying that Jacob did believe what the dream foretold.

However, the Midrash (Genesis Rabbah 84) on which Rashi based his first explanation that the Midrash interprets the words “ואביו שמר את הדבר” differently to mean that the Holy Spirit (רוח הקדש) instructed Jacob to observe the matter, informing him that the dream would indeed come to pass. In his commentary, the Maharaz writes that it was because the Scripture wrote “הדבר” (the matter) instead of “החלום” (the dream), that the Midrash understood that Jacob observed the matter because he had received word about the dream from the Holy Spirit. If so, it would have been unnecessary to say that Jacob rebuked Joseph so that the other sons would dismiss the dream, because Jacob observed the matter only after having been informed afterwards by the Holy Spirit that the dream would come to pass. On the contrary, it was because the dream was confirmed by the Holy Spirit that it was necessary to interpret the dream in a way that upheld its veracity which had been confirmed by the Holy Spirit.

However, those Rabbis that deduced from this dream that no dream is without some misinformation explained the words “ואביו שמר את הדבר” according to their plain meaning rather than as a reference to a communication from the Holy Spirit. For if we assume that Jacob received a communication from the Holy Spirit, then it was not only a dream, meaning that הדבר cannot be understood as just a reference to the dream. So if הדבר refers only to the dream, how could Jacob have observed the matter without knowing that every dream has some misinformation? Jacob must therefore have known that all dreams have some incorrect statement, so that his rebuke of Joseph must have been motivated only by his desire to persuade the other sons to dismiss the dream. (שביבי אש)

וימצאהו איש והנה תעה בשדה וישאלהו האיש לאמר מה תבקש

A man came upon him wandering in the fields. The man asked him, “What are you looking for?”

Genesis 37:15

Rashi writes that the man was Gabriel, as it is written “והאיש גבריאל” (and the man Gabriel). See how the Siftei Hakhamim proved that the word “איש” (man) in this verse could not be understood in its usual meaning, and the Scripture must therefore have been referring to an angel.

But our master explains that the simple meaning of the verse implies that the word “איש” must refer to an angel, because Joseph was searching for his brothers, looking everywhere to find them tending sheep. One would therefore have expected Joseph to have initiated contact with man to ask the man whether he had seen Joseph’s brothers. So the Scripture ought to have written “וימצא יוסף איש וישאלהו על אחיו” (and Joseph found a man and asked him about his brothers). Instead, the Scripture writes that the man found Joseph, engaging Joseph in conversation, asking “מה תבקש?” (what are you seeking?). Only then did Joseph ask him where his brothers were tending sheep. The sequence of the conversation shows that the man was an angel who saw, but was not seen by, Joseph until he revealed himself by asking Joseph “what are you seeking?” (שביבי אש)

והבור רק אין בו מים

The pit was empty; there was no water in it.

Genesis 37:24

The Ba’al ha-Turim cites the Masoreh, which compares this verse to the verse “כי לא דבר רק הוא מכם” (for it is not an empty thing for you). It seems to our master that the explanation of the Ba’al ha-Turim can be understood based on how the Sages explained the verse (Deuteronomy 32:47) “לא דבר רק הוא מכם” (for it is not an empty thing for you). The Sages inferred that if it is empty (אם ריק הוא), then it is empty because of you ( ריק הוא מכם), because you have failed to understand that it is indeed a wonder, and He alone performs wonders, which are beyond our comprehension, the one for whom the wonder is performed often failing to recognize that what has happened is a wonder(Nidah 31a). But one must believe that every step we take is supported by God, and that nothing is accomplished without Divine Providence. This is the meaning of the words “כי לא דבר רק הוא”. And if, nevertheless, it seems empty to you, then it is only “מכם” (because of you) that it seems so, because you have failed to perceive with your senses that what has happened is miraculous, but it is still God’s hand that controls all. 

Now it was Reuben who suggested casting Joseph into the pit, intending to save him from his brothers and return him to his father, but he did so only because he thought that the pit was empty and that no harm would befall Joseph there. But it was not so, there being cobras and vipers in the corners of the pit not seem by Reuben. But God saved Joseph from all the dangers, but the brothers were unaware of the hidden miracle performed for Joseph. The Masoreh therefore says that it is not an empty thing from God, and if it is empty, it is empty because of you who cannot see with human eyes, but understand that the hand of God has indeed done this. And the proof for this is the pit of Joseph, which was empty of water, but not of snakes and scorpions. (שביבי אש)

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