"ויגש אליו יהודה ויאמר בי אדני ידבר נא עבדך דבר... כי כמוך כפרעה"
“And Yehudah came near him, and said: ‘Oh my lord, please let your servant speak a word... for you are as Pharaoh.’” (44:18)

QUESTION: What did Yehudah tell Yosef?

ANSWER: According to the Midrash Rabbah (93:6), Yehudah argued on behalf of Binyamin: “In our laws it is written that a thief must make full restitution. ‘If he does not have the means, he must be sold [as a slave to make restitution] for his theft (Shemot 22:2).’ However, Binyamin comes from a wealthy family and can pay.’ ” One may wonder, of what significance Yehudah thought the Torah laws would have for this Egyptian leader?

Yehudah explained to Yosef, “Our Torah is Divine Knowledge. It appears strange that it would prescribe slavery for one who stole. Who would want to bring a thief into his home? Obviously, the Torah feels that when a person steals, it is necessary to know what caused him to stoop so low. If he is merely a kleptomaniac, of course, he cannot be let loose in society. But if he steals out of need, society must help him ‘get up on his feet’ and rehabilitate him. Therefore, in the home of his master, where he will be treated properly, he will make amends and become an asset to humanity.

“Since Binyamin comes from a very wealthy family, there is no rationale to explain the alleged robbery, only the fact that he is mentally ill and a kleptomaniac. Therefore, it makes no sense that you should employ such a person.”

(פרדס יוסף)

* * *

Alternatively, Yehudah asked to speak to Yosef in secrecy because he thought that Yosef did not know Lashon HaKodesh — Hebrew — otherwise, there would be no need for an interpreter. Hence, he said to Yosef: “You are the same as Pharaoh; since the two of you do not know Lashon HaKodesh, consequently, neither you nor Pharaoh have a right to the throne because according to the laws of Egypt, a king can only be a person who knows all the languages. Obviously, you do not respect the laws of your own land.

“When a visitor to a city commits a crime, he should be judged either by the laws of that city or by the laws of the city from which he comes. Since you do not respect your own laws, then follow ours. According to our laws, one can be sold as a slave for robbery only if the money produced by the sale is equal to the amount stolen (Kiddushin 18a).

“If your allegation is correct, and this cup is priceless, the income from the sale will not cover the robbery, and therefore he cannot be sold. If, on the other hand, it is of very limited value, then according to our laws, one who is capable of paying for the items stolen cannot be sold.”

(פרדס דוד)


"ויגש אליו יהודה"
“And Yehudah came up to him.” (44:18)

QUESTION: According to the Midrash Rabbah (93:6), Yehudah was ready to go to war with Yosef, and he felt more responsible than the other brothers because “he guaranteed the safe return of Binyamin.” Yehudah and his brothers were very strong, but greatly outnumbered. Why did Yehudah want to wage war?

ANSWER: Yehudah told Yosef, “We are Jews, and Binyamin is a young member of our people. When even one Jew is in danger spiritually, it is incumbent on all Jews to do everything in their power to save him and return him safely to his father — Hashem — and the Torah. Remaining in Egypt would spell assimilation for Binyamin. Therefore, we will do anything, and even endanger ourselves, to save our brother.”

(לקוטי שיחות ח"א)


"ויגש אליו יהודה ויאמר"
“And Yehudah came up to him and said....” (44:18)

QUESTION: Yehudah himself originally offered that all the brothers and Binyamin would be slaves for the theft of the goblet. Yosef refused this, because it was not fair. Why was Yehudah now complaining?

ANSWER: Yehudah believed that every event is an act of individual Divine Providence (Hashgachah Pratit). After the missing goblet was found in Binyamin’s sack, Yehudah said, “G‑d has found the sin of your servants” (44:16). By this he meant, “None of us are thieves. However, Hashem is punishing us for what we did to Yosef. We are ready to accept His punishment and all of us (including Binyamin who allegedly took the goblet) will become slaves.”

When Yosef said he would take only Binyamin as a slave, Yehudah understood that this was not a punishment for selling Yosef, but rather a false accusation and libel against Binyamin. Consequently, he demanded that Binyamin be released immediately.

(אלשיך)


"אדני שאל את עבדיו לאמר היש לכם אב או אח"
“My lord asked his servants, saying, ‘Have you a father or brother?’” (44:19)

QUESTION: Binyamin was accused of stealing a magical silver goblet. How did Yehudah hope to defend him with this statement?

ANSWER: Yehudah said to Yosef, “Even if your allegations about Binyamin are correct — which they are not — I don’t understand why you are making such an issue over an ordinary goblet.” Yosef responded, “This is a priceless magical goblet; through it I can see the past and future. Therefore, Binyamin committed a major crime and deserves slavery.”

Yehudah said to Yosef, “This is not true! The goblet is an ordinary one with no special value.” He proved this by reminding Yosef, “You asked us if we have a father or a brother. If you have a magical goblet, why did you have to ask us questions? Could you not have known all about us by looking into your magical goblet?!”

(פרדס יוסף)


"ונפשו קשורה בנפשו"
“His soul is bound up with his soul.” (44:30)

QUESTION: How did their souls become connected?

ANSWER: The word “keshurah” (קשורה) — “bound” — has the numerical value of 611, which is the same numerical value as the word “Torah” (תורה). Yaakov taught Binyomin Torah and through their Torah study, their souls became connected.

Torah is the language that unifies Jews of past, present and future generations.


"והיה כראותו כי אין הנער ומת"
“It will happen that when he sees the youth is missing he will die.” (44:31)

QUESTION: At that time, Binyamin already had ten children. Why wasn’t Yehudah worried that the children would die if they did not see their father returning home?

ANSWER: Yehudah was well aware that according to human nature, a parent worries more about his children than children do about their parents. For example, often, a child will be late in coming home and not think of calling his parents who are “pulling their hair out” with worry. On the other hand, a parent will always do everything for his child, even if he is not happy with the way the child is behaving and growing up.

Therefore, Yehudah was afraid that Yaakov might not be able to live without Binyamin, although Binyamin’s children would adjust to the situation.

(ר' מנחם מענדל מקוצק זצ"ל)


"ויאמר יוסף אל אחיו אני יוסף העוד אבי חי"
“Yosef said to his brothers, ‘I am Yosef; is my father still alive?’” (45:3)

QUESTION: The first time the brothers came to Egypt, Yosef asked them about their father. At their second arrival he again asked about their father. Why did he ask the question a third time?

ANSWER: When Yosef revealed himself to his brothers, he knew that they would be reluctant to believe him. He therefore gave them certain signs to prove who he was.

This time Yosef was not asking his brothers, but saying in effect, “From my question you can realize that I am really your missing brother. Whenever we meet I only ask about my father and not about my mother, because I know that she died many years ago. If I were a stranger and pretending, I would ask about both my father and my mother.”

(אמרי יהודה)


"ויאמר יוסף אל אחיו אני יוסף העוד אבי חי ולא יכלו לענות אתו כי נבהלו מפניו"
“Yosef said, ‘I am Yosef; is my father still alive?’ The brothers became frightened of him and were unable to answer.” (45:3)

QUESTION: Why were the brothers unable to answer Yosef’s simple question?

ANSWER: When Yehudah defended Binyamin before Yosef, he asked that he be released out of mercy. Yehudah explained to Yosef that the brothers had an elderly father and they were afraid that when he saw his son did not return, he might die of grief.

Upon hearing this, Yosef said to Yehudah and his brothers, “ani Yosef ” — “I am Yosef,” — “I am your brother Yosef whom you sold 22 years ago” — “ha’od avi chai” — “Is my father still alive? — Think how much pain and grief you caused him by keeping my sale a secret and not telling him my whereabouts. You plead to me to have mercy; why didn’t you have mercy on your father?”

The brothers were unable to answer, because they could not justify the grief they had caused their father.

(מצאתי בכתבי אבי הרב שמואל פסח ז"ל באגאמילסקי)


"ולא יכלו אחיו לענות אתו כי נבהלו מפניו"
“The brothers were unable to answer him because they were frightened of his face.” (45:3)

QUESTION: Why does it say “nivhalu mipanav” — “his face frightened them”? It should have simply said “nivhalu mimeno” — “they were frightened of him”?

ANSWER: Yosef’s countenance was identical to Yaakov’s. When the brothers met Yosef, the Torah says, “Yosef recognized his brothers, but they did not recognize him” (42:8).Why didn’t they recognize him since his resemblance to Yaakov was exact?

Yosef did not want his brothers to recognize him. Therefore, when he spoke to them, he covered his face with a veil (as is customary in many Arabic countries), and the brothers were unable to observe his face. Upon revealing himself, he uncovered his face and said to them, “I am Yosef.” Knowing that Yosef looked identical to Yaakov, they became frightened when they saw that the face of the man speaking to them resembled exactly that of their father, Yaakov.

(זכרון ישראל)


"אני יוסף אחיכם אשר מכרתם אתי מצרימה"
“I am Yosef your brother whom you sold to Egypt.”(45:4)

QUESTION: The brothers were already saddened and brokenhearted. Why did Yosef add to their pain and mention the sale?

ANSWER: Yosef did this without malice. On the contrary, he mentioned it in order to comfort and relax them. Yosef understood that his brothers would have anxiety regarding him. In their minds, there would be the fear that his Torah identity was weakened by the temptations of Egypt. He therefore said, “Be assured that I am totally loyal to Torah and mitzvot; I am the very same Yosef that I was before, and my adherence to Torah did not change since you sold me to Egypt.”

(ר' מנחם מענדל מקוצק זצ"ל)


"מהרו ועלו אל אבי ואמרתם אליו כה אמר בנך יוסף שמני אלקים לאדון לכל מצרים"
“Hurry — go up to my father and say to him, ‘So said your son Yosef: G‑d has made me master of all Egypt.’” (45:9)

QUESTION: The words “bincha Yosef” — “your son Yosef” — seem superfluous. Why did he not simply instruct them, “Tell father I said...”?

ANSWER: When the brothers returned home after the sale of Yosef, they showed a garment to their father and said, “Please identify it: Is it your son’s shirt?” Yaakov sensed in their words a frightening hatred and animosity. The mere fact that they did not mention Yosef by name and referred to him as “bincha” — “your son” — conveyed to him their attitude to Yosef. Yaakov in pain and anguish cried out, “This is indeed my son’s shirt, and tarof toraf Yosef!” — “[An evil beast devoured him and] Yosef has been torn to bits!” (37:32-33).

The word “Yosef” seems superfluous. “He was torn to bits” would be sufficient. Yaakov was telling his children, “From your words I see that you have ‘torn up’ the name ‘Yosef.’ You hate him to the extent that you are unable to even mention his name.”

Yosef, therefore, instructed his brothers, when they returned to Yaakov, that they should specifically say the words “bincha Yosef” — “your son, Yosef.” Thus, Yaakov would see that the hatred they bore against Yosef had been erased.

Upon hearing their message, Yaakov exclaimed with joy: “Rav; od Yosef b’ni chai” — “I am extremely grateful and jubilant because I perceive that the ‘name’ of my son Yosef still exists and that my children say it with respect and love” (45:28).

(בית יעקב ר' יעקב הכהן ז"ל טראב – מסלתון ראב"ד ביירות)


"מהרו ועלו אל אבי ואמרתם אליו כה אמר בנך יוסף שמני אלקים לאדון לכל מצרים"
“Hurry — go up to my father and say to him, ‘So said your son Yosef: G‑d has made me master of all Egypt.’” (45:9)

QUESTION: Yosef was in very a high position and free to do whatever he wanted. Why didn’t he contact his father and tell him his whereabouts earlier?

ANSWER: Yosef’s brothers committed a heinous crime against him. Due to jealousy they caused their half-brother to be sold as a slave to Egyptians. Yosef, however, did not bear any hatred against his brothers. On the contrary, he felt very bad for them and feared that they might be punished by Hashem if they did not do teshuvah. Therefore, he took upon himself to help his brothers repent.

The highest level of teshuvah occurs when the transgressor is faced with an identical situation and is able to resist (Rambam, Teshuvah 2:1). Yosef, therefore, waited till the entire scenario would be repeated.

When the brothers came to Egypt, he insisted that they bring down their half-brother Binyamin. At the meal he showed favoritism to Binyamin by giving him a bigger gift, hoping to arouse jealousy in their hearts. Afterwards, he plotted that Binyamin be accused of stealing the magical goblet. Binyamin was found guilty and sentenced to remain in Egypt as a slave.

The brothers did not agree that Binyamin should be punished for the alleged crime and fought vehemently for his release.

When Yosef saw his brothers’ refined character, he was convinced that they did teshuvah whole-heartedly. Consequently, he revealed himself to them and asked them to inform Yaakov of his whereabouts.

(עיטורי תורה)


"והנה עיניכם ראות ועיני אחי בנימין כי פי המדבר אליכם"
“Behold! Your eyes see, as do the eyes of my brother Binyamin, that it is my mouth that is speaking to you.” (45:12)

QUESTION: Rashi explains that Yosef told his brothers, “You can believe that I am your brother because I am now speaking to you in Lashon Hakodesh — Hebrew.”

Great men and kings speak many languages fluently, including Lashon Hakodesh. How did Yosef’s knowledge of Lashon Hakodesh prove his relationship to his brothers? Furthermore, Yosef held long conversations with his brothers when they came to Egypt and a person can usually be identified through his voice. Why didn’t the brothers recognize Yosef all this time?

ANSWER: You can only recognize someone through his voice in the language you are accustomed to hearing him speak. When the person speaks another language, his accent is different and it is difficult to identify him.

Before revealing himself, Yosef never spoke Lashon Hakodesh to his brothers. They spoke Lashon Hakodesh and he answered them in Egyptian. Now, for the first time, he spoke to them in Lashon Hakodesh. He therefore said to them, “If you listen carefully to my voice, you will recognize that I am Yosef, because I sound the same as I did many years ago when I regularly spoke to you Lashon Hakodesh.”

(פון אונזער אלטען אוצר בשם ר' חיים מצאנז זצ"ל)


"והגדתם לאבי את כל כבודי במצרים"
“And you shall tell my father of all my glory in Egypt.” (45:13)

QUESTION: How could a tzaddik like Yosef speak in a manner of personal pride?

ANSWER: When Yosef was brought down to Egypt, he was sold to Potifar as a slave. One day, Potifar’s wife approached him to sin with her. Suddenly, the countenance of his father appeared before him, and Yosef flatly refused her. She retaliated by slandering him to her husband, and Yosef was incarcerated. In prison he met the butler and the baker, and interpreted their dreams. Afterwards, Pharaoh dreamed, and at the recommendation of the butler, Yosef was brought in to interpret the dream. Pharaoh was greatly impressed by him and appointed him viceroy.

Had Yosef yielded to Potifar’s wife, the entire sequence of events would not have taken place and he would not have risen to glory. Consequently, he told his brothers to relate, that “le’avi” — “thanks to my father, who appeared to me in Egypt” — “et kol kevodi” — “I merited all my glory.” Thus he praised his father, not himself.

(ר' ישעי' מושקאט ז"ל)


"וינשק לכל אחיו ויבך עלהם"
“He kissed all his brothers and cried upon them.” (45:15)

QUESTION: The word “aleihem” — “upon them” — appears superfluous?

ANSWER: In the Musaf prayer of Yom Kippur, there is a section dedicated to the Asarah Harugei Malchut — ten Torah giants who were killed due to a heavenly decree. The Roman king called them and inquired, “What is the law regarding one who kidnaps a person and sells him as a slave?” They answered, “According to Biblical law, the perpetrator should be put to death.” “If so,” the king said sternly, “this punishment should have been meted out to the brothers who kidnapped Yosef and sold him into captivity!” The Rabbis were unable to offer an explanation, and the king declared, “Ten eminent sages will be put to death in place of those who participated in the kidnapping and selling of Yosef.”

When Yosef revealed himself to his brothers, he kissed them all and was moved to tears. Moreover, he also cried because of “aleihem” (עלהם), which is an acronym for "עתידים להיות הרוגי מלכות" — “There will be ten martyrs.” He saw through Ruach Hakodesh — Divine inspiration — that in the future ten great sages would be slain by the Roman government, because he was sold.

(קרבן העני)


"והקל נשמע בית פרעה לאמר באו אחי יוסף וייטב בעיני פרעה ובעיני עבדיו"
“The news was heard in Pharaoh’s house, saying, ‘Yosef’s brothers have come!’ And it was pleasing in the eyes of Pharaoh and in the eyes of his servants.” (45:16)

QUESTION: Why were Pharaoh and his servants so happy that Yosef’s brothers had arrived?

ANSWER: After Pharaoh dreamed his strange dreams, the butler told him that in jail he had met a young Jewish boy who was also a slave. Rashi explains: The butler cautioned Pharaoh that though he might find the boy to be a genius, in the laws of Egypt it is written that one who is a slave cannot become a king and is not permitted to wear royal garb.

Pharaoh was so impressed with Yosef that he decided to violate the laws of Egypt. Despite the protest of the people, he permitted Yosef to dress royally and appointed him viceroy.

When Pharaoh and his servants heard that Yosef’s brothers arrived, they were very happy, because it then became known that Yosef was a member of a royal family. His great-grandfather, Avraham, was crowned as leader by the nations of the world (Rashi, 14:17), and his grandfather, Yitzchak, was also very famous and had dealings with Avimelech the king of the Philistines.

Thus, they were no longer ashamed for dressing Yosef royally and appointing him a ruler over Egypt.

(שער בת רבים)

* * *

Alternatively, Pharaoh knew that Yosef was a stranger in the land of Egypt. Usually, when someone is alone without his family, he is not in the best of spirits and does not function to the best of his ability. Pharaoh figured that once Yosef had found his family he would cheer up and do even more for Egypt than previously. Therefore, to make Yosef feel comfortable, he let him invite his brothers to move to Egypt, realizing that in the long run the land of Egypt would benefit from Yosef’s resulting improved disposition.


"ולבנימן נתן שלש מאות כסף"
“To Binyamin he gave 300 pieces of silver.” (45:22)

QUESTION: Why did he give 300 pieces of silver only to Binyamin and not to any of the other brothers?

ANSWER: According to an opinion in the Gemara (Gittin 43a), when one sells a Jew as a slave to a non-Jew, he is fined to redeem him for up to 100 times his value. In the Torah we find a slave to be valued at 30 silver pieces (Shemot 21:32). Since Yosef was sold as a slave to an Egyptian family, it would cost as much as 3000 silver pieces to redeem him.

Since 10 brothers played a part in his becoming a slave, each one would have to pay 300 silver pieces. Consequently, when each of the brothers was deprived of 300 silver pieces, it was as though they paid their fine. Binyamin took no part whatsoever in the selling, so Yosef gave him 300 silver pieces.

(חיד"א בשם רוקח)


"ולאביו שלח כזאת עשרה חמרים...ועשר אתנת"
“To his father he sent as follows: ten male donkeys...and ten female donkeys.” (45:23)

QUESTION: The word “kezot” (כזאת) — “as follows” — seems extra?

ANSWER: When Pharaoh heard of Yosef’s family and his patriarchal father Yaakov, he was greatly impressed. He immediately ordered Yosef to arrange for their immediate transport from Canaan to Egypt and as a gift, he told him to load their animals with grain.

Seeing Pharaoh’s inspiration, Yosef, too, decided to send a gift to his father “kezot” — in a similar quantity. Since Pharaoh loaded the brothers’ ten donkeys with grain, he, too, sent his own gift of ten laden male and ten laden female donkeys, all laden with grain and food.

Pharaoh only loaded ten donkeys although Yosef had eleven brothers, because when Shimon was arrested, the brothers took his donkey with food back to Yaakov. Thus, on the second trip down to Egypt together with Binyamin, there were only ten brothers riding ten donkeys.

(לקוטי שיחות חלק י')


"עשרה חמרים נשאים מטוב מצרים"
“Ten donkeys laden with the best of Egypt.”(45:23)

QUESTION: Rashi explains that he sent him “yayin yashan — “old wine.” Why old wine?

ANSWER: The words “yayin yashan” (יין ישן) add up to the numerical value of 430. Yosef was hinting that the Egyptian exile, counting from the Brit Bein Habetarim (at which time Avraham was first told of it), would last for a total of 430 years (Shemot 12:40).

(מהר"ל, גבורות ד')


"ויגדו לו לאמר עוד יוסף חי וכי הוא משל בכל ארץ מצרים"
“And they told him, saying: ‘Yosef is yet alive, and that he is ruler over all the land of Egypt.’” (45:26)

QUESTION: Undoubtedly, the blow which disrupted Yaakov’s tranquil life and left him lachrymose was the notification of the tragedy that befell his most cherished son, Yosef. Thus, we can well imagine the exaltation and pleasure he now experienced upon hearing the words “od Yosef chai” — “Yosef is yet alive.” Why did they add that “he is ruler over all the land of Egypt”? Surely, for a father who yearned so deeply for his lost son, no position, regardless of its greatness, could be of any bearing in comparison to Yosef’s life.

ANSWER: The sons of Yaakov understood very well the feeling of their father. They realized, that to merely say “Yosef is yet alive” would not convey much. Many a Yosef who is torn away from Jewish surroundings can be said to live — technically speaking — but not within the Jewish interpretation of that word. Many descendants of Yaakov live in an Egypt — Mitzraim (which can be pronounced “meitzarim” — the limitations and boundaries of the mundane dominating society), but the price of that living is often death, spiritually speaking.

The sons of Yaakov therefore hastened to add that “he is ruler over all the land of Egypt” — “Egypt is not ruler over Yosef — Yosef is ruler over the land of Egypt. He did not permit the environment to influence him.”

(הרב דוד שי' הולונדער)


"וידברו אליו את כל דברי יוסף אשר דבר אלהם...ותחי רוח יעקב אביהם"
“And they told him all the words of Yosef which he had said to them...and the spirit of Yaakov their father revived.” (45:27)

QUESTION: What more did they tell Yaakov that he then believed them?

ANSWER: Yaakov was accustomed to mentioning Hashem’s name when he spoke (Rashi, 27:21). He would say, “Baruch Hashem” or “im yirtze Hashem,” and give Him credit for everything. Yaakov also taught Yosef to speak the same way.

When Yosef spoke to his brothers, he said: “Hurry, go to my father and say to him 'כה אמר בנך יוסף שמני אלקים לאדון לכל מצרים' — ‘So says your son Yosef: Hashem made me a ruler over Egypt.’ ” However, when the brothers returned they told Yaakov that Yosef instructed them to convey a message that "עוד יוסף חי וכי הוא משל בכל ארץ מצרים" — “Yosef is alive and he rules over the entire Egypt.” Yaakov listened carefully and could not believe that Yosef was alive because this was not Yosef’s way of speaking.

Afterwards, when "וידברו אליו" — they said to him — "את כל דברי יוסף אשר דבר אלהם" — “all the words of Yosef [exactly the way] he spoke to them,” that Hashem made him ruler, then Yaakov recognized Yosef’s style of speaking and believed that Yosef was alive.

(פרדס יוסף)


"ויגדו לו לאמר עוד יוסף חי וכי הוא משל בכל ארץ מצרים ויפג לבו כי לא האמין להם, וידברו אליו את כל דברי יוסף...וירא את העגלות...ותחי רוח יעקב...ויאמר...רב עוד "יוסף בני חי"
“They told him, saying, ‘Yosef is yet alive and he is the ruler over all the land of Egypt.’ Yaakov’s heart became faint because he did not believe them. Then they told him all the words of Yosef and he saw the wagons; the spirit of Yaakov revived and he said, ‘It is enough. My son Yosef is yet alive.’” (45:26-28)

QUESTION: 1) The word “leimor” (לאמר)means to say — tell — to someone else. What did they want Yaakov to say?

2) The word “od” (עוד) — “yet” — seems superfluous. Should not the text just said, "ויגידו לו יוסף חי" — “they told him Yosef is alive”?

3) When Yaakov spoke of Yosef, he called him “my son.” Why didn’t the brothers say, “Yosef your son” or “Yosef our brother”?

ANSWER: When the brothers returned from Egypt after finding Yosef alive, they were afraid to tell Yaakov. They feared that if they said outright that Yosef was alive, Yaakov might, G‑d forbid, become ill from the shock. To prepare Yaakov, they told him a story: “In Egypt, we saw something very strange. We always thought that our brother was the only Yosef in the world. However, in Egypt we met the viceroy who is in control of the entire country, and it was amazing to learn that his name was also ‘Yosef.’ We are extremely puzzled; can you tell us something which would explain this phenomenon?”

The dialogue recorded in the Torah goes as follows: “vayagidu lo” — “they told him the entire story” — “leimor” — “and asked him to tell them how to explain the fact that” — “od Yosef chai” — “there is another person alive with the name ‘Yosef,’ ” and “hu mosheil bechol Eretz Mitzraim” — “he rules over the entire land of Egypt.”

Yaakov listened carefully, and his heart became faint because he was unable to believe that there was an Egyptian with the Hebrew name of “Yosef.” While the brothers continued talking about the “Yosef ” they met, Yaakov noticed the wagons that Yosef sent. He immediately proclaimed to his children “Rav” — “Enough — you should know that ‘od Yosef’ — ‘the other Yosef’ — whom you are telling me of, is no one else than ‘b’ni’ — ‘my son.’ I now realize that ‘chai’ — ‘he is alive’ — and I will make every effort to see him before I die.”

(אמרי יהודה)


"וירא את העגלות אשר שלח יוסף...ותחי רוח יעקב אביהם"
“He saw the wagons Yosef sent... and the spirit of Yaakov revived.” (45:27)

QUESTION: What was it about the wagons that impressed Yaakov so much?

ANSWER: According to Da’at Zekeinim Miba’alei Hatosafot, before Yaakov parted with Yosef he was teaching him about the offerings the nesi’im — heads of Tribes — would bring for the chanukat hamishkan — dedication of the Tabernacle.

At the end of Parshat Naso there is a detailed description of the offerings of the 12 nesi’im. Each one brought an identical gift. The only exception involved the wagons. Though each nasi was wealthy in his own right, each shared the expense of a wagon with a partner.

When Yaakov taught this subject to Yosef, he explained to him that this is how the nesi’im demonstrated unity (see Sforno).

When Yaakov saw the wagons, he understood that Yosef was sending him the message, “Though my brothers seemingly wronged me, I am united with them and carry no grudge against them.” This revived Yaakov’s spirit and made him proud of his son.

(מיוסד על עיטורי תורה)


"עוד יוסף בני חי אלכה ואראנו בטרם אמות"
“My son Yosef is alive; I will go to see him before I die.” (45:28)

QUESTION: Why the apparently superfluous words “od” — “still” — and “beterem amut” — “before I die"? It would be sufficient to say, “my son Yosef is alive; I will go to see him.”

ANSWER: Yosef lived together with his father till the age of 17, when his jealous brothers sold him to Egypt. Then, for 13 years, he experienced many ordeals and at the age of 30 he became the viceroy. From the age of 30 until his death at the age of 110, he was blessed with comfort, honor, and glory.

The word “od” (עוד) has the numerical value of 80. Yaakov was hinting that, though Yosef suffered much, he could look forward to living 80 more years of accomplishments and tranquility.

Similarly, “beterem” ((בטרם in mispar katan (single numerals — 2,9,2,4) is 17. Yaakov declared prophetically that he would again be with Yosef for a period of 17 years before he left this world.

(בית יעקב ר' יעקב הכהן ז"ל טראב – מסלתון ראב"ד ביירות)


"אנכי ארד עמך מצרימה ואנכי אעלך גם עלה"
“[Hashem said,] ‘I will go down with you to Egypt, and I will surely bring you up again.’” (46:4)

QUESTION: It would be sufficient to say, Anochi a’elcha” — “I will bring you up.” Do not the words “gam aloh” appear to be superfluous?

ANSWER: On the remez level of Torah interpretation there is a system known as at-bash." The letter "ת" is exchanged for an "א", the "ש" for a "ב" etc. Thus, the letters of the word “gam” (גם) are interchanged with the letters "ר" and "י", and the letters of “aloh” (עלה) with the letters ז- כ- צ"."

Hashem told Yaakov, “Do not fear to go down to Egypt; I will descend with you and bring you up after your children will be there (ר-י) גם, a total of 210 years. From the 210 years they will only be enslaved for 116 years (See Shemot 6:16, Rashi). In the 117th year, equaling ",ז-כ-צ" there will be "עלה" — the coming up from Egypt.

* * *

Hashem also assured Yaakov that He would alleviate their bondage, because “Imo anochi betzarah” — “I am with him in distress” (Psalms 91:15). The word “imo” (עמו) is equal to 116. During the 116 years that they would endure the anguish of Egyptian bondage, Hashem Himself would be there with them, and this would be a source of spiritual courage and strength.

(נחל קדומים)


"ויאמרו אל פרעה לגור בארץ באנו כי אין מרעה לצאן אשר לעבדיך כי כבד הרעב בארץ כנען"
“And they said to Pharaoh: ‘We have come to sojourn in the land; for there is no grazing for your servants’ flocks, for the famine is severe in the land of Canaan.’” (47:4)

QUESTION: Why did they not tell him that they came to Egypt because they had no food for themselves to eat?

ANSWER: The brothers wanted to convey to Pharaoh how intense the famine was in Canaan. They told him: “Grass is usually reserved for the flock. People consume fruits and vegetables. The situation is so critical in Canaan that people are eating grass and there is no grazing left for the flock.”

(רבינו בחיי)


ויאמר פרעה אל יעקב כמה ימי שני חייך ויאמר...ימי שני מגורי שלשים ומאת שנה מעט ורעים היו...ולא השיגו את ימי שני חיי אבתי בימי מגוריהם
“Pharaoh said to Yaakov, ‘How many are the days of the years of your life?’ Yaakov answered Pharaoh, ‘The days of the years of my sojourns have been a hundred and thirty years. Few and bad have been the days of the years of my life, and they have not reached the life spans of my forefathers in the days of their sojourns.’” (47:8-9)

QUESTION: Why was Pharaoh so impolite as to ask Yaakov his age?

ANSWER: In Egypt there was very little rain, and they relied heavily on the Nile river which would overflow and irrigate the fields. During the years of famine, the Nile river did not overflow and, thus, the fields did not produce. When Yaakov arrived, the Nile began to overflow and the famine ended. Pharaoh was, therefore, thrilled with Yaakov’s arrival. At the same time he was also was concerned, because Yaakov looked very old, and he feared that the blessing would not last long. Thus, out of anxiety, he asked Yaakov his age.

Yaakov understood Pharaoh’s thoughts and therefore told him, “Do not worry: though I look very old, in reality I am quite young and have many more years ahead of me before reaching the life span of my parents.”

(כלי יקר)


"ויאמר יוסף אל העם הן קניתי אתכם היום ואת אדמתכם לפרעה"
“Yosef said to the people, ‘I have bought you today and your land for Pharaoh.’” (47:23)

QUESTION: Shouldn’t the wording in the pasuk be, “I bought you and your land today for Pharaoh?”

ANSWER: When Yosef was appointed as the viceroy of Egypt. Pharaoh told him, “You shall be over my house and by your command shall all my people be sustained; only [by] the throne shall I outrank you” (41:40). When the famine started in Egypt, the people used their savings to buy food. Yosef brought the money into Pharaoh’s palace (47:14).

When the people ran out of money, they offered Yosef their livestock for food. As the famine worsened, again they approached Yosef and begged him to give them food for their bodies and land. Thus, they and their land would become Pharaoh’s possessions.

The Torah tells us, “Yosef bought all the land of Egypt for Pharaoh because the Egyptians sold their land and the land now became Pharaoh’s” (47:20).

Since Yosef was in full command and had the power to do whatever he wanted, he also bought the people — but not for Pharaoh. Yosef decided that he would buy the people for himself, so that they would become his property. Therefore, Yosef said to the Egyptians, “Behold I have bought you today (for myself) and your land (I bought) for Pharaoh.”

* * *

When the Egyptians felt intense hunger, they came to Pharaoh demanding bread. Pharaoh advised them to go to Yosef and do whatever he commanded. Rashi explains that the people complained to Pharaoh that Yosef insisted that they be circumcised. Pharaoh told them to listen to him (41:55). Why would Yosef make such a strange request of the famine-stricken people?

According to halachah, when a Jew buys a non-Jew as a slave, he is required to have him circumcised. Pharaoh, therefore told them, “Since Yosef had permission to do whatever he wanted, and bought only your land for me but kept you (the people) for himself as slaves, he was right in requesting that you be circumcised.”


"וישב ישראל בארץ מצרים בארץ גשן ויאחזו בה"
“The Jews settled in the land of Egypt, in the land of Goshen, and they acquired property there.” (47:27)

QUESTION: Why was Goshen so desirable to the Jewish people?

ANSWER: When Avraham came to Eygypt, Pharoah took Sarah not just as a concubine, but also for a wife (12:19). Therefore, he gave her a ketubah — marriage contract —stating that in the event she would survive him, all his possessions and everything he owned would be hers for the remainder of her life. In addition, he unconditionally gave her the land of Goshen to be hers forever. Since the land belonged to our matriarch Sarah, it was of sentimental value to the Jewish people and they all chose to live there and acquire it.

(פרקי דרבי אליעזר, פכ"ז)