Introduction

As mentioned above,1 the analysis of Rashi’s commentary on the Torah was one of the Rebbe’s primary areas of focus at his Shabbos farbrengens. The Rebbe understood Rashi as composing his commentary so that a five-year-old beginning the study of Chumash could understand the straightforward meaning of the words of the Torah. In addition to using that perspective to explain many of Rashi’s commentaries, he also embarked on a frontier relatively untouched in the realm of Torah scholarship, explaining why Rashi did not comment on a problematic point in the Torah.

His approach was that if there is a point that seemingly requires explanation according to the Torah’s straightforward meaning and yet Rashi does not focus on it, this is proof that, according to Rashi’s understanding, the matter is so clear that it does not require explanation or can be understood based on Rashi’s previous explanations. The Rebbe would clarify why, according to Rashi’s conception, it was unnecessary to comment and how the narrative could be understood on that basis.

The sichah to follow is a classic example of such an explanation. It begins with an obvious question: Why, after becoming viceroy in Egypt, did Yosef not contact his father? Many other Torah commentaries offer explanations for this issue, but Rashi does not address it at all. After thoroughly analyzing the resolutions proposed by other commentaries and – respectfully, but methodically – elucidating why these resolutions do not fit Rashi’s approach, the Rebbe offers an explanation of his own that explains why the answer is obvious from a commentary Rashi had given previously.

An Obvious Question

As explained on many occasions,2 in his commentary on the Torah, Rashi sought to explain every point that is unclear according to the simple, straightforward meaning of the Torah. If there is a point that seemingly requires explanation according to the Torah’s straightforward meaning and yet Rashi does not focus on it, this is proof that, according to hisunderstanding, the matter is so clear that it does not require explanation3 or can be understood based on Rashi’s previous explanations.

א

דֻּבַּר כַּמָּה פְּעָמִים47 שֶׁדַּרְכּוֹ שֶׁל רַשִׁ"י בְּפֵרוּשׁוֹ עַל הַתּוֹרָה לְפָרֵשׁ כָּל דָּבָר הַקָּשֶׁה וּבִלְתִּי מוּבָן בִּפְשׁוּטוֹ שֶׁל מִקְרָא. וְהָעִנְיָנִים הַדּוֹרְשִׁים לִכְאוֹרָה בֵּאוּר (בְּפֵרוּשׁ הַפָּשׁוּט שֶׁל הַכְּתוּבִים) וְאֵין רַשִׁ"י מְפָרְשָׁם, הֲרֵי זֶה גוּפָא הוֹכָחָה שֶׁלְּדַעְתּוֹ שֶׁל רַשִׁ"י מוּבָנִים הֵם בְּפַשְׁטוּת וְעַד כְּדֵי כָךְ שֶׁאֵין צֹרֶךְ לְפָרְשָׁם48, אוֹ שֶׁמּוּבָנִים הֵם עַל פִּי מַה שֶּׁפֵּרֵשׁ רַשִׁ"י לִפְנֵי זֶה.

There is a point in this week’s Torah reading that raises questions about how to understand the straightforward narrative and has attracted the attention of several other leading commentaries on the Torah.4 Nevertheless, Rashi, the foremost of the commentators who focus on the Torah’s straightforward meaning, does not focus on it at all.

That point is: Yosef knew how much his father loved him. As a result, he was certainly aware of the grief and mourning his father was experiencing because of their separation. Why, then, did he not notify Yaakov that he was still alive at an earlier time?

עַל פִּי זֶה צָרִיךְ לְהָבִין תְּמִיָּה גְדוֹלָה הַמִּתְעוֹרֶרֶת בְּלִמּוּד פְּשׁוּטָן שֶׁל כְּתוּבִים בְּפַרְשָׁתֵנוּ, וְכַמָּה מִמְּפָרְשֵׁי הַתּוֹרָה עָמְדוּ עָלֶיהָ49, וְדַוְקָא רַשִׁ"י רֹאשׁ הַפַּשְׁטָנִים אֵינוֹ מֵעִיר עַל זֶה, וְהוּא: יוֹסֵף הֲרֵי יָדַע גֹּדֶל אַהֲבַת אָבִיו אֵלָיו, וּבְמֵילָא – הֵבִין גֹּדֶל צַעַר אָבִיו וְאֶבְלוֹ עָלָיו, וּמַדּוּעַ לֹא הוֹדִיעַ לוֹ שֶׁעוֹדֶנּוּ חַי?!

The question arises particularly with regard to the time mentioned in our Torah reading. The previous Torah reading, Parshas Vayeishev,relates that Yosef was brought down to Egypt, sold as a slave, and then imprisoned. It is obvious that under such circumstances, Yosef did not have the opportunity to notify his father that he was alive.5 However, at the time spoken about in our Torah reading, Yosef had become the viceroy of Egypt and could do anything he wanted. Why did he leave his father to suffer and mourn rather than notify him via one of the caravans that traveled to Canaan or by sending a messenger?6Doing so would certainly have given his father a new lease on life.7

וּתְמִיָּה זוֹ הִיא בַּנּוֹגֵעַ לְהַזְּמַן אוֹדוֹתוֹ מְדֻבָּר בְּפַרְשָׁתֵנוּ דַּוְקָא: בְּפָרָשַׁת וַיֵּשֶׁב מְסֻפָּר שֶׁהֵבִיאוּ אֶת יוֹסֵף לְמִצְרַיִם וּמְכָרוּהוּ לְעֶבֶד
וְאַחַר כָּךְ נְתָנוּהוּ בְּבֵית הַסֹּהַר. וּמוּבָן שֶׁלֹּא הָיָה בְּאֶפְשָׁרִיּוּת שֶׁלּוֹ לְהוֹדִיעַ לְאָבִיו שֶׁהוּא חַי50. אָמְנָם בִּזְמַן דְּפַרְשָׁתֵנוּ שֶׁנַּעֲשָׂה מִשְׁנֶה לְמֶלֶךְ, וְהָרְשׁוּת בְּיָדוֹ לַעֲשׂוֹת כְּכָל אֲשֶׁר יִרְצֶה, אֵינוֹ מוּבָן לָמָּה יַנִּיחַ אֶת אָבִיו בְּצַעַר וַאֲבֵלוּת וְלֹא הוֹדִיעוֹ עַל יְדֵי שַׁיָּרוֹת הַהוֹלְכוֹת לִכְנַעַן (אוֹ עַל יְדֵי שָׁלִיחַ)51 שֶׁהוּא חַי, וִיחַיֶּה אֶת נֶפֶשׁ אָבִיו52.

Was Punishment the Reason?

On the surface, it is possible to say that this question can be resolved based on the explanation given by Rashi previously, in Parshas Vayeishev,8regardingwhy Yaakov had to mourn for his son for such an extended period of time: “22 years elapsed from the time Yosef was separated from Yaakov until Yaakov descended to Egypt,… corresponding to the 22 years that Yaakov did not fulfill the mitzvah of honoring his parents.”

ב

לִכְאוֹרָה הָיָה אֶפְשָׁר לוֹמַר שֶׁתְּמִיהָה זוֹ מְתֹרֶצֶת עַל פִּי מַה שֶּׁפֵּרֵשׁ רַשִׁ"י לִפְנֵי זֶה בְּפָרָשַׁת וַיֵּשֶׁב53. דְּהַטַּעַם שֶׁיַּעֲקֹב הִתְאַבֵּל עַל בְּנוֹ יָמִים רַבִּים "כ"ב שָׁנָה מִשֶּׁפֵּרֵשׁ מִמֶּנּוּ עַד שֶׁיָּרַד לְמִצְרַיִם כו' כְּנֶגֶד כ"ב שָׁנָה שֶׁלֹּא קִיֵּם יַעֲקֹב כִּבּוּד אָב וָאֵם כו'".

It could be said that Yosef did not send messengers to inform his father that he was still alive before these 22 years passed because Yaakov was being punished for that duration of time for not honoring his parents.

וְלָכֵן לֹא שָׁלַח יוֹסֵף לְהוֹדִיעַ לְאָבִיו שֶׁעוֹדֶנּוּ חַי קֹדֶם שֶׁיַּעַבְרוּ כ"ב שָׁנָה, כִּי עֹנֶשׁ דְּיַעֲקֹב הָיָה צָרִיךְ לִהְיוֹת כ"ב שָׁנָה כְּנֶגֶד כ"ב שָׁנָה שֶׁלֹּא קִיֵּם כִּבּוּד אָב וָאֵם.

This, however, is not a satisfactory resolution of Yosef’s conduct because:

אֲבָל אִי אֶפְשָׁר לְתָרֵץ כֵּן הַנְהָגָתוֹ שֶׁל יוֹסֵף: כִּי

a) How did Yosef know that Yaakov was to be punished for 22 years9 for not honoring his parents?10 And even if one were to say that he knew about that decree,

א) מִנַּיִן יָדַע יוֹסֵף שֶׁעַל יַעֲקֹב לְקַבֵּל עֹנֶשׁ כ"ב שָׁנָה54 עַל זֶה שֶׁלֹּא קִיֵּם כִּבּוּד אָב וָאֵם55. וְגַם אִם תִּמְצֵי לוֹמַר שֶׁיָּדַע עַל־דְּבַר זֶה, הֲרֵי:

b) he could have informed Yaakov that he was alive without disclosing his location until the 22 years passed. Thus, Yaakov would be punished by being separated from Yosef for the 22 years during which he lived apart from Yitzchak.11However, Yaakov would not suffer the agony of thinking that Yosef was no longer alive.

ב) הָיָה יָכוֹל לְהוֹדִיעוֹ שֶׁהוּא חַי וְלֹא יוֹדִיעַ לוֹ מְקוֹם מוֹשָׁבוֹ עַד שֶׁיַּעַבְרוּ הַכ"ב שׁנה, וְיֵעָנֵשׁ בִּפְרִידָתוֹ כְּנֶגֶד כ"ב שָׁנָה שֶׁפֵּרֵשׁ מִיִּצְחָקט*.

c) Most importantly, the above explanation does not resolve Yosef’s conduct. Even if it was decreed from Heaven that Yaakov was to be punished for 22 years for not honoring his parents, surely that does not grant Yosef permission to punish his father by not informing him12 that he was alive.13 To cite a parallel: It is not logical to say that Yaakov’s sons were permitted – or even obligated – to sell Yosef into slavery so that his dreams would be fulfilled and Yaakov would be punished.

ג) וְעִקָּר: עִנְיָן הַנַּ"ל אֵינוֹ מְיַשֵּׁב כְּלָל הַנְהָגָתוֹ שֶׁל יוֹסֵף, כִּי גַם אִם נִגְזַר עַל יַעֲקֹב עֹנֶשׁ מִן הַשָּׁמַיִם עַל שֶׁלֹּא נָהַג כִּבּוּד אָב וָאֵם כ"ב שָׁנָה, הֲרֵי פָּשׁוּט שֶׁאֵין זֶה נוֹתֵן רְשׁוּת לְיוֹסֵף לְהַעֲנִישׁ אֶת אָבִיו עַל יְדֵי שֶׁלֹּא יוֹדִיעוֹ56 שֶׁהוּא חַי57, וְדֻגְמָא לְזֶה: אֵין מָקוֹם לוֹמַר שֶׁהַשְּׁבָטִים הָיוּ מֻתָּרִים אוֹ גַם מְחֻיָּבִים לִמְכּוֹר אֶת יוֹסֵף – בִּשְׁבִיל שֶׁיִּתְקַיְּמוּ חֲלוֹמוֹתָיו וְיִתְקַיֵּם עֹנֶשׁ יַעֲקֹב!

Why Wasn’t Yaakov Told?

The above questions can be resolved based on another statement by Rashi in Parshas Vayeishev14that requires clarification. Rashi explains why the Holy One, blessed be He, did not reveal to Yaakov that Yosef was alive as follows:

Why didn’t the Holy One, blessed be He, reveal it to him? Because Yaakov’s sons issued a ban of ostracism against and cursed anyone who would reveal the matter to Yaakov and they had the Holy One, blessed be He, join together with them. Yitzchak, however, knew that Yosef was alive; nevertheless, he did not tell Yaakov, for he said, “How can I reveal it to him when the Holy One, blessed be He, does not desire to reveal it to him?”15

ג

וּבֵאוּר עִנְיָן זֶה יוּבַן בְּהַקְדִּים דִּבְרֵי רַשִׁ"י בְּפָרָשַׁת וַיֵּשֶׁב58 הַדּוֹרְשִׁים בֵּאוּר: הַטַּעַם לָמָּה לֹא גִלָּה הַקָּדוֹשׁ בָּרוּךְ הוּא לְיַעֲקֹב שֶׁיּוֹסֵף חַי, פֵּרֵשׁ רַשִׁ"י: "לְפִי שֶׁהֶחֱרִימוּ (הַשְּׁבָטִים) וְקִלְּלוּ אֶת כָּל מִי שֶׁיְּגַלֶּה וְשִׁתְּפוּ לְהַקָּדוֹשׁ בָּרוּךְ הוּא עִמָּהֶם (וּמַמְשִׁיךְ) אֲבָל יִצְחָק הָיָה יוֹדֵעַ שֶׁהוּא חַי אָמַר הַאֵיךְ אֲגַלֶּה וְהַקָּדוֹשׁ בָּרוּךְ הוּא אֵינוֹ רוֹצֶה לְגַלּוֹת לוֹ"59.

It is necessary to understand: To whom did this ban of ostracism and curse apply? It cannot be said that the brothers issued the ban of ostracism and curse against anyone who would reveal the matter to Yaakov – i.e., that the ban of ostracism applied to anyone in the world who would reveal the matter to Yaakov16 – for if so:

a) The continuation of Rashi’s statement – “Yitzchak, however, knew… but said, ‘How can I reveal it to him?’” – requires explanation. If the ban of ostracism applied universally, it would have also applied to Yitzchak. Why, then, did he need a further reason not to reveal the matter if the ban already prevented him from revealing it?

b) Why was it necessary to include the Holy One, blessed be He, among those who issued the ban of ostracism? Even had G‑d not been included among them, according to the above explanation, He could not, as it were, have revealed the matter because of the ban.17

וְצָרִיךְ לְהָבִין, מִי נִתְפָּס וְעַל מִי חָל חֵרֶם וּקְלָלָה זוֹ: אֵין לְפָרֵשׁ "שֶׁהֶחֱרִימוּ וְקִלְּלוּ אֶת כָּל מִי שֶׁיְּגַלֶּה לְיַעֲקֹב" – הַיְנוּ שֶׁהַחֵרֶם חָל עַל כָּל אֶחָד וְאֶחָד בָּעוֹלָם שֶׁיְּגַלֶּה לְיַעֲקֹב60, דְּאִם כֵּן אֵינוֹ מוּבָן (א) הֶמְשֵׁךְ דִּבְרֵי רַשִׁ"י "אֲבָל יִצְחָק הָיָה יוֹדֵעַ . . אָמַר הַאֵיךְ אֲגַלֶּה כו'", דְּכֵיוָן שֶׁהַחֵרֶם חָל עַל כָּל אֶחָד וְאֶחָד, הֲרֵי גַם יִצְחָק בִּכְלַל זֶה שֶׁלֹּא לְגַלּוֹת, (ב) לָמָּה הֻצְרְכוּ לְשַׁתֵּף אֶת הַקָּדוֹשׁ בָּרוּךְ הוּא עִמָּהֶם, הֲרֵי כִּבְיָכוֹל גַּם הַקָּדוֹשׁ בָּרוּךְ הוּא אִי אֶפְשָׁר לוֹ לְגַלּוֹת מִטַּעַם זֶה61.

Therefore, it is necessary to say that the ban of ostracism applied only to those who participated in it. The words “anyone who would reveal the matter” refer to any of those who were present then and took part in issuing the ban. Accordingly, it was necessary for them to have the Holy One, blessed be He, participate. Nevertheless, the following matters still require clarification:

וְעַל כָּרְחָךְ צָרִיךְ לוֹמַר דְּהַחֵרֶם חָל רַק עַל אֵלֶּה שֶׁהִשְׁתַּתְּפוּ בְּהַחֵרֶם וּבְ"כָל מִי שֶׁיְּגַלֶּה" הַכַּוָּנָה לְכָל אֶחָד מֵאֵלּוּ הַנִּמְצָאִים בְּאוֹתוֹ מַעֲמָד וּמִשְׁתַּתְּפִים בְּהַחֵרֶם, וְלָכֵן הֻצְרְכוּ לְשַׁתֵּף אֶת הַקָּדוֹשׁ בָּרוּךְ הוּא עִמָּהֶם – אֲבָל עַל פִּי זֶה עֲדַיִן צָרִיךְ לְהָבִין:

a) Rashi quotes Yitzchak as saying, “How can I reveal it to him when the Holy One, blessed be He, does not desire to reveal it to him?” Since G‑d participated in the ban, Yitzchak should have said, “the Holy One, blessed be He, is bound by oath not to reveal the matter.”18 And if so,

א) לְשׁוֹנוֹ שֶׁל רַשִׁ"י בְּהֶמְשֵׁךְ דְּבָרָיו "אֲבָל יִצְחָק . . אָמַר הַאֵיךְ אֲגַלֶּה וְהַקָּדוֹשׁ בָּרוּךְ הוּא אֵינוֹ רוֹצֶה לְגַלּוֹת לוֹ". וְלִכְאוֹרָה הֲוָה לֵיהּ לְמֵימַר הַקָּדוֹשׁ בָּרוּךְ הוּא מֻשְׁבָּע שֶׁלֹּא לְגַלּוֹת62. וּמִכַּאן –

b) Why was Yitzchak prevented from revealing the matter to Yaakov because of the fact that G‑d did not? The reason G‑d kept Yosef’s location from Yaakov was that He was included in the ban of ostracism and He was thus prevented from doing so. However, that was not relevant to Yitzchak because he did not participate in the ban.19

ב) לָמָּה נִמְנַע יִצְחָק מִלְּגַלּוֹת לְיַעֲקֹב (מִטַּעַם שֶׁהַקָּדוֹשׁ בָּרוּךְ הוּא אֵינוֹ מְגַלֶּה לוֹ) הֲרֵי הַקָּדוֹשׁ בָּרוּךְ הוּא כִּבְיָכוֹל אִי אֶפְשָׁר לוֹ לְגַלּוֹת, מִכֵּיוָן שֶׁשִּׁתְּפוּ אוֹתוֹ בְּהַחֵרֶם, אֲבָל אֵין זֶה מוֹנֵעַ כְּלָל אֶת יִצְחָק לְגַלּוֹת לְיַעֲקֹב, כִּי הֲרֵי לֹא הָיָה מְשֻׁתָּף בְּהַחֵרֶם63.

c) Why was a ban of ostracism necessary at all? Seemingly, it should have been sufficient for all those present to agree among themselves not to reveal the matter to Yaakov. Similarly, with regard to G‑d, they could have simply prayed and requested of G‑d that He not reveal the matter.20 Why was a ban of ostracism necessary?

ג) חֵרֶם זֶה לָמָּה? – הֲרֵי מַסְפִּיק שֶׁיִּתְדַּבְּרוּ בֵּינֵיהֶם שֶׁכָּל אֵלֶּה הַנִּמְצָאִים בְּמַעֲמָד זֶה לֹא יְגַלּוּ לְיַעֲקֹב. וְעַל דֶּרֶךְ זֶה בַּנּוֹגֵעַ לְהַקָּדוֹשׁ בָּרוּךְ הוּא – לְהִתְפַּלֵּל וּלְבַקֵּשׁ שֶׁלֹּא יְגַלֶּה64, וּמַה צֹּרֶךְ בְּחֵרֶם?

d) Neither the straightforward reading of the text nor Rashi’s commentary21 mention that Yaakov’s sons released the ban of excommunication before they told Yaakov that Yosef was alive. How, then, were they able to share that news with him?

ד) לֹא מָצִינוּ בִּפְשׁוּטוֹ שֶׁל מִקְרָא (וּבְפֵרוּשׁ רַשִׁ"י)65 שֶׁהַשְּׁבָטִים הִתִּירוּ אֶת הַחֵרֶם קֹדֶם שֶׁהוֹדִיעוּ לְיַעֲקֹב שֶׁיּוֹסֵף חַי?

Did G‑d Consent to Join the Brothers?

Some of the supercommentaries22 interpret Rashi’s intent based on the Midrash Tanchuma23Rashi’s apparent source – which states that Yaakov’s sons said:

“Let us issue a ban of ostracism among ourselves that none of us will tell Yaakov our father.”

Yehudah told them: “Reuven isn’t here, and a ban of ostracism is not viable unless ten participate.”

What did they do? They made the Holy One, blessed be He, a partner in the ban of ostracism so that He would not tell their father…. And the Holy One, blessed be He, as well… did not tell because of the ban.”

These supercommentaries explain that Yaakov’s sons made G‑d a partner in the ban so that it would apply to them, because a ban of ostracism is not viable unless ten participate, but it did not prevent Him from revealing the matter.24Nevertheless, G‑d did not reveal the matter because He did not desire to treat the ban of ostracism they issued lightly.

ד

וְהִנֵּה יֵשׁ מְפָרְשִׁים66 כַּוָּנַת רַשִׁ"י עַל דֶּרֶךְ הַמִּדְרָשׁ תַּנְחוּמָא67 – מְקוֹר פֵּרוּשׁ רַשִׁ"י – דְּאִיתָא שָׁם: אָמְרוּ נַחֲרִים בֵּינֵינוּ שֶׁלֹּא יַגִּיד אֶחָד מִמֶּנּוּ לְיַעֲקֹב אָבִינוּ אָמַר לָהֶם יְהוּדָא רְאוּבֵן אֵינוֹ כַּאן וְאֵין הַחֵרֶם מִתְקַיֵּם אֶלָּא בַּעֲשָׂרָה מֶה עָשׂוּ שִׁתְּפוּ לְהַקָּדוֹשׁ בָּרוּךְ הוּא בְּאוֹתוֹ הַחֵרֶם שֶׁלֹּא יַגִּיד לַאֲבִיהֶם . . וְאַף הַקָּדוֹשׁ בָּרוּךְ הוּא . . לֹא הִגִּיד מִפְּנֵי הַחֵרֶם".

This explanation clarifies why they made G‑d a partner in the ban – because ten participants were required. It also clarifies the concluding words of Rashi’s commentary, that “the Holy One, blessed be He, does not desire to reveal it to him” – Rashi did not state that G‑d “was bound by oath not to reveal the matter,” because G‑d was not bound by the ban, as stated above. G‑d did not reveal the matter to Yaakov only because “He did not desire to.” Accordingly, Yitzchak also said, “How can I reveal the matter to him when the Holy One, blessed be He, does not desire to reveal it to him?

– וּמְבָאֲרִים, שֶׁשִּׁתְּפוּ לְהַקָּדוֹשׁ בָּרוּךְ הוּא בַּעֲשִׂיַּת וַחֲלוֹת הַחֵרֶם עֲלֵיהֶם, שֶׁאֵינוֹ מִתְקַיֵּם אֶלָּא בַּעֲשָׂרָה, וְאֵינוֹ עִנְיָן כְּלָל לְזֶה שֶׁהַקָּדוֹשׁ בָּרוּךְ הוּא לֹא יְגַלֶּה אֶת הַדָּבָר68. וְהַקָּדוֹשׁ בָּרוּךְ הוּא לֹא גִלָּה, מִכֵּיוָן שֶׁאֵינוֹ מֵקִיל בְּחֵרֶם שֶׁלָּהֶם.

וְעַל פִּי זֶה מְבֹאָר לָמָּה שִׁתְּפוּ לְהַקָּדוֹשׁ בָּרוּךְ הוּא בְּהַחֵרֶם, וּמְבֹאָר גַּם סִיּוּמוֹ שֶׁל רַשִׁ"י "וְהַקָּדוֹשׁ בָּרוּךְ הוּא אֵינוֹ רוֹצֶה לְגַלּוֹת לוֹ" (וְלֹא מֻשְׁבָּע שֶׁלֹּא לְגַלּוֹת) כִּי הַקָּדוֹשׁ בָּרוּךְ הוּא עַצְמוֹ לֹא הָיָה מִן הַנֶּאֱסָרִים בְּהַחֵרֶם (כַּנַּ"ל), וּמַה שֶּׁלֹּא גִלָּה לְיַעֲקֹב הוּא רַק מִפְּנֵי "שֶׁלֹּא רָצָה לְגַלּוֹת לוֹ", וְלָכֵן גַּם יִצְחָק אָמַר "הַאֵיךְ אֲגַלֶּה".

However, this is not a viable explanation for Rashi’s commentary because:

אָמְנָם אִי אֶפְשָׁר לְפָרֵשׁ כֵּן בְּפַשְׁטוּת פֵּרוּשׁ רַשִׁ"י כִּי

Firstly, Rashi did not explain when the ban of ostracism was issued. On the contrary, it is logical to assume that the brothers issued it after Reuven returned to them (and thus, they were ten) so that he would also be included in it. For if this were not so, Rashi would have had to explain why Reuven did not reveal the matter.

[נוֹסָף עַל זֶה שֶׁבְּפֵרוּשׁ רַשִׁ"י לֹא נִתְפָּרֵשׁ מָתַי עָשׂוּ הַחֵרֶם, וְאַדְּרַבָּא – מִסְתַּבֵּר לוֹמַר שֶׁעָשׂוּהוּ דַוְקָא לְאַחַר שֶׁחָזַר אֲלֵיהֶם רְאוּבֵן (שֶׁהָיוּ עֲשָׂרָה) בִּכְדֵי שֶׁגַּם עָלָיו יָחוּל, דְּאִם לַאו, הֲוָה לֵיהּ לְפָרֵשׁ בְּרַשִׁ"י לָמָּה לֹא גִלָּה רְאוּבֵן]

Moreover, according to the straightforward reading of the text and Rashi’s commentary, there is no allusion to the rule that a ban of ostracism does not apply unless ten participate. Were that the reason why G‑d had to be part of the ban, it would have been necessary for Rashi to explain this.

Therefore, it appears necessary to explain, as stated above, that Rashi’s intent in saying that “they had the Holy One, blessed be He, join together with them,” was that G‑d was also, as it were, forbidden because of the ban. In this case, all the above questions remain valid.

בִּפְשׁוּטוֹ שֶׁל מִקְרָא וּבְפֵרוּשׁ רַשִׁ"י אֵין כָּל רֶמֶז שֶׁאֵין הַחֵרֶם מִתְקַיֵּם אֶלָּא בַּעֲשָׂרָה, וַהֲוָה לֵיהּ לְרַשִׁ"י לְפָרְשׁוֹ. וּמֻכְרָח לִכְאוֹרָה
לְפָרֵשׁ (כַּנַּ"ל) שֶׁכַּוָּנַת רַשִׁ"י בְּ"שִׁתְּפוּ לְהַקָּדוֹשׁ בָּרוּךְ הוּא עִמָּהֶם" הַיְנוּ שֶׁגַּם הַקָּדוֹשׁ בָּרוּךְ הוּא כִּבְיָכוֹל נֶאֱסַר עַל יְדֵי זֶה. וְכָל הַקֻּשְׁיוֹת (הַנַּ"ל) בְּתָקְפָּן.

Trying to Fathom G‑d’s Intent

The supercommentaries to Rashi25 ask a further question: How did Yaakov’s sons know that the Holy One, blessed be He, agreed to take part in the ban of ostracism? Even a mortal cannot be compelled to participate in a ban of ostracism without his consent. How, then, did they include the Holy One, blessed be He, in the ban without knowing whether He consented?26 These commentaries offered several explanations for how Yaakov’s sons knew that G‑d did not want to reveal the matter to Yaakov and consented to their ban of ostracism. Among them:

ה

וְהִנֵּה בִּמְפָרְשֵׁי רַשִׁ"י69 הִקְשׁוּ עוֹד: מִנַּיִן לְהַשְּׁבָטִים שֶׁהַקָּדוֹשׁ בָּרוּךְ הוּא מַסְכִּים לְהַחֵרֶם – וַהֲרֵי גַם בָּשָׂר וָדָם אִי אֶפְשָׁר לְשַׁתֵּף אִם לֹא שֶׁיַּסְכִּים לְזֶה, וְאֵיךְ שִׁתְּפוּ לְהַקָּדוֹשׁ בָּרוּךְ הוּא מִבְּלִי שֶׁיֵּדְעוּ הַסְכָּמָתוֹ70. וּבֵאֲרוּ כַּמָּה טְעָמִים דְּיָדְעוּ הַשְּׁבָטִים שֶׁלֹּא יִרְצֶה הַקָּדוֹשׁ בָּרוּךְ הוּא לְגַלּוֹת לְיַעֲקֹב וְשֶׁיַּסְכִּים הַקָּדוֹשׁ בָּרוּךְ הוּא לְחֵרֶם שֶׁלָּהֶם:

a) This would enable the covenant bein habesarim27to be fulfilled and, in that way, Yaakov and his sons would descend to Egypt.28

b) Yaakov would be punished for the 22 years that he did not fulfill the mitzvah of honoring his father and mother.29

c) Yaakov would not curse his sons for selling Yosef.30Were he to have cursed them, the Jewish people, whose existence is dependent on the descendants of Yaakov, would have been erased from the world, Heaven forbid.31

א) בִּכְדֵי שֶׁתִּתְקַיֵּם בְּרִית בֵּין הַבְּתָרִים וְיֵרֵד יַעֲקֹב וּבָנָיו לְמִצְרַיִם71. ב) כְּדֵי שֶׁיֵּעָנֵשׁ יַעֲקֹב נֶגֶד כ"ב שָׁנָה שֶׁלֹּא קִיֵּם כִּבּוּד אָב וָאֵם72. ג) כְּדֵי שֶׁלֹּא יְקַלֵּל יַעֲקֹב אֶת בָּנָיו73 "וְנִמְצְאוּ יִשְׂרָאֵל הַתְּלוּיִים בְּזַרְעוֹ שֶׁל יַעֲקֹב בְּטֵלִים חַס וְשָׁלוֹם מִן הָעוֹלָם"74.

אֲבָל75 [נוֹסָף עַל הַקֹּשִׁי שֶׁיֶּשְׁנוֹ בְּכָל פֵּרוּשׁ בִּפְנֵי עַצְמוֹ76] אֵין לְפָרֵשׁ כֵּן כַּוָּנַת רַשִׁ"י:

However,32 in addition to the difficulties existing with each of these explanations,33 it cannot be said that this is Rashi’s intent. Rashi concludes his commentary: “Yitzchak, however, knew that Yosef was alive; nevertheless, he did not tell Yaakov, but said, ‘How can I reveal it to him when the Holy One, blessed be He, does not desire to reveal it to him?’ ” Moreover, Rashi explicitly states the reason G‑d did not want to reveal the matter: “because Yaakov’s sons issued a ban of ostracism against and cursed anyone who would reveal the matter to Yaakov and they had the Holy One, blessed be He, join together with them.” Therefore, we must say that the ban of excommunication and the curse would apply not only to one who would reveal the entire narrative of the sale of Yosef, but also to one who would reveal that Yosef was alive.34

Logically, the reasons mentioned above would only require, as it were, that G‑d not reveal the entire narrative – that Yaakov’s sons sold Yosef to a caravan of Yishmaelites and they brought him to Egypt, etc. It would, however, have been possible for G‑d to reveal to Yaakov that Yosef was alive, but not to notify him where Yosef was or what happened to him until after 22 years had passed.

Thus, when the years of famine would come and Yosef would become the viceroy, Yaakov would be forced to descend to Egypt. In this way, the covenant bein habesarim would be fulfilled, Yaakov would be punished for the 22 years that he did not fulfill the mitzvah of honoring his father and mother,35 and Yaakov would not curse his sons, because he would not suspect that they sold Yosef into slavery.36

רַשִׁ"י מַמְשִׁיךְ "אֲבָל יִצְחָק הָיָה יוֹדֵעַ שֶׁהוּא חַי אָמַר הַאֵיךְ אֲגַלֶּה וְהַקָּדוֹשׁ בָּרוּךְ הוּא אֵינוֹ רוֹצֶה לְגַלּוֹת לוֹ" – שֶׁהוּא חַי. וְהַטַּעַם לָמָּה אֵין הַקָּדוֹשׁ בָּרוּךְ הוּא רוֹצֶה לְגַלּוֹת מְפֹרָשׁ "לְפִי שֶׁהֶחֱרִימוּ וְקִלְּלוּ אֶת כָּל מִי שֶׁיְּגַלֶּה וְשִׁתְּפוּ לְהַקָּדוֹשׁ בָּרוּךְ הוּא עִמָּהֶם" וְעַל כָּרְחָךְ צָרִיךְ לוֹמַר שֶׁהַחֵרֶם וְהַקְּלָלָה חָלוּ (לֹא רַק עַל מִי שֶׁיְּגַלֶּה כָּל פָּרָשַׁת מְכִירַת יוֹסֵף, אֶלָּא) גַּם עַל מִי שֶׁיְּגַלֶּה שֶׁיּוֹסֵף חַי77. וּטְעָמִים הַנַּ"ל מַכְרִיחִים רַק שֶׁהַקָּדוֹשׁ בָּרוּךְ הוּא לֹא יְגַלֶּה כָּל סִפּוּר הַדְּבָרִים (שֶׁהַשְּׁבָטִים מְכָרוּהוּ לְאֹרְחַת יִשְׁמְעֵאלִים וְהוֹרִידוּהוּ לְמִצְרַיִם כו'), אֲבָל אֶפְשָׁר לְגַלּוֹת לְיַעֲקֹב שֶׁיּוֹסֵף חַי, וְלֹא יוֹדִיעַ לוֹ מְקוֹמוֹ וְהַקּוֹרוֹת אוֹתוֹ עַד לְאַחַר כ"ב שָׁנָה כַּאֲשֶׁר יִהְיוּ שְׁנֵי הָרָעָב וְיוֹסֵף יִהְיֶה מִשְׁנֶה לְמֶלֶךְ וְיֻכְרַח יַעֲקֹב לֵירֵד לְמִצְרַיִם – וְתִתְקַיֵּם (א) בְּרִית בֵּין הַבְּתָרִים וְגַם (ב) עָנְשׁוֹ שֶׁל יַעֲקֹב כ"ב שָׁנָה עַל שֶׁלֹּא קִיֵּם כִּבּוּד אָב וָאֵם78, (ג) וְלֹא הָיָה מְקַלֵּל אֶת בָּנָיו, כִּי לָמָּה יַחְשׁוֹד שֶׁהֵם מְכָרוּהוּ79.

How Could the Brothers Not Have Repented?

All of the above can be clarified with the preface of another puzzling phenomenon: How was it possible that not one of Yaakov’s sons was aroused to repent, confess, and tell Yaakov that they sold Yosef and he was still alive? In particular, this is troublesome since all the brothers eventually did come to regret their actions, as the Torah relates:37 “They said to one another, ‘Indeed, we are guilty because of our brother, for we witnessed the distress of his soul when he begged us....’ ”

In truth, however, this was the brothers’ intent when they issued the ban of ostracism. Even initially, they suspected that when their anger would subside, at least one of them would regret what they had done and desire to reveal it to Yaakov, thus harming the others. Therefore, they “issued a ban of ostracism against and cursed anyone who would reveal the matter to Yaakov,” so that one or several of them would not have permission to reveal the matter to Yaakov. However, it is certainly not logical to say that they issued the ban in such a manner that if they all decided to reveal the matter, then it would be forbidden for them to reveal it.38

ו

וְהַבֵּאוּר בְּכָל הַנַּ"ל יוּבַן בְּהַקְדִּים תְּמִיָּה נוֹסֶפֶת: אֵיךְ יִתָּכֵן שֶׁאַף אֶחָד מִבְּנֵי יַעֲקֹב לֹא יִתְעוֹרֵר בִּתְשׁוּבָה עַל מְכִירָתוֹ שֶׁל יוֹסֵף וְיִתְוַדֶּה וִיסַפֵּר לְיַעֲקֹב שֶׁמָּכְרוּ אֶת יוֹסֵף וְעוֹדֶנּוּ חַי. וּבִפְרָט שֶׁמָּצִינוּ בְּפַרְשָׁתֵנוּ80 שֶׁסּוֹף־סוֹף כֻּלָּם הִתְחָרְטוּ עַל זֶה "וַיֹּאמְרוּ אִישׁ אֶל אָחִיו אֲבָל אֲשֵׁמִים אֲנַחְנּו עַל אָחִינוּ אֲשֶׁר רָאִינוּ צָרַת נַפְשׁוֹ בְּהִתְחַנְנוֹ אֵלֵינוּ גו'" – אֶלָּא שֶׁזֹּאת הָיְתָה כַּוָּנָתָם בַּעֲשִׂיַּת הַחֵרֶם, הַיְנוּ שֶׁמִּתְּחִלָּה חָשְׁשׁוּ שֶׁלְּאַחֲרֵי זֶה כַּאֲשֶׁר תִּשּׁוֹךְ חֲמָתָם בְּוַדַּאי יִתְחָרֵט מִי מֵהֶם וְיִרְצֶה לְגַלּוֹת לְיַעֲקֹב (וְיִפְגַּע עַל יְדֵי זֶה בְּהַשְּׁאָר), וְלָכֵן "הֶחֱרִימוּ וְקִלְּלוּ אֶת כָּל מִי
שֶׁיְּגַלֶּה" הַיְנוּ שֶׁאֵין לְאֶחָד מֵהֶם (אוֹ לְמִקְצָתָם) רְשׁוּת לְגַלּוֹת אֶת הַדָּבָר לְיַעֲקֹב (אֲבָל בְּוַדַּאי שֶׁאֵין סְבָרָא לוֹמַר שֶׁהֶחֱרִימוּ שֶׁאֲפִלּוּ בְּאִם כֻּלָּם מֵעַצְמָם יַחְלִיטוּ לְגַלּוֹת גַּם אָז אָסוּר לָהֶם לְגַלּוֹת)81.

There was, however, still room to suspect that one – or most – of the brothers would desire to compel the others to listen to him – or them – and reveal the matter to Yaakov. See, for example, Rashi’s statement39 that the brothers said to Yehudah, “Had you told us to return him to our father, we would have listened to you;” in other words, one brother could have swayed all the others. For this reason, the brothers had G‑d participate with them in the ban of ostracism. In this way, the decision whether – and when – to reveal the matter to Yaakov would be dependent on G‑d. Even if all of them together agreed to tell Yaakov, they would not be permitted to reveal the matter and violate the ban unless G‑d joined them and consented.40

However, it cannot be said that their intent was that they included G‑d in the ban and compelled Him, as it were, not to reveal the matter, for they had no way of knowing whether He would agree to this, as explained above.41

אֲבָל עֲדַיִן יֵשׁ חֲשָׁשׁ שֶׁאֶחָד מֵהֶם (אוֹ רֻבָּם) יִרְצֶה לְהַכְרִיחַ אֶת הַשְּׁאָר לִשְׁמוֹעַ לְקוֹלוֹ וּלְגַלּוֹת לְיַעֲקֹב, וְעַל דֶּרֶךְ פֵּרוּשׁ רַשִׁ"י82 שֶׁאָמְרוּ אֶחָיו "אִלּוּ אָמַרְתָּ לַהֲשִׁיבוֹ הָיִינוּ שׁוֹמְעִים לְךָ" – לָכֵן שִׁתְּפוּ הַקָּדוֹשׁ בָּרוּךְ הוּא עִמָּהֶם בְּהַחֵרֶם שֶׁעָשׂוּ – הַיְנוּ שֶׁהַחְלָטַת הַדָּבָר אִם (וּמָתַי) יְגַלּוּ לְיַעֲקֹב תָּלוּי בְּהַקָּדוֹשׁ בָּרוּךְ הוּא – וְאַף כֻּלָּם יַחַד אֵינָם רַשָּׁאִים לְגַלּוֹת וְלַעֲבוֹר עַל הַחֵרֶם כִּי אִם בְּצֵרוּפוֹ וְהַסְכָּמָתוֹ שֶׁל הַקָּדוֹשׁ בָּרוּךְ הוּא83 (אֲבָל אֵין הַכַּוָּנָה שֶׁכָּלְלוּ אֶת הַקָּדוֹשׁ בָּרוּךְ הוּא בְּהַחֵרֶם וּמֻכְרָח שֶׁלֹּא לְגַלּוֹת, שֶׁהֲרֵי אֵין יָדוּעַ לָהֶם אִם הַקָּדוֹשׁ בָּרוּךְ הוּא מַסְכִּים לְזֶה, כַּנַּ"ל84).

The intent of the statement that the Holy One, blessed be He, did not reveal the matter because they “issued a ban of ostracism… and they had the Holy One, blessed be He, join together with them” is as follows: They “had the Holy One, blessed be He, join together with them” means that they agreed not to reveal the matter without His consent and involvement. Thus, even though by issuing the ban, they did not intend to prohibit G‑d from revealing the matter without their consent, He nevertheless, as it were, joined together with them and consented that the nullification of the ban and the revelation of the matter to Yaakov would only take place when they all – Yaakov’s sons and G‑d – joined together to do so.

וּמַה שֶּׁהַקָּדוֹשׁ בָּרוּךְ הוּא לֹא גִלָּה "לְפִי שֶׁהֶחֱרִימוּ . . וְשִׁתְּפוּ אֶת הַקָּדוֹשׁ בָּרוּךְ הוּא כו'" הַכַּוָּנָה: מִכֵּיוָן שֶׁהֵם שִׁתְּפוּ לְהַקָּדוֹשׁ בָּרוּךְ הוּא
שֶׁהֵם לֹא יְגַלּוּ לְיַעֲקֹב בְּלִי הַסְכָּמָתוֹ וְצֵרוּפוֹ, לָכֵן (עִם הֱיוֹת שֶׁבְּהַחֵרֶם שֶׁעָשׂוּ לֹא הִתְכַּוְּנוּ שֶׁהַקָּדוֹשׁ בָּרוּךְ הוּא אָסוּר לְגַלּוֹת בְּלִי הַסְכָּמָתָם) כִּבְיָכוֹל נִשְׁתַּתֵּף הוּא עַצְמוֹ עִמָּהֶם שֶׁבִּטּוּל הַחֵרֶם וְגִלּוּי הַדָּבָר לְיַעֲקֹב יִהְיֶה דַוְקָא בְּשִׁתּוּף כֻּלָּם (הַקָּדוֹשׁ בָּרוּךְ הוּא וְהַשְּׁבָטִים) יַחַד.

On this basis, it is possible to understand Rashi’s statement:

Why didn’t the Holy One, blessed be He, reveal it to him? Because Yaakov’s sons issued a ban of ostracism against and cursed anyone who would reveal the matter to Yaakov and they had the Holy One, blessed be He, join together with them…. Yitzchak, however, knew that Yosef was alive; nevertheless, he did not tell Yaakov, but said, “How can I reveal it to him when the Holy One, blessed be He, does not desire to reveal it to him?”

וְעַל פִּי זֶה יוּבַן מַה שֶּׁפֵּרֵשׁ רַשִׁ"י "(וְלָמָּה לֹא גִלָּה לוֹ הַקָּדוֹשׁ בָּרוּךְ הוּא לְפִי שֶׁהֶחֱרִימוּ וְקִלְּלוּ אֶת כָּל מִי שֶׁיְּגַלֶּה וְשִׁתְּפוּ לְהַקָּדוֹשׁ בָּרוּךְ הוּא עִמָּהֶם), אֲבָל יִצְחָק הָיָה יוֹדֵעַ שֶׁהוּא חַי אָמַר הַאֵיךְ אֲגַלֶּה וְהַקָּדוֹשׁ בָּרוּךְ הוּא אֵינוֹ רוֹצֶה לְגַלּוֹת לוֹ"

The Holy One, blessed be He, did not refrain from revealing the matter to Yaakov because He was obligated to observe the ban issued by Yaakov’s sons, but because He did not desire to reveal the matter to him, as explained above. Accordingly, Yitzchak took a lesson from this and said, “How can I reveal it to him when the Holy One, blessed be He, does not desire to reveal it to him?”

כִּי הַטַּעַם שֶׁלֹּא גִלָּה הַקָּדוֹשׁ בָּרוּךְ הוּא לְיַעֲקֹב לֹא הָיָה מִפְּנֵי שֶׁמֻּכְרָח הָיָה לְקַיֵּם אֶת הַחֵרֶם שֶׁעָשׂוּ הַשְּׁבָטִים, אֶלָּא מִפְּנֵי שֶׁלֹּא רָצָה לְגַלּוֹת לוֹ, וְכַנַּ"ל, וּמִזֶּה לָמַד יִצְחָק וְאָמַר "הַאֵיךְ אֲגַלֶּה וְהַקָּדוֹשׁ בָּרוּךְ הוּא אֵינוֹ רוֹצֶה לְגַלּוֹת לוֹ".

On this basis, the original question can be resolved. The reason Yosef did not send a messenger to notify Yaakov that he was alive was that he knew that “the Holy One, blessed be He, did not desire to reveal it to him.” This taught him that Yaakov did not yet need to know that Yosef was still alive. Therefore, Yosef also said, “How can I reveal it to him when the Holy One, blessed be He, does not desire to reveal it to him?”

וְעַל פִּי זֶה מוּבָן גַּם טַעְמוֹ שֶׁל יוֹסֵף לָמָּה לֹא שָׁלַח לְהוֹדִיעַ לְיַעֲקֹב שֶׁהוּא חַי; דְּמִכֵּיוָן שֶׁיָּדַע שֶׁהַקָּדוֹשׁ בָּרוּךְ הוּא אֵינוֹ רוֹצֶה לְגַלּוֹת לְיַעֲקֹב הֲרֵי זוֹהִי הוֹרָאָה שֶׁיַּעֲקֹב אֵינוֹ צָרִיךְ לָדַעַת עֲדַיִן שֶׁהוּא חַי, וְאָמַר (גַּם יוֹסֵף) "הַאֵיךְ אֲגַלֶּה וְהַקָּדוֹשׁ בָּרוּךְ הוּא אֵינוֹ רוֹצֶה לְגַלּוֹת לוֹ".

When the Time Finally Came

There are still questions that require clarification:

a) Because of the ban of ostracism, it was forbidden for Yaakov’s sons to inform him that Yosef was alive. How, then, did they ultimately do so?

b) How did Yosef instruct them to tell Yaakov that he was alive, since G‑d did not reveal the matter to Yaakov?

ז

אָמְנָם עֲדַיִן צָרִיךְ לְהָבִין: עַל יְדֵי הַחֵרֶם – אָסוּר הָיָה לְהַשְּׁבָטִים לְהוֹדִיעַ לְיַעֲקֹב שֶׁיּוֹסֵף חַי, וְגַם אֵיךְ אָמַר לָהֶם יוֹסֵף לְהוֹדִיעַ לְיַעֲקֹב שֶׁהוּא חַי, כֵּיוָן שֶׁהַקָּדוֹשׁ בָּרוּךְ הוּא אֵינוֹ מְגַלֶּה.

These questions are also clarified by Rashi in his commentary. On the verse,42 “Yaakov saw that there was grain being sold in Egypt,” Rashi comments: “He saw with ‘a lens of holiness’ that he still had hope43 in Egypt, but it was not an actual prophecy to explicitly inform him that this was Yosef.”

Upon hearing their father use this term, Yaakov’s sons – who knew Yosef was in Egypt – understood that this vision emanated from “a lens of holiness,” and that G‑d was informing them that the time had come to seek out Yosef and ultimately inform Yaakov that Yosef was alive. Therefore, “the brothers of Yosef descended.” As Rashi explains, this wording indicates that “they regretted selling him and decided to behave toward him in a brotherly manner and to ransom him for whatever amount of money would be demanded of them.”44

אַךְ גַּם זֶה נִתְבָּאֵר עַל פִּי פֵּרוּשׁ רַשִׁ"י: בְּפַרְשָׁתֵנוּ85 עַל הַפָּסוּק "וַיַּרְא יַעֲקֹב כִּי יֶשׁ שֶׁבֶר בְּמִצְרָיִם" פֵּרֵשׁ רַשִׁ"י "וּמַהוּ וַיַּרְא רָאָה בְּאַסְפַּקְלַרְיָא שֶׁל קֹדֶשׁ שֶׁעֲדַיִן יֵשׁ לוֹ שֶׁבֶר בְּמִצְרַיִם וְלֹא הָיְתָה נְבוּאָה מַמָּשׁ לְהוֹדִיעוֹ שֶׁזֶּה יוֹסֵף". – וְהַשְּׁבָטִים שֶׁיָּדְעוּ שֶׁיּוֹסֵף הוּא בְּמִצְרַיִם מוּבָן שֶׁהֵבִינוּ שֶׁרְאִיָּה זוֹ בְּאַסְפַּקְלַרְיָא שֶׁל קֹדֶשׁ – הַיְנוּ שֶׁמּוֹדִיעַ הַקָּדוֹשׁ בָּרוּךְ הוּא שֶׁמַּתְחִיל הַזְּמַן שֶׁיַּחְקְרוּ וִיבַקְּשׁוּ אֶת יוֹסֵף וְיַגִּידוּ לְיַעֲקֹב – וְלָכֵן "וַיֵּרְדוּ אֲחֵי יוֹסֵף – שֶׁהָיוּ מִתְחָרְטִין בִּמְכִירָתוֹ וְנָתְנוּ לִבָּם לְהִתְנַהֵג עִמּוֹ בְּאַחֲוָה וְלִפְדּוֹתוֹ בְּכָל מָמוֹן שֶׁיִּפְסְקוּ עֲלֵיהֶם"86.

Similar concepts apply regarding Yosef notifying his father. When he saw that his brothers were endeavoring to find him,45 he understood that something was afoot. Nevertheless, since he did not know with certainty that the appropriate time had come to inform Yaakov – and moreover, and primarily, since he knew that were he to inform Yaakov before his brothers did, he would damage their relationship with Yaakov – he therefore refrained from notifying Yaakov via a messenger. Accordingly, he told his brothers,46 “I am Yosef, your brother,” knowing that they – who had issued the ban of ostracism – would surely realize when the Holy One, blessed be He, desired to inform Yaakov and they would tell him, “Yosef is still alive.”

וְעַל דֶּרֶךְ זֶה הָיָה בְּהוֹדָעַת יוֹסֵף, כַּאֲשֶׁר רָאָה שֶׁהֵם מִשְׁתַּדְּלִים לִמְצוֹא אוֹתוֹ87 הֵבִין שֶׁיֵּשׁ דְּבָרִים בְּגוֹ, אֲבָל מִכֵּיוָן שֶׁלֹּא יָדַע בְּוַדָּאוּת שֶׁבָּא הַזְּמַן, וְעוֹד וְעִקָּר – בְּאִם יוֹדִיעַ לְיַעֲקֹב קֹדֶם לְהוֹדָעַת הַשְּׁבָטִים – יִפְגַּע בְּיַחַס יַעֲקֹב אֲלֵיהֶם וכו' – לָכֵן לֹא הוֹדִיעַ בְּעַצְמוֹ לְיַעֲקֹב עַל יְדֵי שָׁלִיחַ כו', כִּי אִם אָמַר לְהַשְּׁבָטִים "אֲנִי יוֹסֵף אֲחֵיכֶם", וְהֵם שֶׁעָשׂוּ אֶת הַחֵרֶם בְּוַדַּאי יֵדְעוּ כְּשֶׁיִּרְצֶה הַקָּדוֹשׁ בָּרוּךְ הוּא לְגַלּוֹת לְיַעֲקֹב, וְיֹאמְרוּ לְיַעֲקֹב: עוֹד יוֹסֵף חַי.

Likkutei Sichos, Volume 10, P. 129ff. (Adaptedfrom asichah delivered on Shabbos Parshas Mikeitz, 5733 [1972])

(משיחת ש״פ מקץ, תשל״ג)