December 24, 2020 11:24 pm at 11:24 pm #1931796
Vayigash 3 — Power Should Not Always Corrupt :
וידברו אליו את כל־דברי יוסף אשר דבר אלהם וירא את־העגלות אשר־שלח יוסף לשאת אתו ותחי רוח יעקב אביהם
And they related to him all the words of Yosef that he had spoken to them, and he saw the wagons that Yosef had sent to transport him. And the spirit of their father Yaakov was revived (Bereishis 45:27).
Rashi (based on Bereishis Rabbah 94:3) explains that Yosef gave the shevatim a sign to give to his father, regarding the topic he had discussed with Yaakov when they separated before mechiras Yosef. That was the section dealing with the eglah arufah, the heifer that was to be beheaded (Devarim 21). For this reason, the pasuk says that Yaakov’s spirit was revived after he saw the wagons that Yosef had sent, not the wagons that Pharaoh had sent. The word eglah, heifer, has the same root as agalah, wagon. By sending wagons, Yosef was telling Yaakov that he still remembered the last lesson his father had taught him twenty-two years before.
Were the laws of eglah arufah the topic they were up to in their cycle of learning when they separated, or was there a specific reason Yaakov taught those laws to his son just prior to sending him away?
What is the eglah arufah? When a human corpse is found between two cities and it is not apparent who killed the person, the elders of the city closest to the body break the neck of a heifer and declare that they were not responsible for the man’s death. And they request atonement from Hashem for his death.
Rav Meir Arik (cited in Mekach Tov on Parashas Vayigash) explains that the mitzvah of eglah arufah conveys to us that some type of kapparah is needed, even when we have the situation of “Lo noda mi hikahu — It was not known who struck him” (Devarim 21:1). We are held to a standard in which we are judged, even for an offense of which we are unaware.
Just about any person who is in a position of power is faced with an almost impossible proposition; he has to govern but not cause harm. He must enforce rules that may spill figurative blood. Even the simple political appointment and elevation of one person may unintentionally mean the demotion or neglect of another. The ruler can say that he was unaware of the repercussions, but the blow to the other is still felt. The other person’s pride and esteem still took a hit.
The law of eglah arufah comes and tells us that even this requires atonement.
That is why Yaakov, just prior to sending him off, learned with Yosef the laws of eglah arufah. Yaakov hoped that when the prophetic dreams would come true and his son would be in a position of authority, he would be careful not to spill, even figuratively, innocent blood. Rather, he would rule with a wise eye, always looking ahead at any potential collateral damage.
When Yaakov saw that Yosef remembered the parashah of eglah arufah, and that he was keeping this in mind as he ruled the land of Egypt, his spirit was revived. Yaakov was happy to see that the lesson took. Yosef, in a position of penultimate power, was still dealing with Hashem’s creations with great care and concern.December 25, 2020 12:12 am at 12:12 am #1931886
The kapora comes for not escorting by remembering that his father Yaakov Avinu escorted him and Yosef appreciated that. The Dubner Magid has a mashel. A Rav is hired in a new location. He wants to know how heartfully he is being wanted, he should check the wagons that are sent for him. If it is comfortable, big and spacious, then he knows that they want him to take everything along, being a permanent position. Similarly, Yosef sent big wagons, so Yaakov realized that Yosef really wants him there and not just temporarily so he was pleased.December 25, 2020 8:41 am at 8:41 am #1931912
Thank you as always for adding to the discussion. I had never seen the Dubna Maggid, is it in his sefer ?
While he may have said that Yosef sent big wagons I think the truth is that Yakov saw the second set of wagons that Yosef sent -not the wagons sent by Paraoh.
See this vort from Rav Zev Leff (and iy`H in my upcoming published sefer) It is very clear and is masbir many diyukim
Vayigash 3 — Location/Association
ויגדו לו לאמר עוד יוסף חי וכי הוא משל בכל ארץ מצרים ויפג לבו כי לא־האמין להם:וידברו אליו את כל דברי יוסף אשר דבר אלהם וירא את העגלות אשר שלח יוסף לשאת אתו ותחי רוח יעקב אביהם
And they told him, saying, “Yosef is still alive,” and that he is ruler over the entire Land of Egypt; but he had a turn of heart, for he did not believe them. And they related to him all the words of Yosef that he had spoken to them, and he saw the wagons that Yosef had sent to transport him, and the spirit of their father Yaakov was revived (Bereishis 45:26-27).
Citing a famous Midrash (Bereishis Rabbah 94:3), Rashi writes that Yaakov’s spirit was revived when he heard the message Yosef had sent through the shevatim, along with the wagons. The word עגלות (wagons) is connected to the word עגלה (calf), alluding to the עגלה ערופה ritual described in Parashas Shoftim (Devarim 21:1-9). Yosef reminded his father that this halachah was the last topic they had studied together before Yosef left home years earlier. (See Daas Zekeinim on 45:27.) This reminder convinced Yaakov that Yosef was indeed alive, and that it was he who had summoned Yaakov to Egypt. Even more, it demonstrated that this viceroy was the same Yosef with whom Yaakov had studied Torah twenty-two years earlier.
Two questions present themselves. First, when you want to transport something or someone from point A to point B, you send moving vans. Agalos are the early equivalent of our moving vans. If Yosef wanted Yaakov to move from Eretz Yisrael to Mitzrayim, what was so special about him sending wagons that Yaakov intuited a coded message upon seeing them?
Additionally, if we read the pesukim before and after our verses carefully (45:19,21; 46:5), we see that the sending of the wagons was not at Yosef’s behest but at the behest of Pharaoh. So how can we say that Yaakov saw the wagons that Yosef sent and thereby understood his message? The wagons were not a message from Yosef; they were not even sent by him.
Rav Zev Leff provides an explanation. Pharaoh wanted Yaakov to move to Mitzrayim as soon as possible. He saw the prosperity that Yosef had brought his country and rightly assumed that his father Yaakov could have an even greater positive effect. Rashi (47:10), in fact, tells us that the hunger abated with the appearance of Yaakov in Egypt. Pharaoh therefore sent a message to Yaakov to come down and not worry about a thing: “Leave your stuff behind, and I will furnish and provide all the best that Egypt has to offer. And most important, don’t even worry about your business or means of livelihood, i.e., the shepherding. You come here and I will set you up with everything” (based on 45:18, 20).
While this may have served Pharaoh’s needs, Yosef was aware that it would be a non-starter as far as Yaakov was concerned. Though the Egyptian monarch was prepared to give us royal treatment, being afforded the opportunity to make ourselves at home in a foreign nation and culture is an invitation to cultural suicide. Moving to a new land without lock, stock, and barrel, where everything from der alter heim (the old home) is left behind, and we are promised swift and easy integration into the new culture, can bring us on a short path to assimilation.
Yosef knew that Yaakov would never accept moving to Egypt under those conditions. Rather, he planned to bring down his father and his whole family, but with all their possessions and all the accoutrements of the old country. He went about this by sending two sets of agalos, one for the people and one for the belongings. What’s more, after their arrival in Egypt, Yosef instructed his brothers to tell Pharaoh that they were shepherds who earned their livelihood with livestock, something anathema to the Egyptians who worshiped sheep. The intention was to be allowed to live in Goshen, far from normal Egyptian society. To this end, it was vital for them to bring their livestock, as well, as the Torah (46:6) points out. This way, they would be able to continue their Canaan life even in Egypt.
Now we can answer our questions. It’s true that Pharaoh commanded to send agalos, to transport the people, but Yosef sent an additional set, to transport their possessions: their livestock as well as their personal belongings, which would ensure continuity of their lifestyle. That was the hook for Yaakov Avinu, who wanted to be sure that the descent to Mitzrayim was not a trip down a one-way street toward integration and eventual assimilation.
When Yaakov saw duplicate sets of agalos, two sets of moving vans, he realized what it was: Pharaoh’s invitation for the people to come down to Egypt, combined with Yosef’s realization that in order for Yaakov to come happily, he needed to bring his original surroundings along with him. That was when Yaakov said, “Ah, Yosef understood the message of the eglah arufah!”
What is the eglah arufah? If a corpse is found between two cities and it is not known who killed the person, the elders of the city closest to the body break the neck of a calf and declare that they were not responsible for the man’s death. The Gemara (Sotah 45b) asks: Do you think the ziknei ha’ir, the elders of the city, would murder someone? The Gemara then answers that while they certainly cannot be accused of actually murdering the fellow, they may have not accompanied the person as he took leave of their city, hence not fulfilling the mitzvah of levayah, escorting someone embarking on a journey.
One can ask: And walking him four amos (about eight feet), the requisite distance of levayah, would have saved him? He may have been murdered ten miles outside the city limit, so how would those first eight feet have made a difference?
We can answer based on the Maharal (Chiddushei Aggados Sotah 45b, 46b), who explains that when you are melaveh, escort, someone, you show that he, as an individual, is connected to the group. He is part of something greater, part of the Klal, even though he has physically left your company and is no longer with you. This creates a spiritual connection, which gives the one accompanied a shared merit and an effective protection against harm.
Eglah arufah and the need for levayah teach us that a person is not defined by location as much as he is defined by association. Where you are does not define you; who you are identified with defines you!
When Yaakov Avinu saw that Yosef had sent an additional set of agalos, he understood Yosef’s intentions. It was as if he said to himself, “Not only does he want us to come to Mitzrayim, but he wants us to keep our lifestyle, our associations. We will not be defined as people living in Egypt, but by what we regard as holy and important. Just as Yosef was able to maintain his kedushah, his sanctity, even in the unholy Land of Egypt, we, as well, will be able to maintain our association and attachment to the kedushah of der alter heim, of Eretz Yisrael, even while living geographically in the Land of Egypt.” Seeing the extra set of agalos that Yosef sent, and understanding the message that came along with them, revived Yaakov’s spirit and allowed for him to go to Egypt in a contented state of mind.
As Yidden, we can survive wherever we are, as long as the proper groundwork is laid to maintain an atmosphere of kedushah.
Rav Leff has other sources to bolster his point. First, he cites the pesukim later on in this parashah (46:5-6): “Vayakam Yaakov mi’Beer Sheva vayisu bnei Yisrael es Yaakov avihem ve’es tapam ve’es nesheihem ba’agalos asher shalach Pharaoh la’seis oso. Vayikchu es mikneihem ve’es rechusham asher rachshu be’Eretz Canaan vayavo’u Mitzrayimah Yaakov ve’chol zaro ito — And Yaakov arose from Beer Sheva; the sons of Israel carried Yaakov their father, and their young children and their wives, in the wagons which Pharaoh had sent to transport him. They took their livestock and their possessions which they had amassed in the Land of Canaan, and they came to Egypt — Yaakov and all his offspring with him.”
Though the first pasuk makes it clear that they made use of the wagons from Pharaoh to transport the people, why does it not say the same for the possessions in the second pasuk? According to what we just said, Pharaoh only sent wagons for the people, not the possessions, and the additional wagons were only sent by Yosef. These extra wagons brought a special sense of revival to Yaakov; he knew that he and his family were not moving to another land, but transplanting one holy land into the area of another.
Rav Leff brings out this point from another source, as well. Yosef told his brothers that he was going to tell Pharaoh (46:31), “Achai u’veis avi asher be’Eretz Canaan ba’u eilai — My brothers and my father’s household who are in the Land of Canaan have come to me.” If by that point Yaakov and the shevatim had already come down to Mitzrayim, why did Yosef say, “asher be’Eretz Canaan — who are in the Land of Canaan”?
These three words were what Yosef was working toward and what enabled Yaakov to come down happily. Yosef was in effect saying, “My father and brothers came here because they will be able to maintain and transplant the kosher life they had in Canaan to Mitzrayim.” While geographically they were in Mitzrayim, they were, at the same time, back at home in Canaan.
This was why, before Yaakov went down to Mitzrayim, he could fully appreciate Hashem’s reassurance (46:4), “Anochi aalcha gam aloh — And I shall also surely bring you up.” He and his children would later ascend; they were not going to fall prey to what Mitzrayim had to offer, but would survive and flourish, as they became the am hanivchar, Hashem’s chosen nation.December 25, 2020 9:21 am at 9:21 am #1931944
The Klei Yokor attributes the shibud in Mitzraim to Yaakov’s concern of taking tbe environment along and not get assimilated. They grabbed on to the land ויאחזו בה which created jealousy, so the mitzryim weakened them through work. They had hakoras tov for Yosef, so they did not directlty kill them in contrast to the Natzim ym’s who learned their behavior against the Jews from mitzryim. The Jews forgot the belief to keep in mind constantly that we are strangers in a strange land, as pointed out in detail by the Meshech Hachama in Parashas Bechukosai on Af Gam Zos. Moshe Rabbebu named his first son Gershom to remember this dictum.December 25, 2020 10:04 am at 10:04 am #1931966
Looking up the Ohel Yaakov, he has a little different mashel. Someone invites people for his son’s bris and sends a big comfortable wagon to bring them. Similarly, at the redemption, Hashem will make sure that we all be able to take part in it providing big comfortable airplains to fly us to Eretz Yisroel, should happen in our time speedily, Omen. The shibud might be a stepping stone to the redemption.December 25, 2020 12:34 pm at 12:34 pm #1931983
Why specifically an Eglah Arufah?
Possibly Yaakov felt that he was at fault for what happened with Yosef. Yosef is saying – as long as you did your due diligence (walked me 4 amos, physically and metaphorically by preparing me for life), there is no fault.
explanation of Eglah Arufah itself – why the closest city and specifically elders? if he unexpectedly died on the road, he might have been infected in the last city he stayed in. Elders are saying that they maintained proper public hygiene., social distancing and masking. If they would even taught that person a lot of Torah while coughing at him, they would still be guilty.December 25, 2020 2:15 pm at 2:15 pm #1932011
keep answering questions also – good shabbosDecember 25, 2020 2:19 pm at 2:19 pm #1932012
אנכי ארד עמך ואנכי עלך גם עלה, I go down with you and bring you up wth me, asks the Dubner Magid, why by going down Hshem comes first whereas when coming up you come first? He answers, it is similar to taking a child into tbe sea. When going in, you go first to protect the child but when going out, the child comes first. Similarly Hashem stays in Mitzraim until we are taken out, imo anochi batzoro.December 27, 2020 12:10 am at 12:10 am #1932182
Why is Yaakov sending Yehuda as a new Rosh Yeshiva? A lot of focus of answering this question is about Yehuda’s role or his difference from Yosef.
But a simple question – Yosef is already there. Why can’t he be a Rosh Yeshiva? He was Yaakov’s best student, he just proved that he remembers his Eglah learning. Maybe he sent the Eglah to demand his Rosh Yeshiva position, even. So, after irritating brothers by favoring Yosef, Yaakov is now sending a new Rosh Yeshiva risking offending Yosef.
pshat preferred.December 27, 2020 10:01 am at 10:01 am #1932272
מעשה אבות סימן לבנים, Yehudah Hanosi will disseminate the Torah through the mishna, as we know, they say that there is no nishna for Chanukah because the kohanim took over.December 27, 2020 10:24 am at 10:24 am #1932274
All the halachas eminate from Hilel descendants of Yehuda the Rosh Yeshiva.December 27, 2020 10:28 am at 10:28 am #1932282
Could be that Shemaiah and Avtalyon got into the picture who were gerim to break the previous succession and start from Yehuda, Hilel from then on.December 27, 2020 7:26 pm at 7:26 pm #1932413
Reb Eliezer, thanks, these are good ones, but not so much peshat..
my daughter’s suggestion – the brothers are not ready to accept Yosef as their Rebbe based on mutual history [and we see it later, when brothers insinuate Yaakov’s words to Yosef]
the only relevant explanations I was able to find – Lubavitcher saying that we should learn from Yosef in practical matters, but Yehudah is pure Torah. There are others who just laud Yehudah in a similar vein, without contrasting with Yosef. This is a little hard to accept as we learned before from Yaakov that one can be both a Torah person and deal with the world… Do we see anywhere that Yehudah paskens better than Yosef? So, it seems indeed that Yosef Torah is good, just students are not ready for it.December 27, 2020 8:40 pm at 8:40 pm #1932446
I am extending what Rashi says mishom teitzei haroah, from Goshen will come psak and also through Yehuda. Maybe that was the reason that later Yehuda took over psak, which interesting as you would think that the Torah delegates it to the kohanim who did not work. It was the execution of halachas but not the derivation. Yehuda was the nasi who did not need to be supported either, so they had time to work on the Torah.
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