Rabbi Reisman – Parshas Vayigash 5782
1 – Topic – A Thought on the First Aliyah.
As we prepare for Shabbos Parshas Vayigash and we head into the stretch of the winter Zman with a renewed energy and vigor to B’ezras Hashem have a great winter Zman. Especially with Daf Yomi coming to very short Masechtos. Even those of you who never learn Daf Yomi. Beginning on Tuesday, they will be learning Masechtas Megillah. You can do it. You can do a Daf of Masechtas Megillah every day. If you fall behind you catch up later as you are only going to do it for Megillah. Chap a’ Rein, join the Daf. IY”H you will be happy you did.
We look at Parshas Vayigash. I would like to try a Vort on the first Aliyah, second Aliyah and third Aliyah. The first Aliyah. At the beginning of the Parsha we find a very strange inconsistency with Yehuda which I know many Meforshim talk about. The inconsistency is this. In the previous Parsha when the Shevatim are first accused of stealing the Geviah, first they say that as is found in 44:9 (אֲשֶׁר יִמָּצֵא אִתּוֹ מֵעֲבָדֶיךָ, וָמֵת). First they say, the one in whose possession is found should die (וְגַם-אֲנַחְנוּ, נִהְיֶה לַאדֹנִי לַעֲבָדִים). A very strict punishment, Misah.
Then after it is found, they say that we should all be Avadim to Pharoh. In other words, they are accepting a punishment. Then in this week’s Parsha Yehuda says if you don’t let us go I am going to kill out the whole Mitzrayim as it says in 44:18 (כִּי כָמוֹךָ, כְּפַרְעֹה) as Rashi explains. What is going on? Were the Shevatim ready to do battle, were they willing to concede? I know there is a lot of Divrei Torah on this, but I saw in the Nesivos’ Sefer on Chumash Nachlas Yaakov, he says something which is very Karov to Pshat.
He says the following. We know that when Lo Aleinu a Tzarah happens to a person, a person should say what does the Ribbono Shel Olam want from me? A person should try to analyze and see what is it that HKB”H wants. Certainly Gedolim like the Shevatim did such a thing. Zagt the Nesivos, they immediately said as it says B’feirush in last week’s Parsha, this is happening because we sold Yosef. When the accusation of the Geviah came, the Shevatim understood that what was going to happen to them was a punishment for the selling of Yosef.
As it says in Shemos 21:16 (וְגֹנֵב אִישׁ וּמְכָרוֹ, מוֹת יוּמָת). There is a Chiyuv Misah. They felt that Min Hashamayim it may well be the Geviah is found perhaps in the possession of Shimon or Levi who had been instrumental in the idea of selling Yosef, therefore, they said in whoever’s possession it is found it seems from heaven he is deserving of Misah.
Afterwards, subsequently, they were told no, we only want to make you Avadim. Then they made a Cheshbon and they said okay it is not for the selling of Yosef but it is the Shibud Mitzrayim that Avraham Avinu was told at the Bris Bein Habesarim that your grandchildren will be Meshubad in Mitzrayim. So then they said to themselves, okay, we did an Aveirah with Yosef and HKB”H wants to start the Shibud Mitzrayim, so we will all be Avadim. That was the Cheshbon Hanefesh.
Then Yosef takes only Binyamin and tells them to go home. At that point Yehuda said Cheshbon Hanefesh? All of our Cheshbonos are wrong. If it is for the selling of Yosef why is Binyamin being held, he wasn’t there. If it is for the Bris Bein Habesarim, the Shibud in Mitzrayim, then why are we being sent home? At that point it became clear to Yehuda that his Cheshbonos were incorrect and then he got up like a lion and said (כִּי כָמוֹךָ, כְּפַרְעֹה), we don’t deserve this and he was ready to do battle. This is the Nesivos’ take B’derech Hap’shat, an idea in what the Shevatim were thinking in their back and forth. That is a thought on the first Aliyah.
2 – Topic – A Thought on the Second Aliyah
In the second Aliyah Yosef reveals himself and actually does it twice. If you look at the Pesukim you see very clearly that he tells them (אֲנִי יוֹסֵף) twice. Once in Posuk Gimmel (אֲנִי יוֹסֵף, הַעוֹד אָבִי חָי) and then again in Posuk Daled (אֲנִי יוֹסֵף אֲחִיכֶם, אֲשֶׁר-מְכַרְתֶּם אֹתִי, מִצְרָיְמָה). Why does he say (אֲנִי יוֹסֵף) twice? Why does the Posuk bring it down two times?
I once heard that two Mechanchim, two elementary school Rabbeim came to the Brisker Rav. They had a disagreement and they asked him who is right. What was the disagreement? One Rebbi said I start the year very strict and I get the boys in line, and then I lighten up and I get them to like me. That is the best way to do it. The other Rebbi said no, that is the wrong way. You start the year easygoing and they start to love you. Then you buckle down on them once they love you and you have them in your hand you are as strict with them as you need to be strict with them. They asked the Brisker Rav which approach to Chinuch is best.
The Brisker Rav answered either way is fine, however, a Rebbi has to have an approach. A Rebbi who has no approach, no plan, and he just goes in day by day, he is not going to be successful in his Talmidim. He has to think through an approach and have a plan. Have a way of doing it. You can start strict and get soft, you can start soft and get strict. As you wish.
This came to mind when I read about Yosef. Yosef took the approach of giving them Mussar and then softening up. First he says to them in Posuk Gimmel (אֲנִי יוֹסֵף), he says to them I am Yosef (הַעוֹד אָבִי חָי) as the Meforshim say you were so worried that our father will die if Binyamin is taken away. Why didn’t you think about it then? (וְלֹא-יָכְלוּ אֶחָיו לַעֲנוֹת אֹתוֹ). In that Posuk it is clear he was being strict with them and it says they could not answer him.
Then he backed off and softened up. Look at it. What does he say in the next Posuk? (וַיֹּאמֶר יוֹסֵף אֶל-אֶחָיו גְּשׁוּ-נָא אֵלַי, וַיִּגָּשׁוּ). Come close, he drew them close and said (אֲנִי יוֹסֵף אֲחִיכֶם). He used the word (אֲחִיכֶם). I am Yosef, I am your brother (אֲשֶׁר-מְכַרְתֶּם אֹתִי, מִצְרָיְמָה). (וְעַתָּה אַל-תֵּעָצְבוּ, וְאַל-יִחַר בְּעֵינֵיכֶם, כִּי-מְכַרְתֶּם אֹתִי, הֵנָּה: כִּי לְמִחְיָה, שְׁלָחַנִי אֱלֹקים לִפְנֵיכֶם). He says words of Pi’us. So that sometimes it is necessary to say something that is strict, something that is tough. It could be times that it is necessary. However, Yosef had a plan. His plan was that he would tell them what has to be said and then he will soften up and make sure that the relationship is good.
It is very important. Sometimes we have a relationship with somebody and there is sort of a mixed bag. There is a need to say something tough and on the other hand you want to keep the relationship. People end up creating a Cholent, people end up sending confusing messages. It could be to children, it could be to other close relatives or to friends. Confusing messages. Yes, no, where are you? A person has to have an approach, has to have a Mehaleich. You don’t just do things as the mood tells you to do. You have an approach. Yosef had a clear approach. He told them something sharp at a time they would hear it and (נִבְהֲלוּ), and then like Chazal say in Sanhedrin 107b (22 lines from the top) (לעולם תהא שמאל דוחה וימין מקרבת) with one hand he pushed them away and now he brought them close and he said (אַל-תֵּעָצְבוּ), don’t worry about it (כִּי לְמִחְיָה, שְׁלָחַנִי אֱלֹקים) because G-d said to do this. A wonderful message from the second Aliyah.
3 – Topic – A Thought on the Third Aliyah
In the third Aliyah Yosef is already sending for his father and he sends tons of food. I don’t know why he sends so much food if he is telling them to come. Okay, but I think that I asked that a different year probably. He sends them a lot and 45:23 (מִטּוּב מִצְרָיִם). Besides what is listed there is something else. (מִטּוּב מִצְרָיִם). Rashi brings from Megillah 16b (21 lines from the top) (יין [ישן] שדעת זקנים נוחה הימנו). He sent some old wine which elderly people tend to enjoy. That is what it says. In other words, we are saying that old wine is better than fresher wine. It is better to have aged wine then wine that is Yayin Chadash, that is non-aged. That is what people say. Old wine is good.
It seems to be a contradiction because this is a Gemara in Megillah 16b, however, there is another Gemara in Menachos 86b (in the Mishnah) where Rebbi holds (אין מביאין ישן דברי רבי). You don’t bring old wine for Nesachim, for it to be poured in the Beis Hamikdash and Rashi there on 87a says (כשעברה שנתו עוברת אדמימות ואינו אדום כל כך כשנה ראשונה). Wine that is aged more than a year is not so good anymore. (אין מביאין ישן) for Nesachim. You have to remember that Rashi was in the wine business. Rashi was from France. That is why Maseches Avodah Zorah has so much Rashi and Tosafos on the Sugyos that deal with wine because they dealt with wine all of the time. We find that Rashi says that wine that is a year old is not so good, it is inferior. Isn’t that a Stira to our Rashi? We need to look for a third Rashi somewhere.
In Pesachim 108b there is a Rashbam. The Gemara says (11 lines from the top) that the Arba Kosos on Pesach could be (אחד חדש ואחד ישן), old wine or new wine. You are Yotzei with each one. What is the Chiddush of the Gemara that it could be old wine or new wine? The Rashbam says that (ישן) you can use old wine (שאין בו טעם יין כל כך). It doesn’t taste as good (שנעשה חלש) as it has gotten weak, it has gotten old. Says the Rashbam (אי נמי חדש אין בו טעם יין). Maybe not, maybe fresh wine is inferior. It is very strange. The Rashbam says maybe the old wine is inferior or maybe the new wine is inferior. Maybe the Rashbam was bothered by these two Gemaras.
Tosafos there says the Ikkur is that old wine is better like we find by Yosef. It is a very confusing set of Chazals regarding the quality of old wine or new wine, aged wine or non-aged wine. Personally, I like low alcohol wine. I have been ashamed because all the Bekiim around me have always said high alcohol is good. Finally I decided no Busha, I like low alcohol wine. When you send me wine for Purim B’ezras Hashem, I like good old Rashi wine, wine that is low alcohol, good quality wine. It seems (יין [ישן] שדעת זקנים נוחה הימנו). When you get old you like old wine. We will see. Maybe it will yet happen. When you are young you like fresh wine. Sounds like Chazal. It is difficult to have different Chazals talking about the quality of wine in two different ways.
Once we are on the topic of wine, I do want to make a public service announcement. The Jewish wine stores sell any wine that has any Hechsher at all. If it has Hebrew lettering on it they sell it. You should know that not all Hechsheirim are good for wine. As a matter of fact, I would say that about 50% of the bottles of wine that are brought to me by guests are wines that I would not drink.
How are you supposed to know which wine is good and which wine is not? So I will tell you what I do. Khal Adas Jeshurun, KAJ - the community of Washington Heights has a list of acceptable Hechsheirim for wine. As a matter of fact, it is on the KAJ Pesach list. If you Google “kaj pesach list” it is alphabetical. You go down to wine, you get a list of Hechsherim they accept. Now they say right away there may be other good Hechsheirim. These are the ones they know are good. Well what I did is I made a copy of that list, scotch taped it onto the wall in the place where I keep my wine and if it is not on the list I don’t use it. This is because you can’t just use any wine because it has a Hechsheir. Some wines are made in far flung places, and therefore, it is very hard to give a Hechsher on wine. If something goes wrong for a minute and the machine button is pushed by an Aino Yehudi it makes the wine not good.
As a matter of fact, there are issues even with transporting the grapes. Grapes are transported by dump trucks and they are dumped into receptacles. Even that dumping may constitute pouring of the grape juice which is at the bottom of the dump truck which accumulates. It is a very complicated and difficult issue. Without getting into all of the details, you should be careful with which wine you drink. Yayin Yashan, Yayin Chadash, whatever it is you like. A’bi Yayin L’chvod Shabbos Kodesh.
Wishing one and all an absolutely wonderful, Gevaldige, extraordinary and best Shabbos ever. Prepare for Masechtas Megillah. Those of you who don’t learn Daf Yomi prepare, cheat, start ahead of time. Why not? IY”H you will make a Siyum in a couple of weeks and you will be happy you did. Be well!