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Mazal tov to David and Rebecca Khabinsky on their marriage this past Sunday! שתזכו לבנות בית נאמן בישראל!

Mazal tov to Jason and Lolly Zaer, who were also married on Sunday! שתזכו לבנות בית נאמן בישראל!

Rav Krohn, our Director of Admissions, will be embarking on an interview trip to the United States this Sunday. Over the next two weeks, Rav Krohn will visit San Diego, Los Angeles, Seattle, Boca Raton, Silver Spring, Boston, West Hartford, Memphis, and Columbus. Rav Wolicki and Rav Kahn will also be conducting interviews in other cities later this month. If you would like an interview, please tell your Israel guidance counselor or contact the yeshiva office at

On Thursday night, Rav Chaim Cohen gave the sicha ruchanit on the topic of, "The Definition of a Champion". Following the mishmar cholent and snacks, Rav Wolicki gave a shiur on, "Understanding Yaakov's Beracha to Ephraim and Menasheh", Rav Kahn discussed, "Stealing the Beracha: The Unintended Consequences" (download here), and Rav Arram gave a shiur on, "Getting into Sinning".

12 Tevet 5775
Rabbi Scott Kahn

Were The Brothers Silly to Worry?
By Rabbi Moshe Simkovich

After יעקב is buried in the מערת המכפלה, the family finishes mourning and then returns to מצרים. The brothers of יוסף are now anxious – now that their father is gone, will יוסף decide to take revenge?

Were they justified to have this suspicion? We the readers have insight based on knowing the response that יוסף will give… we trust him. However, were the brothers so off base?

I would argue that they had reason to worry. Looking back at the previous פרשיות, the brothers had been given a very hard time. WE understand it as יוסף making sure they had changed and were ready to be trustworthy brothers. But the brothers may have understood it otherwise… in fact,רמב”ן understood it otherwise.

רמב”ן may have been troubled by the tests the brothers were put through. But more so, and explicitly, he was troubled by the fact that in all his years in מצרים, יוסף never sent word to his father that he was still alive. How could he have been so cruel? The answer רמב”ן offers is that יוסף was driven by his interpretation of his dreams – יוסף saw the dreams as an obligation to actualize, however and whatever it takes to do so. And so, he created the situations that would enact the predictions of the dreams.

There are two problems about יוסף following his dreams:

1. Can one be sure an interpretation is correct? Even with a good interpreter, bias can come into play. This, according to the Gemara in ברכות, is the classic pitfall of the interpreter, illustrated by the famous story of בר הדיה. He interpreted identical dreams that רבא & אביי had, consistently interpreting the dreams of אביי in a positive manner and רבא in a negative manner. Why? אביי paid for every interpretation, רבא did not. As hard as it was for רבא to at first believe someone given the gift of interpretation to be so mercenary, בר הדיה really, really, liked money.

Just as בר הדיה was influenced, others can be. יוסף in his youth may have been emotionally or rationally biased against his brothers, and interpreted his dreams in part through the response he received from his brothers. And who knows – perhaps יוסף still was angry at them, and had not expressed it out of respect to his father. Who knows – perhaps there was still another negative part of the dream to fulfill?

2. ר’ צדוק הכהן assumed that יוסף was beyond such bias; thus we call him יוסף הצדיק, beyond lust and corruption. And yet, it is still not conclusive that whatיוסף did was right. Along these lines, Rav Yitzchak Twersky of Boston gave a שלש סעודות talk in 1987 . In it he quoted the Netziv, who gave the following explanation of why יעקב said קריאת שמע when he finally saw יוסף.

והיתה לאביו תרעומת בלבו עליו. כי אע”ג שיעקב שמר דבר-החלום ולא התקנא בו, מכל מקום
לא באופן שיוסף עצמו יהא גורם לדבר, להשפיל את אביו לפניו. על כן מה עשה להסיח דעתו כרגע? קרא ק”ש בדביקות.

Jacob was hurt within by him. Even though he silently tracked the ramifications of Joseph’s dreams and was not envious, he never thought that Joseph himself would enact the dreams in a manner that would humble his father before him. So what did he do to take his mind off it (at the moment of their first meeting)? He devoutly recited the Shema.
The Talner Rebbe concluded “a person is not exempt from acting ethically and halachically even when he is convinced that he is implementing part of a providential scheme.”
Following either way above, the brothers had reason to be concerned, no matter what reassurance יוסף gave them. The events of the final days of יעקב may have contributed to this anxiety – for hadn’t יוסף been granted a double portion (through his sons) at their expense? Hadn’t he alone been given an actual explicit blessing in the final words יעקב gave to his sons? Wasn’t their position weak?
And after all, who was יוסף? A person whose dreams led to conclusions only he could know, and who had tremendous power to enact what he interpreted. How could they avoid worry!

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