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(5738) Rashi (37:14): "and he came to Shechem"
Rashi: and he came to Shechem: a place destined for misfortune. There the tribes sinned, there Dinah was violated, there the kingdom of the house of David was divided, as it is said: “And Rehoboam went to Shechem” (I Kings 12:1). (From Sanh. 102a)
1. On the verse (Gen, 37:14):
“So he said to him (Yisroel to Yosef), "Go now and see to your brothers' welfare . . So he sent him . . and he came to Shechem”.
Rashi comments on the words: “and he came to Shechem“ and writes:
“And he came to Shechem: a place destined for misfortune etc. “
ויבא שכמה: מקום מוכן לפורענות, שם קלקלו השבטים, שם ענו את דינה, שם נחלקה מלכות בית דוד, שנאמר (מ"א י"ב א) וילך רחבעם שכמה וגו'
(As will be explained Par. 3)
One must understand:
What is difficult here, in the simple understanding of the verse, that prompts Rashi to explain that Shechem is a “a place destined for misfortune etc.”?
The commentators learn that that since it states previously:
"Are your brothers not pasturing in Shechem?"
It is not necessary (נויטיק) for Scripture to repeat that “(and he came) to Shechem“. It should have just stated that “he came there” (and we would have known that it means Shechem).
Therefore, since the verse emphasizes “and he came to Shechem“, it implies that it means to refer the well-known Shechem – the one that is “a place destined for misfortune”.
However, according to the simple meaning it is difficult to say that this is Rashi’s intent since:
For example, in our Parsha it states:
“So Yosef’s master took him and put him into prison, . . and he was there in the prison. . all the prisoners who were in the prison etc.”
In other words, according to Pshat, there is no question why Scripture clearly states as well as repeats the name of a place.
“And Israel said to Yosef, “Are your brothers not pasturing in Shechem?”
For even there it is, seemingly, not necessary to state that they were “pasturing in Shechem” since it already states so in the previous verse (v12) “And his brothers went to pasture their father's flocks in Shechem” (and even there it would have been sufficient to state “come, and I will send you to your brothers” and so forth).
2. Other commentators learn that Rashi is trying to explain why it has to state the words “and he came to Shechem” at all. What difference does it make where the “man found him etc.”? Therefore, Rashi explains that this is because Shechem is a “a place destined for misfortune etc.”.
However, even this explanation is not understood plainly:
Since the verse tells that Yosef’s brothers were in Shechem, Yaakov sent Yosef to them – it is simple that it is the style of Scripture to tell that Yosef went to the place where he was sent – in Shechem.
In the following verse, it is told how Yosef was “straying in the field” and said to the “man” that “I am looking for my brothers” And the man said, "They have traveled away from here” -
Therefore it is plain that for the purpose of the story it must first mention in the verse that Yosef came to Shechem (for otherwise, the continuation of the story: “straying in the field. .I am looking for my brothers . . They have traveled away from here” does not fit).
3. Further on Rashi continues
“There the tribes sinned, there Dinah was violated, there the kingdom of the house of David was divided, as it is said: ‘And Rehoboam went to Shechem’”
One must understand:
Seemingly, it is the opposite. The word “Kilkul” also fits with an aspect that is not severe
(Like Rashi states previously regarding Reuven that “Even when relating his iniquity (הקלקלה) he is called the firstborn“).
(Note: the word “Kilkul” although translated here as “sinned”, may not refer to a harsh sin, but rather just to a faltering)
Therefore, here, where it is speaking of the sale of Yosef, which was a severe incident, why does Rashi say that “Shechem is where the tribes (merely) “Kilkilu/sinned”?
It states (in Shoftim)
“And Abimelech the son of Jerubbaal went to . . and killed his brothers etc. “.
Why doesn’t Rashi cite this misfortune?
(One cannot say that this is because this was not a misfortune for Klal Yisroel – since even “there Dinah was violated” only affected a part (of Yisroel).
As Rashi already previously cited that in Shechem “Yisroel accepted the oath to abide by the Torah”
(And as it states in Prophets that Yehoshua formed a covenant with the Yidden for the fulfillment of Torah and Mitzvot).
In addition, Rashi states (ibid) that there Avraham heard from G-d, regarding the “tidings of (his having) children” and for the “tidings (that they would inherit) Eretz Yisroel”.
Therefore, what is the necessity, according to the simple understanding of the verse, to state that specifically Shechem is “a place destined for misfortune”?
4. The reason that Rashi states “There the tribes sinned” and not “(the brothers) sold Yosef“ can be explained, that Rashi follows his view in his commentary on Torah:
On the words “Let us go to Dothan“ Rashi explains:
“‘Let us go to Dothan: to seek regarding you legal pretexts (נִכְלֵי דָתוֹת), by which they could put you to death. According to its simple meaning, however, it is the name of a place, and a Biblical verse never loses its simple sense. “
The reason that Rashi adds after both explanations “a Biblical verse never loses its simple sense“–
which is not found (in general) in other places where he cites two explanations (according to “Aggadah” and according to “the simple sense”) –
is because his intent is to explain that even according to the first explanation (namely to seek legal pretexts) the dictum “a Biblical verse never loses its simple sense“ applies and Dothan refers to the “name of a place”.
This means (as the commentators explain) that in the words “Let us go to Dothan”, both aspects are implied:
It comes out that according to Rashi’s view in his commentary on Torah – the simple understanding of the verse - the sale of Yosef (according to both explanations) did not occur in Shechem, but rather in Dothan. Therefore, Rashi cannot say the same wording as the Talmud and Tanchuma – “In Shechem, they sold Yosef“.
(In his commentary on the Talmud, Rashi forewarns this question and explains:
‘Dothan’ that is written in Scripture is a village that is near Shechem. It is called so after the name Shechem. Another interpretation, it is like its Midrash, that it was there that they judged him to kill him.
(And as he explains in another place that (according to this Midrash) – “Dothan is not a place” –
However, according to the simple understanding of the verse, Dothan is “the name of a place”. And it is not probable that Shechem should be “destined for misfortune” due to the misfortune that occurred in a village close to Shechem.
(Also: since the verse emphasizes that this is a second place, as it states:
“They have traveled away from here, for I overheard them say, 'Let us go to Dothan “,
it is difficult to say, according to the simple understanding of the verse that this was (a “village that is near Shechem“ that is) “called so after the name Shechem“)).
Therefore, Rashi explains that “There (in Shechem) the tribes sinned” – not the sale, but an aspect (lighter than this) of faulty deed/Kilkul.
One must however, understand:
Since the sale of Yosef was (not there, but) in Dothan. What does Rashi mean by the words “There the tribes sinned”?
5. The explanation of all this is:
In simplicity, the plain meaning of the words of the Sages: “a place destined for misfortune“ is that Yosef came to a place where it was “a place destined for misfortune” in general
(Like the continuation of the comment where it lists the misfortunes that occurred there).
Therefore, there also occurred with him, at that place, an aspect of misfortune – his sale).
However, in order to forewarn that this is not his intent, according to Pshat, in explaining the meaning of the words: “a place destined for misfortune”, Rashi changes the order of the misfortunes and states at the beginning “There the tribes sinned”. This indeed, is the actual occurrence of misfortune of which it speaks of here in the verses, with regard to Yosef.
With this Rashi makes clear that with the words “a place destined for misfortune” he is referring to the detail – just with regard to Yosef in conjunction (צוזאמנהאנג) with his sale. In other words, his coming to Shechem began (the preparation to) his misfortune for “There the tribes sinned” (as will be explained in Par. 6).
(Therefore it is understood that even the other two misfortunes which Rashi cites (“there Dinah was violated”, “there the kingdom of the house of David was divided”) have a connection with that which Shechem is “a place destined for misfortune” for Yosef, (as will be explained in Par. 7).
6. The necessity for this explanation – is the question that is stated in the words – which Rashi cites in (the heading) “and he came to Shechem“:
Since the verse (““So he said to him, ‘Go . . he sent him etc.“) suffices with the words “and he came to Shechem“ and only in the following verse begins the particulars of the story that occurred there “a man found him etc.“ This implies that Yosef’s coming to Shechem was, in and of itself, a critical aspect in the story of (Yosef‘s sale). This means, that his coming there was not coincidental, but that it is necessary for us to know that he came there.
It is not understood:
Yosef’s brothers at that time were already not in Shechem but rather in Dothan (as aforementioned Par. 3). Therefore, Yosef’s coming to Shechem was just in passing through, going (from there further along the way) to his brothers in Dothan.
Even if we say that for the purpose of the story it must tell us (as aforementioned Par. 2) that Yosef came to Shechem – why is it necessary to single out his coming there as an individual aspect. It could have stated that “a man found him in Shechem and behold etc.“ (The emphasis that “he came to Shechem“ is seemingly superfluous).
Therefore, on this Rashi states:
“And he came to Shechem: a place destined for misfortune. There the tribes sinned etc. “.
In other words, Yosef’s coming to Shechem was not incidental in the story of the Yosef’s sale but it is a critical aspect in and of itself. For this is the place where his misfortune began, since “there the tribes sinned”. It is indeed true that the sale of Yosef, first occurred in Dothan. However, the “faltering/Kilkul” of the Shvatim already happened (when they were) in Shechem. There they began to think and prepare for him the misfortune – “to seek regarding you legal pretexts, by which they could put you to death“.
7. The connection of the following two misfortunes (“there Dinah was violated”, “there the kingdom of the house of David was divided”) with that of Shechem being “a place destined for misfortune” for Yosef is:
Rashi, explained beforehand that Yosef:
“Would tell his father: 1) that they ate limbs from living animals, 2) that they demeaned the sons of the handmaids by calling them slaves, and 3) that they were suspected of illicit sexual relationships. For these three (tales) he was punished: For (the report that his brothers ate) limbs from living animals, “they slaughtered a kid” (Gen. 37:31) when they sold him, and did not eat it alive. For the report that he told about them that they called their brothers slaves, “Yosef was sold as a slave” (Ps. 105:17), and concerning the illicit sexual relationships that he told about them, “his master’s wife lifted her eyes, etc.” (Gen. 39:7). “
Since the punishment of Yosef is connected with three things:
One must say that Shechem, where the preparation and beginning of his misfortune and punishment occurred, is “a place destined for misfortune” – for three types of misfortune. Similar to the three aspects in Yosef’s speech against his brothers.
According to this, the questions (that are in Par. 3) are resolved automatically, namely that we find that there occurred in Shechem other misfortunes, and also good things. For according to the simple understanding of the verse, Shechem is “a place destined for misfortune” only with regard to Yosef.
Whereas for all Yidden – and especially that at that place, the occurred the forming of a covenant between Yehoshua and all the Yidden for the fulfillment of Torah and Mitzvot.
MSichas Shabbat Parshat Vayeshev 5737
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