Vol 10.21 - Miketz 1 Spanish French Audio Video
The Rebbe answers this question based on Rashi's assertion (in his commentary on Gen. 37:33) that Isaac, Jacob's father, prophetically knew that Joseph was alive—but didn't tell Jacob. "How can I tell him," Isaac reasoned, "when G‑d chooses to keep it a secret from him?" Joseph simply followed the same logic. He knew that G‑d had sent him to Egypt for a reason, and that G‑d didn't want Jacob to know where he was. Joseph, therefore, refrained from sending a message to his father—though the knowledge that his father was mourning his supposed demise must have certainly pained him immensely.
(5734 Vol. 10, X, 129)
1. It has been mentioned many times that Rashi’s style, in his commentary on Torah, is to explain everything that is difficult and not understood in the simple meaning of the verse.
Moreover, in those aspects that require, seemingly, clarification (in the simple meaning of the verses) and yet Rashi does not explain them, this itself proves that according to Rashi’s view, they are plainly understood. So much so, that there is no need to explain them, or alternatively that they are understood from a previous comment of Rashi.
Accordingly, one must understand an extreme puzzlement that arises in the study of the simple meaning of the verses in our Parsha.
Indeed, many commentators of Torah, have addressed this, yet specifically Rashi, the foremost of the commentators in the style of Pshat (הפשטנים), does not address this, at all.
The question is:
Yosef knew of Yaakov’s great love for him. Therefore – he understood the immense pain of his father, and his mourning over him. Therefore, why did Yosef not tell his father that he was alive?!
This puzzlement is related to the time where it is specifically speaking of Yosef in our Parsha.
For, in Parshat Vayeshev, it is told that they brought Yosef to Egypt, and they sold him as a slave, and afterward he was placed in prison. Therefore, it is understood that he did not have the ability to inform his father that he is alive.
However, in the time of our Parsha, where he was made the viceroy to the king, and he had the wherewithal to do whatever he wanted, it is not understood why he would leave his father in such pain and mourning, and not inform him through the caravans that went to Canaan (or through a messenger) that he is alive, thereby enlivening his father.
2. Seemingly, it is possible to say that this puzzlement is answered according to what Rashi writes before this in Parshat Vayeshev. Namely, that the reason that Yaakov mourned his son for many days, is as it states,
“Twenty-two years, from when he left him until Yaakov went down to Egypt. . . corresponding to the twenty-two years that Yaakov did not fulfill the (precept of) honoring one's father and mother etc.”
Therefore, Yosef did not send a messenger to tell his father that he is still alive, before the twenty-two years had transpired. For the punishment of Yaakov had to be twenty-two years corresponding to the twenty-two years that he did not fulfill honoring his parents.
However, it is impossible to answer that this was Yosef’s conduct. For:
An example of this is:
There is no place to say that the Shvatim were permitted or even obligated to sell Yosef – in order to fulfill the dreams and the fulfillment of Yaakov’s punishment!
3. This can be explained by prefacing an explanation of Rashi’s words in Parshat Vayeshev that require explanation:
The reason that G-d did not reveal to Yaakov that Yosef is alive is explained by Rashi:
“Because they (the brothers) excommunicated and cursed anyone who would reveal it and they included G-d with them. (and he continues) Yitzchak, however, knew that he (Yosef) was alive, but thought: "How can I reveal it when G-d does not wish to reveal it to him."
One must understand:
Who was enjoined (נתפס) and upon whom fell this excommunication (Cherem) and curse?
One cannot explain, that “they excommunicated and cursed anyone who would reveal it to Yaakov”. In other words that the cherem applied to anyone in the world that would reveal it to Yaakov. For if so, it is not understood:
“Yitzchak, however, knew . . but said: "How can I reveal it’”.
For since the cherem applied to everyone, even Yitzchak was included in this, not to reveal it.
Therefore, one must say that that the cherem applied to just those who partnered in the cherem. Therefore, the intent of the words, “anyone who would reveal it”, just refers to anyone of those who are in that alliance and partnership in the cherem. Therefore, they needed to include G-d with them.
However, it still requires explanation:
“Yitzchak, however, knew . . but said: ‘How can I reveal it when G-d does not wish (רוצה אינו) to reveal it to him’”.
For seemingly, it should have said, “when G-d was sworn (מושבע) not to reveal it”
Therefore, from this,
4. There are those who explain Rashi’s intent, according to the Midrash Tanchuma, which is the source of Rashi’s comment. It states there:
“Then they decided: “Let us make a vow of excommunication among ourselves, lest one of us be tempted to tell our father, Jacob.” Whereupon Judah said: “Reuben is not here, and a vow of excommunication cannot be executed unless ten witnesses are present.” What did they do? They included the Holy One, blessed be He, in their pact of excommunication (by which they agreed) not to tell their father what had transpired. . And even the Holy One, blessed be He . . .did not disclose this matter to him because of the pact of excommunication.”
They explain that G-d was included in the forming and execution of the cherem (pact of excommunication) over them. For it could not be executed unless there were ten witnesses. This has nothing to do with G-d’s not revealing the matter. For the reason that G-d did not reveal was because He did not treat their cherem lightly. ().
Accordingly, it is understood why G-d partnered in the cherem (pact of excommunication). In addition, the conclusion of Rashi’s comment,
“G-d does not wish to reveal it to him” (and not that “G-d was sworn not to reveal it to him”)
is also understood:
For G-d, Himself, was not among those who were prohibited (הנאסרים) by the cherem (as aforementioned).
However, the reason that G-d did not reveal it to Yaakov was just because, “He does not wish to reveal it to him”. Therefore even Yitzchak said, "How can I reveal it’”.
However, it is impossible to explanation so, in the plain understanding of Rashi.
(In addition to that which Rashi does not explain when the cherem was formed. And on the contrary - it is probable to say that it was formed specifically after Reuven returned (who was the tenth) in order that it should apply to him as well. For if this is not so, Rashi should have explained why they did not reveal it to Reuven).
in the simple meaning of the verses, and in Rashi, there is no hint, at all, that a cherem cannot be in force unless there are ten. Therefore, Rashi should have explained it. One is therefore, seemingly, forced to explain (as aforementioned) that Rashi’s intent in, “they included G-d with them” is that even G-d, as it were, was prohibited, through this pact. Therefore, all the (aforementioned) questions are still in force.
5. The commentators of Rashi question further:
How did the Shvatim know that G-d consented to the cherem? Indeed, it is impossible to even include a mortal in a pact without his consent. Therefore, how did they include G-d without knowing his consent?
They offer many reasons how the Shvatim knew that G-d did not want to reveal it to Yaakov, and that G-d consented to their cherem:
However, (in addition to the difficulty of each explanation, themselves) one cannot explain that this is Rashi’s intent.
“Yitzchak, however, knew that he was alive, but thought: "How can I reveal it when G-d does not wish to reveal it to him” – that he is alive.
The reason that G-d did not want to reveal it is explained clearly:
“Because they excommunicated and cursed anyone who would reveal it and they included G-d with them”
Therefore, one must say that the cherem and the curse applied (not just to anyone who would reveal the entire episode of the Yosef’s sale, but) also whoever would reveal that Yosef is alive.
From the aforementioned reasons, it just proves that G-d did not reveal the entire tale of events (namely, that the Shvatim sold Yosef to a caravan of Yishmaelim and that they brought him down to Egypt etc.).
However, it would be possible to reveal to Yaakov that Yosef is alive, yet not tell Yaakov where Yosef was living and what happened to him, until after the twenty-two years. For then the famine would have occurred and Yosef would be viceroy - and Yaakov would be forced to descent to Egypt.
This would have fulfilled:
6. The explanation of all this can be understood by prefacing another puzzlement:
How is it possible that not one of the Yaakov’s sons did not awaken themselves to do Teshuva for Yosef’s sale, and confess and tell Yaakov that they sold Yosef, and that he is still alive? Especially since we find in our Parsha, that in the end, they all regretted this and,
“They said to one another, ‘In truth, we are guilty regarding our brother. We saw the anguish of his soul when he pleaded with us etc.’”
However, this was precisely the intent of their forming the cherem. Namely, that from the beginning they were concerned that afterward, when their anger was assuaged, one of them would surely have regret and want to reveal it to Yaakov (and though this, affect the others).
“they excommunicated and cursed anyone who would reveal it”.
In other words, that not one of them (or part of them) had permission to reveal the matter to Yaakov.
(However, certainly there is no supposition to say that the excommunication included, that even a situation where all of them decided to reveal it, that it would (still) be prohibited for them to reveal it).
However, there is still the concern that one of them (or a majority) would want to force the others to listen to him and to persuade them to reveal it to Yaakov. Like Rashi explains, that his brothers said, “Had you told us to return him, we would have obeyed you”. Therefore, they included G-d with them in the cherem that they formed. In other words, the decision of the matter, if (and when) to reveal it to Yaakov, was dependent upon G-d. Moreover, that even all of them together were not permitted to reveal it, and violate the cherem, except with the joining and consent of G-d.
(However, the intent is not that they included G-d in the cherem and that he was forced not to reveal it. For they did not know that G-d consented to this, as aforementioned).
The intent of the reason that G-d did not reveal it since, “they excommunicated . . and they included G-d with them etc.” is:
Since they included G-d in their pact, that they would not reveal it to Yaakov without G-d’s consent and partnership.
(Even though in the cherem that they formed, they did not intend that G-d was prohibited from revealing it without their consent) nevertheless,
G-d Himself, as it were, joined with them, that the nullification of the cherem and revealing of the matter to Yaakov would specifically be with the consent of all of them (G-d and the Shvatim) together.
Accordingly, it is understood why Rashi states:
“(Why did not G-d reveal it to him) because they excommunicated and cursed anyone who would reveal it and they included G-d with them. Yitzchak, however, knew that he was alive, but thought: "How can I reveal it when G-d does not wish to reveal it to him."”
The reason that G-d did not reveal it to Yaakov was not because He was forced to fulfill the cherem that the Shvatim made. Rather, because He did not want to reveal it to him, as aforementioned. From this Yitzchak learned and said “How can I reveal it when G-d does not wish to reveal it to him”.
According to this, it also the reason why Yosef did not send someone to inform Yaakov that he is alive.
Since Yosef knew that G-d does not want to reveal it to Yitzchak, this is a directive that Yaakov does not yet need to know that he is alive. Therefore (also Yosef) said “How can I reveal it when G-d does not wish to reveal it to him”.
7. However, one must still understand:
Through the forming of the cherem – it was prohibited for the Shvatim to inform Yaakov that Yosef is alive. Moreover, how could Yosef tell them to inform Yaakov that he is alive, since G-d is not revealing it?
However, this also is explained in Rashi’s comment:
In our Parsha, on the verse,
“Jacob saw that there was grain being sold in Egypt”
“From where did he see it? . . He saw with the Divine “mirror” (באספקלריא של קדש) that he still had hope (שֶׂבֶר) in Egypt, but it was not a real prophecy to explicitly inform him that this was Joseph”.
Therefore, it is understood, that the Shvatim, who knew that Yosef is in Egypt, understood that this vision was “with the Divine mirror”. In other words, that G-d informed Yosef that the time had begun that they should search and seek out Yosef and tell Yaakov.
Therefore, Rashi states, “The brothers went down: “They regretted selling him and decided to behave toward him in a brotherly manner (באחוה) and to ransom him for whatever amount of money would be demanded of them”.
The same was with Yosef’s notification. When he saw that they were endeavoring to find him, he understood that there is something to the matter (שיש דברים בגו). However, since he did not know with certainty that the time had come, and moreover and primarily, that if he would inform Yaakov before the Shvatim informed him – it would harm Yaakov's relationship with them.
Therefore, he did not inform Yaakov himself though a messenger etc. Rather he said to the Shvatim, “I am Yosef, your brother”, and they, who had made the cherem, certainly knew that G-d wanted to reveal it to Yaakov. Therefore they said to Yaakov, “Yosef is still alive”.
MSichas Shabbat Parshat Miketz 5733
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