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(5743) Rashi (Beg. of Parsha Gen. 44:18): "Then…approached him… something into my lord’s ears" and "and let your wrath not be kindled"  



1. in the beginning of Parshat Vayigash (Gen. 44:18):

“Then Yehuda approached him and said, "Please, my lord, let now your servant speak something into my lord's ears (and let not your wrath be kindled against your servant etc.).”

Rashi cites the words:

“Then…approached him… something into my lord’s ears:”

and states,

“Let my words enter your ears.”

What is difficult in the words, “speak something into my lord’s ears”, that requires Rashi to answer with the explanation, “Let my words enter your ears”?

The commentators learn that the simple translation of, “into my lord’s ears” is that “he wanted to actually speak into his ears”.

(This means that he wanted to speak (just) into Yosef’s ears, so that no other person would be able to hear what he said)

However, one cannot explain so. For it is not honor to speak into the ears of the viceroy.

Therefore, Rashi forewarns that the translation of, “speak something into my lord’s ears” is “Let my words enter your ears.”

This is however, not understood:

We find a similar expression a few times before this, in the Torah:

  • “Avimelech got up . . and spoke all these words in their ears”
  • “Ephron . . replied . . in the ears of the sons of Cheit”
  • “He spoke to Ephron in the ears of the people of the land”

In all these places, one cannot translate that the speech was whispered into their ears.

(Certainly, Avimelech did not speak with his servants in a manner that he “whispered into their ears” (פיו באזניהם)

In addition, Ephron’s speech was not whispered into the ears of Bnei Cheit. On the contrary, his speech was to Avraham. However, even the Bnei Cheit heard his speech.

Similarly, Avraham’s speech to Ephron was in the ears of the people.)

Nevertheless, Rashi does not forewarn in all these places, that the explanation of, “in the ears etc.” is “Let my words enter your ears.” (or a similar expression). Why then, does Rashi need to explain it in our case?

It is also not understood:

Why does Rashi also cite from the verse the words, “Then (Yehuda) approached him”?

The explanation, “Let my words enter your ears” is just on the words, “speak something into my lord’s ears”.

(One cannot say that Rashi just wants to note (אנצייכענען) the (words of the) beginning of the Sidra.

For, as has been mentioned many times, if this is so, Rashi needed to begin every Sidra with its starting words. However, Rashi does not do this, unless he is explains those words).

Further, Rashi cites the words,

“and let your wrath not be kindled”

and explains,

“From here you learn that he spoke to him harshly.”

The commentators learn that, with this, Rashi is forewarning us:

 In the next verse, Rashi explains how Yehuda’s speech contained harsh words:

On the verse, “for you are like Pharaoh”, Rashi brings many explanations (from the Midrash) to explain that they were harsh words.

Similarly on the verse, “My lord asked etc.'”, Rashi writes:

“From the beginning, you came upon us with a pretext”

Therefore, Rashi states:

One should not think that the necessity for this is just form those words.

(For, on the contrary, the simple meaning of the words is, that they are not harsh words)

Rather, “From here you learn that he spoke to him harshly.”

Therefore, since we do not expressly find in the verse, any harsh words, Rashi, must bring the explanation, that all the subsequent speech, were harsh words, even when must rely on the “Midrash” to prove it.

One must however, understand Rashi’s elaborate wording, “From here you learn” when Rashi could have concisely stated, “this teaches that he spoke to him harshly”

(Without the emphasis of the words, “from here”)

For then, one would also have understood that the necessity to explain the subsequent speech, as harsh words is from, “and let your wrath not be kindled”.

For the wording, “this teaches” shows that this is not an aspect which is stated explicitly in the verse. Rather, it is a thing that requires study (א לימוד). If it would have explicitly stated (according to the simple understanding) harsh words in the verse, there would be no need to say, “this teaches that he spoke to him harshly”.

However, as has been mentioned many times. When Rashi adds “from here”, he means, with this, to negate a second place where one could seemingly derive the same aspect.

The same is here. Rashi is negating a second place from which one could seemingly derive (even though it is not stated explicitly, as aforementioned) that he spoke harsh words to him.

One must understand:

What is Rashi negating by stating, “From here you learn”?

3. The explanation of this is:

In all the aforementioned places, where it states the words, “in the ears” (and so forth) - before one comes to our verse - it is speaking about a speech that is in the presence (אנוועזנהייט) of more than one person. The words, “in the ears” comes to plainly forewarn, that the people heard the speech.

Like in the verses:

  • “Ephron . . replied to Avraham . . in the ears of the Bnei Cheit”
  • “He spoke to Ephron in the ears of the people of the land”

where the speech and negotiations (אונטערהאנדלונגען) were between Avraham and Ephron. Therefore, the verse states that he spoke in the “in the ears of the Bnei Cheit”, “in the ears of the people of the land”.

This was in the presence of the Bnei Cheit, and the people of the land in a manner that (even) they heard it. Moreover – it was with this intent.

Similarly in the verse, “he spoke all these words in their ears”, which is stated by Avimelech. “In their ears” emphasizes that Avimelech himself spoke “to all his servants”. He spoke in a manner that they all personally heard his speech (which is why it caused that “the men were very frightened”).

However, the verse,

“Then (Yehuda) approached him and said . . ‘let now your servant speak something into my lord's ears’”

is difficult to understand:

The speech was just to Yosef. In addition, it is simple that Yosef heard the speech. Therefore, what is the verse emphasizing and innovating with the words “into my lord’s ears”?

Accordingly, it is understood why Rashi also cites from the verse the words “Then (Yehuda) approached him”. For this strengthens (פארשטארקט) the question:

Without the words “Then (Yehuda) approached him”, one could answer (albeit with difficulty) that Yehuda spoke his words in a manner that all those present (his brothers etc. and the Egyptians) could hear.

Therefore, Yehuda had to emphasize, “speak . . into my lord’s ears” meaning that specifically Yosef should hear his speech.

(Even though he was only speaking to him, yet many people heard)

However, the verse emphasizes, “Then (Yehuda) approached him”. This means that, in addition to that which Yehuda and his brothers were already beforehand, standing before Yosef, and were speaking to him. Nevertheless, Yehuda specially approached him. Therefore, it is understood, that Yehuda spoke to Yosef in a unique manner (or – that just Yosef could hear his speech).

Therefore, the question returns: What is emphasized with the words, “into my lord’s ears”?

Rashi explains that there is another emphasis in the word, “into (my lord’s) ears” – “Let my words enter your ears.”:

This means that the speech should go into (אריינגיין) into his ears. This is like the wording of the Rebbe Rayatz that it does not mean just hearing but rather discerning (דערהערן).

Yehuda, wanted with his speech, to influence Yosef to change his decision (החלטתו) and to release Binyamin. Therefore, he emphasized that Yosef should “listen” (דערהערן) to his speech.

4. After Rashi explains that “into my lord’s ears” means “Let my words enter your ears” he continues. “and let your wrath not be kindled” - “From here you learn that he spoke to him harshly.”

Without the previous explanation, one could have learned that “he spoke harsh words with him”, since Yehuda said, "Please . . let now your servant speak”.

When Rashi indeed brings the maxim (כלל)

(Which Rashi maintains as the simple meaning of the verse, and brings many times in this commentary)

that whenever it states “speech” (Dibbur/ דיבור)

(Not “saying” (Amira/ אמירה))

it means harsh words (לשון קשה).

Rashi, however, negates this and states, “From here you learn”. Specifically from, “and let your wrath not be kindled”, can one learn this, and not from the wording “let now your servant speak etc.

The reason for this is understood from his previous comment “Let my words enter your ears.”, as will be explained.

5. The reason according to Pshat (הפשט) that “Dibbur” refers to harsh words, is since the word “Dibbur” is also from the wording, “He shall plague peoples etc. or alternatively an expression of leading”. Which is why it states, “take a stick and strike their skulls) – which implies authoritative rulership.

(״טול מקל והך על קדקדן״” — במובן ממשלה בתוקף)

Therefore when one uses the word “Dibbur” (not “Amira/Saying”), it means a speech with a theme of rulership (ממשלה) – harsh speech (הארבע רייד) dominating the other (געוועלטיקן אויף יענעם).

Accordingly, it comes out that any type of speech that can affect and influence (באווירקן און פועל׳ן) a person to change his mind and decision (באשלוס), even when they are soft words and beseeching (ווייכע רייד ותחנונים) – even such speech is called with the name “Dibbur”. For they contain the theme of dominion (ממשלה).

Accordingly, it is understood, why the expression, “let now your servant speak” is not a (complete) proof that he spoke harsh words to him:

After Rashi explains, “speak something into my lord’s ears” – “Let my words enter your ears”. Namely, that the speech was in a manner that would cause Yosef to listen (דערהערן) to the speech and that they should have an effect. Therefore, even when Yehuda would speak softly and with beseeching, nevertheless, since he, with his speech, wanted to change Yosef’s mind, one can call this speech “Yadber” (dominion).

Therefore, the proof of “he spoke to him harshly” is from “and let your wrath not be kindled” and this is why Rashi emphasizes, “From here you learn”.

6. The lesson from this in our Avodah is:

When Yehuda wanted to influence the viceroy of Egypt – believing him to be an Egyptian – that he should free Binyamin. He began, at the very start, to speak harshly with him – harsh and strong words.

What place is there, seemingly, for this, in logic? It could be that with softness, one can accomplish more than with harshness. Therefore, logic dictates that beforehand, one must try soft speech and beseeching. And if soft speech does not work, only then begin with harshness.

(One cannot beforehand, try harsh words and anger the other, and afterward, switch to beseeching and good words (גוטע רייד)).

However, the explanation of this is:

As long as one is dealing with external aspects (ענינים חיצוניים) – livelihood and so forth (געלט־פארדינסטן וכדומה), one conducts oneself with logical accountings (שכל׳דיקע חשבונות) and one calculates which approach is better.

However, when it comes to a matter of “his soul is attached to his (the boy's) soul”, an aspect that affects Binyamin‘s soul and Yaakov‘s soul – then one cannot make calculations as to which approach is better. One immediately begins with a whole commotion (גאנצן שטורעם).

Like the world says: “when it hurts – one screams out” (אז עס טוט-וויי -שרייט מען)

In these things, it is the opposite. Harsh words that persuade (איבערצייגן) the one hearing that this truly is important- life critical נוגע בנפש)). He is not referring to money, or position, or honor (געלט, א ביינקל, כבוד) and so forth. This causes that “Let my words enter your ears.”

He immediately begins with a commotion (שטורעם), he “bangs on the table” (קלאפט אויפן טיש), and does not concern himself with diplomatic concerns (דיפלאמאטישע חשבונות). Therefore, the other feels how this affects the one speaking in his very soul (פנימיות הנפש). Therefore, this affects the other that he should acquiesce to him and compromise (אונטערגעבן און נאכגעבן). So much so that it becomes, with ease and will (בנחת וברצון).

7. This is the lesson and teaching – from “From here you learn” – for all times and places.

When one is dealing with saving a Jewish child, from being a slave in Egypt, even when the viceroy to the king demands it (פערלאנגט עס).

It is not the time to appoint committees of great scholars (גרויסע מלומדים), who will calmly and deliberately examine the history of Yisroel in Egypt. Moreover, afterward calling a vote (אפשטימונג) on what is good and how much it will cost. In addition, contemplating what the Egyptians will say to all this, which will further require a separate committee of experts, who know the Egyptians well – eating and drinking with them etc., etc.

One must immediately, with the greatest alacrity, begin with the greatest commotion (גרעסטן שטורעם), in order to save the child from the education and conduct of Egypt. Education that is contrary to Torah, which will cause assimilation (התבוללות) – actual saving of lives (Pikuach Nefesh).

When one goes in this way, one attains, just like what happened with “Then Yehuda approached him”. Namely, that through that which Yehuda came out with a commotion, not only was there no aspect of “slaves” (עבדים) and slavery (עבדות).

Rather on the contrary,

“And Pharaoh said . . I will give you the best of the land of Egypt, and you will eat the fat of the land'”.

And even before this,

“He sent Yehuda ahead of him” - to establish for him a “house of study, from which teaching would emanate”, in Egypt. One educates the children so that they clearly know how the children of Yaakov must conduct themselves. Moreover, that they know and can be leaders (בעלי הוראה), deciding a law, applying Torah knowledge according to Halacha (לאסוקי שמעתתא אליבא דהלכתא).

Similarly, this also concerns the effluence from Above, of the level of Yosef, the Supernal Tzaddik (יוסף צדיק עליון).

When a Yid conducts himself with fortitude (שטארקייט), as it were, meaning that he asks and prays to G-d with a fortitude, as it were (מיט א תוקף כביכול). This effects that, “Joseph could not bear”. From Above, the requests of his heart are filled, for good, in all that he needs, from G-d’s Full, Open, Holy and Broad Hand.

MSichas, Shabbat Parshat Vayigash 5725

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