Monday, November 29, 2004

Vayeishev Recap

Last year on parshablog, on parshat Vayeishev:

In Chutzpah! I note that the brothers are shepherding in Shechem, which they had destroyed in the previous parsha. Although Yaakov initially feared a reaction from the neighboring towns, the pasuk (Bereishit 35:5:) tells us that the fear of God was put into the inhabitants of the towns and the hostile reaction did not surface. Here they are, initially shepherding in Shechem, perhaps even the flocks taken as spoils from Shechem, and Yosef has no fear to go to Shechem alone to see how things fare. Also, Tg Yonatan has two points about the sale of Yosef: it being preordained, and being linked to the destruction of Shechem.

In Dibatam Ra'ah, I discuss the word נַעַר as a verb in the second pasuk of Vayeishev, in Bereishit 37:2. The midrash gives three bad things the brothers did, or appeared to do, that Yosef reported - eating 'ever min hachai, treating the sons of Bilhah and Zilpah as servants, and secual improprieties. I show how these might be derived from the pasuk. Finally, Tg Yonatan gives on sin - that he saw them eat the ears and tails separated from the live animals. I give Perush Yonatan's explanation for this, as well as a possible derivation from the text.

In Where Does the First Pasuk Belong?, I note the relationship between the first pasuk which says that Yaakov settled in the land of his forefathers, with a similar statement about Esav in the previous parsha. I suggest it logically belongs to the previous parsha. This may relate to the order of the narrative, such that the story of Yosef actually precedes the birth of Binyamin and thus Rachel's death. Some proofs that Binyamin is not yet born - Binyamin is not mentioned; Yosef is called the ben zekunim - son of old age; and Yaakov asks "will I and your mother bow down before you?" implying that Rachel, Yosef's mother, is still alive. Then, I suggest that the following

In Brand Name Recognition? Or Lack Thereof?, מהר"א אשכנזי, based on Islamic practice, explains Yehuda's command that Tamar be burnt is a command to brand her forhead to label her a harlot. The presence of the mark is the reason harlots would typically cover their faces, and the pasuk says that Tamar did this when pretending to be one.

In A Baaaad Report, I suggest that on a peshat level, rather than דִּבָּתָם רָעָה meaning an evil report, it actually means a report as to how the shepherding is going. Proofs to this effect - nowhere do we see explicitly what the bad things he reported were, nor that the brothers hated him for it. Further, it seems to set up the story such that we understand why Yaakov sends Yosef after his brothers to find out how the shepherding is going - this is his role.

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