Weekly Reading Insights: 



From The Masters Of Kabbalah and Chumash (5 Books of Moses)

13th century - "RambaN" - Rabbi Moshe ben Nachman

14th century - "Bachya" - Rabbi Bachya ben Asher

16th century - "Alsheich" - Rabbi Moshe Alshech of Tsfat

17th century - "Shelah" - Rabbi Yeshaiya Horowitz

18th century - "Ohr HaChayim" - Rabbi Chaim Ben Attar


"And G-d Almighty give you compassion......" [43:14]

The intent of this text is to suggest that Jacob's going down to Egypt alludes to our present exile at the hand of Edom, and the prophet (Jacob) saw this matter at its very inception, and so he prayed about it in a general way, which was applicable to the moment as well as to the future. This verse, according to their interpretation, contains a great mystic thought. Jacob was saying: "And G-d Almighty, by the Divine attribute of justice, give you compassion that is before Him", meaning that "He should direct you upward from the Divine attribute of justice to that of compassion." The student versed in the mystic teachings of the Torah will understand.


Rabbeinu Bachya

"..The Lord will put Pharaoh's mind at rest." [41:16]

Joseph, well aware of Pharaoh' faulty pagan beliefs, first told him that the power to reveal the meanings of dreams did not reside within him but was reserved for the superior power of G-d. By that he meant that there was a power that superseded that of the seven planets whom Pharaoh had thought of as independent forces, each supreme in governing different parts of the universe. By saying biladei Elokim, he drew attention to the discriminatory nature in which G-d supervises His universe. By saying that this Power Elokim was going to put Pharaoh's mind at ease, he introduced him to G-d the benevolent who deals with people on an individual basis. Pharaoh's relief would come from G-d not via any of the seven planets. It therefore behooves man not to turn to the stairs, the horoscopes, etc., in order to divine his destiny but to turn to his Creator. This is what he meant when he said: "G-d will set Pharaoh's mind at rest."



"Let Pharaoh select a man of understanding and wisdom and place him in charge... "[41:33]

...There is also the strange Midrash (Bereishit Rabba 90), according to which Joseph did not give bread to any Egyptian until he had circumcised himself! Surely he did not intend to convert them?...

Rather, since there is a relationship between the impurity represented by the spiritual counterpart of Egypt, sar shel mitsrayim, and the people he represents, if the people would achieve a lessened degree of impurity, their spiritual counterpart would reflect this also. Circumcising the Egyptians, might then contain the influence of the sar shel mitsrayim to some extent. Joseph used his power to have the Egyptians circumcise themselves for that reason. He knew that in this way the danger of the Jewish people succumbing to the immorality and idol worship in Egypt, would be reduced. This (plus the fact that the Shechinah, the divine presence, took up residence in Egypt early) reduced effectively the number of years the Jews would actually be enslaved in Egypt.



[Pharaoh] made him to ride in the second[-best viceroy's] chariot...and made him ruler over all [of Egypt]. (Gen. 41:43)

This hints to the celestial representative of Egypt, the most highly placed of all the celestial representatives of the seventy gentile nations. Our Sages have said that Egypt is second only to the Land of Israel, (Ketubot 112) hence "the second best chariot" is the vehicle suited for the angel representing Egypt in the Heavens. Even though Joseph rose greatly after having been elevated from the status of a slave to that of a temporal king, he did not rise sufficiently for his chariot to equal the level of that of his father until divine inspiration returned to Jacob. This is alluded to in "these are descendants of Jacob Joseph", that when Jacob was re-united with Joseph, the cherubs representing the male and female in all their innocence (cf. Kings 1 7:36) were able to unite through the covenant of circumcision in the emanation of yesod.


Ohr HaChayim

"It would be a disgrace if I were to do such a thing." (44:17)

Joseph meant that even if it were true that G-d was using this opportunity to punish the brothers for some other sin, he was neither authorized nor competent to administer such retribution. He was only authorized to deal with guilt that was obvious to him. He was entitled to judge the person in whose possession the goblet had been found.

The brothers were free to go home, however.
Joseph thought that by allowing them all to go and by keeping only Benjamin as a slave, he had appeased Yehudah. He felt certain that Yehudah had accepted the verdict. How was he to know that Yehudah would immediately begin to lambast him as is evident in the following verses.

According to our view, Yehudah reasoned with Joseph as long as he felt that they were all being punished for something they had done in the past. When he realized that innocent Benjamin was being singled out for punishment whereas they, the guilty ones, were allowed to go free, he realized that he did not confront divine judgment in the person of Joseph, but that Joseph was a capricious ruler who had framed Benjamin for reasons of his own. There was therefore no cause for the brothers to submit to what they had previously considered as divine retribution.



Ramban - credits
Adapted from the 13th century classic by the illustrious scholar, philosopher and defender of the faith, Rabbi Moshe ben Nachman-known as 'RAMBAN' or 'Nachmanides', a master kabbalist in his own right and a major link in the transmission of Jewish mysticism-based on the excellent annotated English translation, Nachmanides on the Torah, by Rabbi Dr. Charles B. Chavel

Bachya - credits
Selected with permission from the seven-volume English edition of The Torah Commentary of Rebbeinu Bachya, as translated and annotated by Eliyahu Munk. Rabbi Bachya ben Asher [1255-1340] of Saragosa, Spain, was the outstanding pupil of Rabbi Shlomo ben Aderet (the "Rashba"), a main disciple of Rabbi Moshe ben Nachman (the "Ramban"). Several books have been written about the Kabballah-based portions of R. Bachya's commentary.

Alsheich - credits
Adapted from Torat Moshe - the 16th commentary of Rabbi Moshe Alshech, the "Preacher of Zefat" on the Torah, as translated and condensed in the English version of Eliyahu Munk)

Shelah - credits
Rabbi Isaiah Horowitz was born in Prague around the year 1565. He served as Rabbi of Cracow and other congregations before he was appointed as the Rabbi of the community of Frankfurt on Main in the year 1610. In 1916, Rabbi Horowitz moved to Prague where he became the Chief Rabbi of the city. He moved to Eretz Yisrael about 1621. He was rabbi in Jerusalem and in Tiberias, where he died in or about 1630. In addition to his magnus opus, Shenei Luchot HaBrit, he also compiled an edition of the prayer-book with a comprehensive commentary. Many of his innovations, including his formulation of the Kol Nidrei prayer, have become part and parcel of the Ashkenazi Siddur.

Ohr HaChayim - credits
Selected with permission from the five-volume English edition of Ohr HaChaim: the Torah Commentary of Rabbi Chaim Ben Attar, as translated and annotated by Eliyahu Munk.
The holy Rabbi Chayim ben Moses Attar was born in Sale, Western Morocco, on the Atlantic in 1696. His immortal commentary on the Five Books Of Moses, Or Hachayim, was printed in Venice in 1741, while the author was on his way to the Holy Land. He acquired a reputation as a miracle worker, hence his title "the holy," although some apply this title only to his Torah commentary.

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