From The Masters Of Kabbalah and Chumash (5 Books of
13th century - "RambaN" - Rabbi Moshe ben
14th century - "Bachya" - Rabbi Bachya ben
16th century - "Alsheich" - Rabbi Moshe
Alshech of Tsfat
17th century - "Shelah" - Rabbi Yeshaiya
18th century - "Ohr HaChayim" - Rabbi Chaim
"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.
"..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was a power that superseded that of the seven planets whom Pharaoh had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.
"It would be a disgrace if I were to do such a thing."
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.
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.
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.
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)
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
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.