Parshas Vayeishev

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By Rabbi Shloimie Lindenbaum

אלה תולדות יעקב יוסף (פרק לז פסוק ב)

The Parsha introduces the story of Yosef and his brothers by stating “these are the chronicles (or offspring, see Rashi) of Yaakov, Yosef etc.” Simply, the Pasuk is saying that Yaakov’s life story was shaped through the following story regarding Yosef. The Chofetz Chaim, however, explains on a deeper level the Pasuk is telling us that to predict the future story of “Yaakov”- referring to the entirety of the Jewish People- one can look at the life of Yosef. Yosef was the most beloved son, and his brothers hated him for it. They did everything in their power to get rid of him until eventually he was sent to a foreign land with a bleak-looking future. He went through various tests and difficulties there, at every turn seeming as if he was doomed forever and nothing would ever become of him. Eventually, he rose to power, ironically through the very occurrences that seemed to be against him. Afterwards his brothers came, bowed to him, and finally admitted their wrongdoing. The Jewish Nation is very similar, being prized by Hashem and hated by the nations around them. They are sent away from their land to unfriendly nations who seem to be completely capable of wiping them out. Eventually, however, when they are saved and raised to their exalted heights, they will recognize that all the hardships they faced in גלות made them better and stronger. It was through those difficulties that they became great and rose to be princes of the world. Then all the nations will come and admit to the injustice that they perpetrated, and truth will reign.

בעוד שלשת ימים ישא פרעה את ראשך מעליך (פרק מ פסוק יט)

The Parsha ends off with Yosef correctly interpreting the dreams of the שר המשקים ושר האופים. He tells the שר האופים that his dream of carrying three baskets on his head and the birds eating the bread from on top, is a prediction of how in three days he will be killed by Pharoah. Where did Yosef see in his dream that he will be killed? R’ Meir Shapiro answered with a story. There was once a very talented artist who came to the town square to sell his paintings. One of the paintings depicted a man carrying fruit. Soon after he displayed the painting publicly people noticed that there were living birds attempting to eat the fruit from the painting. Apparently, his art was so realistic that even the birds thought the fruit was real! A wise man saw what was going on and pointed out that while it was impressive, it wasn’t truly realistic. If the birds thought that the whole painting was real, then they would be scared to approach the man in the painting. R’ Shapiro explained that in the dream as well, the fact that the birds were willing to eat from a basket atop a man’s head, showed Yosef that the man is not among the living and therefore the birds aren’t scared of him. That’s where he saw in the dream that the שר האופים will be killed.

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