Rabbi Pinchas ben Pilta (Bris Shalom) and The Dreams of Parshas Miketz

(This dvar Torah on parshas Miketz in dedicated in honor of my nephew Aharon Akivas’ Bar Mitzvah.  Son of my  brother Mordechai Pelta who is living San Francisco CA.  May this inspire you to explore  the vast beauty of our Jewish heritage and live a life dedicated to the 613 mitzvos of our Torah.  “From Israel Torah springs forth!” )

בראשית מא: כה

וַיֹּאמֶר יוֹסֵף אֶל-פַּרְעֹה, חֲלוֹם פַּרְעֹה אֶחָד הוּא:  אֵת אֲשֶׁר הָאֱלֹהִים עֹשֶׂה, הִגִּיד לְפַרְעֹה.

Yosef said to Paroh, “The dream of Par oh is a single one; what G-d is about to do, He has told to Paroh:

All I Have To Do Is Dream

Paroh had two dreams; one was about seven cows and the other was about seven sheaves of grain.  Yosef explains that these two dreams are really one dream referring to a time period of seven years of plenty followed by seven years of famine.

Based upon this, Rav Pinchas ben Pilta asks several questions. Why did Yosef need to explain that Paroh’s dreams are really one? Furthermore, this can be can be deduced by itself based upon the interpretation of the dreams.

A second question.  Why does the pasuk state ” what G-d is about to do”?  Up until now we did not know that G-d is in charge? What is this hinting to?  Literally, the pasuk states “what G-d is doing”   “הָאֱלֹהִים עֹשֶׂה”, that is what G-d is doing in the present tense. This not the accurate tense, since Yosef is referring to what G-d will do in the future. So why is this stated in the present tense? It should be written G-d  “will do” “יעשה””” not “עשה””.

A third question.  Why is the topic of “what G-d is about to do” אשר האלקים     עשה ” ,  repeated twice? Yosef states this in pasuk 25 than again in pasuk 29.

בראשית מא:כח

הוּא הַדָּבָר, אֲשֶׁר דִּבַּרְתִּי אֶל-פַּרְעֹה, אֲשֶׁר הָאֱלֹהִים עֹשֶׂה, הֶרְאָה אֶת-פַּרְעֹה.

It is this matter that I have spoken to Paroh, What G-d is about to do He has shown Paroh. (Bereishis 41:28)

Let’s begin to answer the above questions.

The Talmud Berachos , 55 a ,  there are 3 things that G-d himself announces 1) famine 2) plenty/ wealth 3) parnassah

ברכות תלמוד בבלי דף נה עמוד א

אמר רבי יוחנן שלשה דברים מכריז עליהם הקב”ה בעצמו ואלו הן רעב ושובע ופרנס טוב

Rav Yochanan said: There are three things that G-d Himself proclaims.  These are: famine, plenty, and a good leader (Talmud Bavli, Berachos 55a)    

We have these three things hinted to in Paroh’s dream: years of famine in Egypt, years of plenty for Egypt, and Yosef was to become very wealthy from his interpretation of the dream, in addition to becoming the leader of Egypt.

When Yosef explained that the two dreams were actually one, he was not referring to the fact that the two dreams  had one interpretation.  Rather, he was referring to fact that G-d is personally in charge the years of famine, plenty and that he was going to be in the Leader of Egypt.

This is spelled out in the following pesukim where its states that Paroh recognized the genius of Yosef and therefore put him in charge.

בראשית מא:לג-לד, מ

וְעַתָּה יֵרֶא פַרְעֹה, אִישׁ נָבוֹן וְחָכָם; וִישִׁיתֵהוּ, עַל-אֶרֶץ מִצְרָיִם: יַעֲשֶׂה פַרְעֹה, וְיַפְקֵד פְּקִדִים עַל-הָאָרֶץ; וְחִמֵּשׁ אֶת-אֶרֶץ מִצְרַיִם, בְּשֶׁבַע שְׁנֵי הַשָּׂבָע…אתה תהיה על ביתי ועל פיך ישק כל עמי, הכסא אגדל ממך:

“Now let Paroh seek out a discerning and wise man and set him over the land of Egypt.  Let Paroh proceed and let him appoint overseers on the land, and he shall prepare the land of Egypt during the seven years of abundance…You shall be in charge of my palace and by your command shall all my people be sustained; only by the throne shall I outrank you (Bereishis 41:33-34, 40).

Paroh, therefore wanted Yosef in charge because he learned from Yosef that these three things were constantly in G-d’s hands. G-d always takes care of these three things personally; this with why the word עשה , is used, in the present tense.

This seemingly repetition of the pesukim is not a repetition but it is rather hinting to the three things G-d presently always keeps in his personal control (He does not use the medium of angels no messengers),  as is stated above.

Now with this background we can analyze the pesukim in depth.  Later on Paroh clarifies that Yosef is in charge of Egypt, however Paroh himself still retains his superiority over Yosef.

בראשית מא:מד

וַיֹּאמֶר פַּרְעֹה אֶל יוֹסֵף, אֲנִי פַרְעֹה; וּבִלְעָדֶיךָ, לֹא יָרִים אִישׁ אֶת יָדוֹ וְאֶת רַגְלוֹ בְּכָל אֶרֶץ מִצְרָיִם.

Paroh said to Yosef, “I am Paroh. And without  you no man may lift up his hand or foot in all of Egypt.”  states –”Paroh said to Yosef, I am Paroh, except for me Yosef, no one will be above you, no one raise his hand or foot ,  in all of Egypt” )Bereishis 41:44)

In Targum Yonasan it explains that Paroh said, ” I am the king and I am the alkafta (leader).  What does that meant to be the alkafta?

Talmud Bava Kamma 66b , does changing person name change the action or not ? 22 yrs later got  answer , yes.

תלמוד בבלי בבא קמא סו עמוד ב

מתקיף לה רבה בר רב חנן והלא עיצבא שנו כאן ועיצבא אין צריכה קיצוע דתנן כל מקום שאין חסרון מלאכה מחשבה מטמאתו יש חסרון מלאכה אין מחשבה מטמאתו חוץ מן העיצבא אלא אמר רבא האי מילתא קשי בה רבה לרב יוסף עשרין ותרתין שנין ולא איפרקה עד דיתיב רב יוסף ברישא ופרקה שינוי השם כשינוי מעשה דמי שינוי מעשה מאי טעמא התם מעיקרא עצים השתא כלים שינוי השם נמי מעיקרא קרו ליה משכא והשתא אברזין

Rabba bar Rav Chanan objected: But is it not so that the Mishna is teaching here about a tray?  And a tray does not require trimming, when one designates a hide for use as a tray! And how do we know that this Mishna refers to a tray?  For we learned in the preceding Mishna: Wherever further processing is not lacking, “thought” renders it susceptible to tumah, except in the case of a tray.  Rather, Rava said: Rabbah challenged Rav Yosef with this problem for twenty-two years, and it was not resolved until Rav Yosef, upon the death of Rabbah, sat at the head of the Yeshiva and resolved it as follows: A change of name is the same as a physical change. Just as a physical change in a stolen article effects acquisition by the thief, so too a change in the stolen article’s name effects acquisition by the thief.  For what is the reason that a physical change effects acquisition?  Because in that case the stolen article was originally wood and now it is a utensil.  So too with respect to a change of name ( like with the hides): Originally they called it a “hide” and now they call it a “tray.” (Talmud Bavli, Berachos 66b)

Rav Yosef In the Talmud Was Connected To Yosef Hatzadik

Why did it take Rav Yosef twenty-two years and acquiring the title Rosh haYeshiva, prior to his ability to answer the question of Rabbah? Why was it necessary to know that it took twenty-two years in order to answer to this question?

Talmud Berachos )64a) and Talmud Horayos (14a),  tell the story that the Rabbis in Bavel  wanted either  Rabba or Rav Yosef to be the Rosh haYeshiva. They requested assistance from the Rabbis of  Eretz Yisrael, to help them select a proper candidate.  They were told that “Sinai, the one who uproots mountains is better”. Rashi explains, they called Rav Yosef “Sinai”, because he was expert in Mishna and Braisos,  and his Torah learning was as clear to him as if it was received personally at Har Sinai.  Whereas,  Rabba was called the up rooter of mountains, because  he was very sharp and skilled in “pilpul” Talmudic logic reasoning.  Nonetheless,  Rav Yosef  refuses to be Rosh haYeshiva first, since the astrologers predicted said that he would only be in power two years and then he would die.  He was not ready die so soon, therefore, he allowed Rabba be Rosh haYeshiva for twenty-two years and they he followed him as leader for two and a half years.

ברכות סד עמוד א

אמר ר’ אבין הלוי כל הדוחק את השעה שעה דוחקתו וכל הנדחה מפני השעה שעה נדחת מפניו מדרבה ורב יוסף. דרב יוסף סיני ורבה עוקר הרים אצטריכא להו שעתא שלחו להתם סיני ועוקר הרים איזה מהם קודם שלחו להו סיני קודם שהכל צריכין למרי חטיא אף על פי כן לא קבל עליו ר’ יוסף דאמרי ליה כלדאי מלכת תרתין שנין מלך רבה עשרין ותרתין שנין מלך רב יוסף תרתין שנין ופלגא כל הנך שני דמלך רבה אפילו אומנא לביתיה לא קרא:

           Abin the Levite said: Whoever tries to force his [good] fortune will be dogged by [ill] fortune, and whoever forgoes his [good] fortune will postpone his [ill] fortune. This we can illustrate from the case of Rabbah and Rav. Yosef. For Rav Yosef, in the great breadth of his knowledge, was referred to as “Sinai” and Rabbah, who was unusual sharp and analytical, was said to be “an up rooter of mountains”, that is, an expert in the most exacting analysis of the Torah. The time came when one of them was needed [to be head of the Academy]. They [the Rabbis in Bavel] sent there [to Eretz Yisrael] to ask, as between ‘Sinai’ and an ‘up rooter of mountains’, which should have the preference? They sent answer: “Sinai”, for all are needful of the master of wheat. Nevertheless, R. Yosef would not accept the post, because the astrologers had told him that he would be head for only two years, [and then he would die]. Rabbah thereupon remained head for twenty-two years, and R. Yosef after him for two years and a half. During all the time that Rabbah was head, R. Yosef did not so much as summon a blood letter to come to his house. (Talmud Bavli Berachos 64a)

In Talmud Horayos (14a) compared Rav Yosef, who possessed a vast Torah knowledge, to  a wheat merchant.  Why?

Talmud Sanhedrin (42a) explains that they called Rav Yosef  “wheat” and the  “strength of an ox”. Tosafos clarifies, that this is similar to Yosef HaTzadik, who was blessed by Yaakov Avinu as a בכור שור , “A firstborn, his ox, glory unto him, and the horns of a re’em are his horns; with them shall he gore peoples together, the ends of the earth, they are the myriads of Efraim and they are the thousands of Menashe (Devarim 33:17).   Just as everyone needs wheat for survival, so too everyone needs Torah for guidance.

סנהדרין מב עמוד א

            קרי רב יוסף אנפשיה “ורב תבואות בכח שור”:

Rav Yosef  applied to himself [the verse]: “Much increase [of grain] is by the strength of the ox. (Mishlei 14:4 , where Yoseph is symbolically compared to an ox) (Talmud Bavli Sanhedrin 42a)

This needs clarification.  We need some tools to understand the words of the Rabbis.  In Talmud Berachos (55b), Rav Levi teaches one to wait the fulfillment and realization of a good dream. This is learned from the twenty-two years that Yosef waited in prison; after this period of time his dreams were fulfilled.  He was thirty years old when stood in front of Paroh: 30 years – 17years = 13 + 7 years plenty + 2 years of famine = 22 years.

ברכות נה עמוד א, נה עמוד ב

הנביא אשר אתו חלום יספר חלום ואשר דברי אתו ידבר דברי אמת מה לתבן את הבר נאם ה’ וכי מה ענין בר ותבן אצל חלום אלא אמר ר’ יוחנן משום ר’ שמעון בן יוחי כשם שאי אפשר לבר בלא תבן כך אי אפשר לחלום בלא דברים בטלים אמר ר’ ברכיה חלום אף על פי שמקצתו מתקיים כולו אינו מתקיים מנא לן מיוסף דכתיב (בראשית לז, ט) והנה השמש והירח וגו’

וההיא שעתא אמיה לא הות אמר א”ר לוי לעולם יצפה אדם לחלום טוב עד כ”ב שנה מנלן מיוסף דכתיב (בראשית לז, ב) אלה תולדות יעקב יוסף בן שבע עשרה שנה וגו’ וכתיב (בראשית מא, מו) ויוסף בן שלשים שנה בעמדו לפני פרעה וגו’ מן שבסרי עד תלתין כמה הוי תלת סרי ושב דשבעא ותרתי דכפנא הא כ”ב

A prophet that hath a dream let him tell a dream: and he that hath My word let him speak My word faithfully. What has the straw to do with the wheat, says the Lord. What is the connection of straw and wheat with a dream? The truth is, said R. Yochanan in the name of R. Simeon b. Yochai, that just as wheat cannot be without straw, so there cannot be a dream without some nonsense. R. Berekiah said: While a part of a dream may be fulfilled, the whole of it is never fulfilled. Whence do we know this? From Joseph, as it is written, And behold the sun and the moon [and eleven stars bowed down to me,] at that time his mother was not living. R. Levi said: A man should await the fulfilment of a good dream for as much as twenty-two years. Whence do we know this? From Joseph. For it is written: These are the generations of Jacob. Joseph being seventeen years old, etc.;  and it is further written, And Joseph was thirty years old when he stood before Pharaoh.  How many years is it from seventeen to thirty? Thirteen. Add the seven years of plenty and two of famine,  and you have twenty-two. (Talmud Bavli Berachos 55a and 55b)

Rav Yosef was blind and he was named after Yosef in the Torah.  What occurred  to Yosef Hatzadik also occurred  to Rav Yosef.  Just as Yosef did not rule until after twenty-two years, so too Rav Yosef did not become Rosh HaYeshiva until after the tenure of Rabbah’s twenty-two years.

This is why Rav Yosef is called wheat and Rabba is called straw,  Yosef is compared to an ox  etc.  This  is what Rabbis in Talmud are hinting at,  by calling Rav Yosef wheat.  Just as Yosef in Egypt amassed food and then sold it, so too Rav Yosef amassed a vast amount of Torah knowledge to teach.  In this manner we can now see that both Yosef Ha Tzadik and Rav Yosef were connected to one another, and what occurred to one occur the other.

Moshe blessed Yosef as a first born ox.

ספר דברים לג:יג-יז, פרשת וזאת הברכה

וּלְיוֹסֵף אָמַר, מְבֹרֶכֶת ה אַרְצוֹ, מִמֶּגֶד שָׁמַיִם מִטָּל, וּמִתְּהוֹם רֹבֶצֶת תָּחַת: וּמִמֶּגֶד, תְּבוּאֹת שָׁמֶשׁ; וּמִמֶּגֶד, גֶּרֶשׁ יְרָחִים:  וּמֵרֹאשׁ, הַרְרֵי-קֶדֶם; וּמִמֶּגֶד, גִּבְעוֹת עוֹלָם:  וּמִמֶּגֶד, אֶרֶץ וּמְלֹאָהּ, וּרְצוֹן שֹׁכְנִי, סְנֶה; תָּבוֹאתָה לְרֹאשׁ יוֹסֵף, וּלְקָדְקֹד נְזִיר אֶחָיו: בְּכוֹר שׁוֹרוֹ הָדָר לוֹ, וְקַרְנֵי רְאֵם קַרְנָיו–בָּהֶם עַמִּים יְנַגַּח יַחְדָּו, אַפְסֵי-אָרֶץ; וְהֵם רִבְבוֹת אֶפְרַיִם, וְהֵם אַלְפֵי מְנַשֶּׁה:

And of Yosef he said: Blessed by Hashem is his land- with the delicacies of the heavens, with dew; and with the deep waters crouching below. And with the delicacies of the sun’s crops; and the delicacies of the moons yield.  And with the beginning of the early mountains; and with the delicacies of the eternal hills.  And with the delicacies of the land and its fullness; and by the goodwill of Him Who rests in the thorn bush; may it come to Yosef’s head, and to the crown of the head of the withdrawn one of his brothers.  A firstborn, his ox, glory unto him, and the horns of a re’em are his horns; with them shall he gore peoples together, the ends of the earth; they are the myriads of Efraim, and they are the thousands of Menashe. (Devarim 33:13-17)

What occurred  to Yosef occurred to Rav Yosef. The pasuk in Pashas Vayeishev states, “These are the offspring of Yaakov – Yosef, at the age of seventeen years…(Bereishis 37:2)” This teaches that what occurred to  Yaakov also occurred to Yosef.  Just Yaakov had dream with a ladder, Yosef also had dreams.  The Torah knowledge that Yaakov acquired from his years of learning in the Yeshiva of Shem and Ever, was handed over to Yosef.  

The Midrash  explains, that when Torah states that Yaakov awoke from his sleep, it means, that he got up from learning Torah.  In his dream he saw a ladder.  The ladder in his dream was called a סלם , which represents  Mount Sinai.  Similarly, Rav Yosef is called Sinai. The word “סלם” in gematria is equal to Sinai :”סיני”

סלם                                 = 60+30+40 =130 = סיני = 60+10+50+10

The above pasuk (33:16) refers to Yosef as a receiving the blessing of the One Who rests in the thorn bush, ורצון שכני סנה .  This is a hint to Mount Sinai. This is a reference to G-d revealing Himself to Moshe Rabin  by the burning bush.  The bush reminds of Har Sinai. By the bush Moshe was instructed told to take Jews out of Egypt. The Gematria bush הסנה = 5+50+50+5=120=סני . At the burning bush Moshe was told about Har Chore which is Mont Sinai.  Because the brothers hated Yosef and sent him down to Egypt, G-d therefore decides to appear to Moshe in a bush. That why it is called THE bush הסנה .

Yosef learned and reviewed his Torah studies just as Rav Yosef did and was therefore called Sinai.  The Talmud relates that Rav Yosef fasted for forty days, in order that his Torah knowledge not be forgotten. Why forty days?  Since Moshe received the Torah over a period of forty days and nights, with no food or drink, similarly Rav Yosef fasted for the same period of time. Rav Yosef and Rav Sheikhs were both blind; in order not to forget their Torah studies, they were always reviewing orally their teachings in order not to forget.

Torah Tradition From Yakov  

The pasuk states in )Bereishis 41:44): “Paroh said to Yosef, “I am Paroh. And without you no man may lift up his hand or foot in all of Egypt.”

The Torah knowledge was passed down from Yaakov to Yosef and again from Yaakov the grandfather directly to Ephraim his grandson.

Yosef was Sinai, since Yaakov taught him all his Torah knowledge.  In a similar fashion, Rav Yosef was called wheat. Yosef was  the leader so he rode in a chariot; this requires more study.

Section taken from book Nachalas Yehodah

Dream Interpretations

בראשית מא:טז

ויען יוסף את פרעה לאמר בלעדי, אלקים יענה את שלום פרעה:

Yosef answered Paroh saying, “That is beyond be; G-d will respond to Paroh’s welfare (Bereishis 41:16).

Yosef interpreted the dreams of the butler and the baker. The chief cupbearer’s dream was good for the Jews, therefore, Yosef then interpreted it for the good. The word כוס cup is mentioned four times in the passages (chpt. 40:10-13). This represents the four cups of redemption we drink on Pesach. The cupbearer’s dream foretold of hope for the future of the Jewish nation in Egypt. The grapevine represented the Jewish people, the three branches represent Avraham, Yitzchak, and Yaakov.  The Jews will be liberated by the three saviors Moshe, Aaron, and Miriam.  In short this dream foretold of the Jewish redemption  from Egypt (Let My Nation Descend, pg.111-112).

The Chief Bakers dream was bad for the Jews; that is  why Yosef interpreted it badly for him.  His dream spoke of the bitter Jewish exile.  The three baskets represented the kinds of slave labor the Jews would endure: mortar, brick-making, and field work.  The birds represent our enemies who will scatter the Jews to the four corners of the earth.  The three baskets represent the empires that would enslave the Jewish nation: Babylonia, Persia and Greece; the numerous pastries in upper basket represent the oppression of the Romans.  The bird also symbolizes the Moshiach who will peck at the Roman Empire and annihilate it (Let My Nation Descend, pg. 119)

Similarly, Yosef told Paroh, that if his dream was beneficial for the Jews, he will interpret it for the good; however,  if it is indeed bad for Jews, Yosef must  interpret it for the bad. That is what he meant by stating ,“That is beyond me, G-d will respond”.

Meraglim Spies

Yosef called the brothers meraglim – spies.  This same word “meraglim” is used later on in the Torah to describe the ten Jewish Rabbinical leaders in the desert.  Those meraglim refused G-d’s instructions to make aliyah.  As a consequence, that entire generation perished in the desert over a period of forty years of wandering in the desert.  The date of their aliyah refusal, the 9th of Av, became a day of mourning and future destruction.

בראשית מב:ט

וזיכר יוסף את החלומות אשר חלם להם, ויאמר  אלהם מרגלים אתם לראות את ערות הארץ באתם:

Yosef recalled the dreams that he dreamed about them, and he said to them, “You are spies [meraglim]! To see the land’s nakedness you have come!” (Bereishis 42:9).

They answered, “We, are your servants, are twelve brothers, the sons of one man in the land of Canaan; the youngest is with our father today and one is gone (42:13).”   Why did Yosef specifically accuse them of being spies/meraglim?  This is because the word מרגלים spells out a subtle message from Yosef to his  the bothers!  Yosef hinted the following: “From my mother Rachel, you stole me, to the Midanites and Yishmaelim you sold me!”  The first letters of each word of this sentence spells out the word מרגלים.







The Zohar in Pashas Shlach reveals that the twelve  brothers were re-incarnated into the meraglim in the desert.  Ten refused to make aliyah, whereas two were in favor of following G-d’s command (Yehoshua and Calev).  Yosef wanted to judge them based upon the crimes of the meraglim/spies in the future.

In their defense, the brothers used past tense stating,” we were not spies’ לא היו עבדיך מרגלים “ , they should have use the present tense ” we ARE not spies” , rather  they said   “we WERE not spies”.

            בראשית מב:יא

כלנו בני איש אחד נחנו, כנים אנחנו לא היו עבדך מרגלים:

We are the servants of one man; we are truthful, your servants have never been spies (Bereishis 42:11).

Yosef  continues to judge them say, “you will be spies”.  They retorted,  ” we were not spies”.  The brothers implied to Yosef, “How can you judge us based on the future,  we are not yet guilty of the sin of being meraglim spies?”  You, Yosef,  can’t judge based on action that have not occurred yet. Very similar to the story of  Yishmael, were G-d judged him while he was dying of thirst with his mother Hagar (Bereishis 21:17, parshas Vayiera), it states , “באשר הוא שם” , “as he is there”.  Rashi explains, that Yishmael was judged by G-d in accordance with the deeds he does at present, and not in accordance with what he is destined to do.  he was judged base on his present actions, not based on the murderous actions of the Arab/Moslem nation, his future descendents.   G-d judged Yishmael to be innocent in his present circumstances; thus he was nourished back to life with a miraculous source of water brought by an angel.

תלמוד ראש השנה טז עמוד ב

ואמר רבי יצחק: אין דנין את האדם אלא לפי מעשיו של אותה שעה, שנאמר: “כי שמע אלקים אל קול הנער באשר הוא שם.”

And Rav Yitzchak said: A person is judged only for his actions of that moment, as it is stated regarding Yishmael: For G-d has listened to the cry of the youth as he is, there (Talmud Bavli Rosh Hashanah 16b).

So too the brothers told Yosef he can only judge them by their current actions.  The brothers warned Yosef that if  he insists on judging them based on the meraglim of the future, then they are warranted to presently kill Yosef ! For in the  future an evil king named Yeravam ben Nevat will descend from Yosef.  He made two golden calves/oxen and prevented the Jews from going up to the Beis Hamikdash to serve G-d.  He instructed the Jewish nation to serve his idols instead.

They started to judge Yosef as a capital case based on his future descendant.  Yosef then retorted, that he will them based on their future decedents and stated, “… you are spies/miraglim!”

The Land of Israel Is The Source of All Blessing

Yosef asked his brothers, where they were from. They answered that that they are from Eretz Yisrael and they came to buy food, implying that there is a famine in Canaan.  Therefore, Yosef called them spies two times.

בראשית מב: ז-ט, יג-יד

וַיַּרְא יוֹסֵף אֶת-אֶחָיו, וַיַּכִּרֵם; וַיִּתְנַכֵּר אֲלֵיהֶם וַיְדַבֵּר אִתָּם קָשׁוֹת, וַיֹּאמֶר אֲלֵהֶם מֵאַיִן בָּאתֶם, וַיֹּאמְרוּ, מֵאֶרֶץ כְּנַעַן לִשְׁבָּר-אֹכֶלוַיֹּאמֶר אֲלֵהֶם מְרַגְּלִים אַתֶּם, לִרְאוֹת אֶת-עֶרְוַת הָאָרֶץ בָּאתֶם… וַיֹּאמְרוּ, שְׁנֵים עָשָׂר עֲבָדֶיךָ אַחִים אֲנַחְנוּ בְּנֵי אִישׁ-אֶחָד–בְּאֶרֶץ כְּנָעַן; וְהִנֵּה הַקָּטֹן אֶת-אָבִינוּ הַיּוֹם, וְהָאֶחָד אֵינֶנּוּ: וַיֹּאמֶר אֲלֵהֶם, יוֹסֵף:  הוּא, אֲשֶׁר דִּבַּרְתִּי אֲלֵכֶם לֵאמֹר מְרַגְּלִים אַתֶּם:

Yosef saw his brothers and he recognized them, but he acted like a stranger toward them and spoke with them harshly. He said to them, “From where do you come?” And they said, “From the land of Canaan to buy food.”…and he said to them, “You are spies/meraglim!…”…And they said, “We, your servants, are twelve brothers, the sons of one man in the land of Canaan; the youngest is with our father today and one is gone.” But Yosef said to them, “This is what I have been saying to you, “Your are spies/meraglim!” (Bereishis 42:7-9, 13-14)

According to the Zohar, the entire world was suffering from a famine; however, only the land of Israel and Egypt had a surplus of food.   This is because the entire world gets its sustenance on the merit of the land of Israel. [According to the Gra, this is the reason that we bless bread, “…the one who brings out bread from The Land הארץ”, referring to the fact that all the bread of the world comes on the merit of the land of Israel .[

At the time of Yosef the Shechina was present in Egypt for two reasons:

  1. Yosef HaTzadik never sinned, so the Shechina was present.
  2. Yaakov and his sons were in Eretz Yisrael, therefore, the Shechina was absent.The Shechina will not manifest itself in a place of  sadness. Yaakov was very depressed for years, over the apparent loss of Yosef , therefore, the Shechina did not exist in the land of Canaan at that time.

Yosef knew that the entire world receives its sustenance from the land of Israel. Egypt had food and the merit of Eretz Yisrael.  So how can the brothers claim that they came from Eretz Canaan in need of food?  Yosef therefore called them [liars], called them spies ! For it is not possible there to be food in Egypt not in the land of Eretz Yisrael.

They explained to Yosef how this was indeed possible.  They were twelve brothers, but now one is missing.  This tragedy has created a sadness in their family and thus the Shechina is not longer present in their land, thus they need food.

We should only know from Joy of simchas and living in G-d’s house and the Land of Israel.

אשרי יושבי ביתך, עוד יהללוך סלה (תהילים פד:ה)

Happy are those who dwell  in Your house, they will praise You continually, Selah. (Tehilim 84:5)


Bris Shalom, homiletics on the Torah.  Rabbi Pinchas Av Beis  Din of Wlodawa, son of Rabbi Pilta of Pozna. Frankfurt am Main,(1718).

Let My Nation Descend. Yosef Deutsch. Feldheim Publishers, 2008.

About the Author
Arie E. Pelta, M.D., a Board Certified General and Colorectal Surgeon from the USA , made aliyah with his wife and 7 children in 2013. He is also a active Medical Corps Officer holding the rank of Captain in the IDF Reserves. Currently practicing in Laniado Hospital in Netanya and at Assuta Medical Center in Tel Aviv, part of the Assia Medical group; speciaizing in the surgical care of all problems of the colon, rectum and anus.
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