Weekly Torah Portions


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Summary in Russian
Rav Zilber in Russian

Yaakov's favorite son was Yoseph, son of old age. Yaakov made for Yoseph a multi-colored silk coat as a sign of distinction and lordship. This aroused the jealousy of Yoseph's brothers until they actually hated Yoseph and could not even talk to him congenially.

Yaakov's favorite son was Yoseph, son of old age. Yaakov made for Yoseph a multi-colored silk coat as a sign of distinction and lordship. This aroused the jealousy of Yoseph's brothers until they actually hated Yoseph and could not even talk to him congenially.

Yoseph dreamt two dreams with the same obvious message. His brothers' hate intensified as they heard Yoseph's dreams. In the first dream, the sheaves of his brothers bowed down to his own sheaf, which was standing upright in their midst. In the second, the sun, moon, and eleven stars, (representing the rest of Yoseph's family) bowed down to him. The implication of these dreams was that all the members of Yoseph's family would become subservient to him. Yaakov rebuked Yoseph for arousing his brothers' enmity, though he personally noted and waited for fulfillment of the dreams.

When Yoseph's brothers were away tending their father's flock in Shechem, Yaakov sent Yoseph to see how they were faring. Yoseph was on his way to his brothers when they noticed him from a distance. The brothers decided that this was their chance to conspire to kill him, throw his body into a pit, and then conceal their act by saying a wild beast had eaten him.

Reuven knew that this was wrong. He wanted to save Yoseph but saw that the other brothers would not heed his word. However, he was able to convince them not to kill Yoseph but rather to cast him alive into a nearby pit. "Let it not be your hands that directly injure Yoseph," argued Reuven. Reuven reasoned silently that later he would return, after the brothers had left, and save Yoseph. When Yoseph finally arrived, the brothers stripped him of his silk coat and, as Reuven had suggested, threw him alive into the pit.

A caravan of Yishmaelites bearing spices to Egypt approached, and the idea occurred to Yehudah to sell Yoseph as a slave rather than to directly cause his death. The brothers accepted this new plan and sold Yoseph to the traveling Yishmaelites for twenty pieces of silver. Reuven, away while this was happening, returned to find no trace of Yoseph, much to his grief. The brothers then dipped the silk coat in the blood of a goat (whose blood is similar to that of a human being) and brought it to Yaakov, who concluded that Yoseph had been devoured by a wild beast. Yaakov mourned Yoseph's loss for many days.

Meanwhile, Yishmaelites sold Yoseph to Midianite merchants, and the merchants sold him in Egypt, to Potiphar, an officer of Pharoh.

Hashem was with Yoseph and he was very successful in all his endeavors. Potiphar, realizing this, appointed him to the position of overseer of his household. Potiphar's wife tried to seduce Yoseph but Yoseph rejected her daily advances. Potiphar's wife finally became insulted and reacted viciously by accusing him of molesting her, and Yoseph was sent to prison.

Even in prison Hashem was with Yoseph, and he found favor in the eyes of the prison warden. The warden placed Yoseph in charge of all the prisoners and Yoseph controlled everything that took place in the prison. While there, Yoseph came in contact with two royal officials, Pharoh's chief butler and baker. They had offended Phharoh and were in prison awaiting word of their fate. One night, each had a dream that they revealed to Yoseph. Yoseph interpreted the dreams to mean that Pharoh would pardon the butler, but the baker would be executed. The events occurred exactly as Yoseph had foretold. Yoseph asked the butler to intercede with Pharoh on his behalf, but the butler forgot this request as soon as he was released from prison.

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Joseph is Sold

Meanwhile, Jacob settled in the area where his father had lived in the land of Canaan.
These are the chronicles of Jacob:

Joseph was 17 years old. As a lad, he would tend the sheep with his brothers, the sons of Bilhah and Zilpah, his father's wives. Joseph brought his father a bad report about them.

Israel loved Joseph more than any of his other sons, since he was the child of his old age. He made [Joseph] a long colorful coat.  When his brothers realized that their father loved him more than all the rest, they began to hate him. They could not say a peaceful word to him.

Then Joseph had a dream, and when he told it to his brothers, they hated him all the more. "Listen to the dream I had," he said to them. "We were binding sheaves in the field, when my sheaf suddenly stood up erect. Your sheaves formed a circle around my sheaf, and bowed down to it."

"Do you want to be our king?" retorted the brothers. "Do you intend to rule over us?" Because of his dreams and words, they hated him even more.

He had another dream and told it to his brothers. "I just had another dream," he said. "The sun, the moon, and eleven stars were bowing down to me.

When he told it to his father and brothers, his father scolded him and said, "What kind of dream did you have? Do you want me, your mother, and your brothers to come and prostrate ourselves on the ground to you?" His brothers became very jealous of him, but his father suspended judgment.

[Joseph's] brothers left to tend their father's sheep in Shechem. Israel said to Joseph, "I believe your brothers are keeping the sheep in Shechem. I would like you to go to them."

"I'm ready," replied [Joseph].

"Then see how your brothers and the sheep are doing," said [Israel]. "Bring me a report."

[Israel] thus sent him from the Hebron valley, and [Joseph] arrived Shechem. A stranger found him blundering about in the fields. "What are you looking for?" asked the stranger.

"I'm looking for my brothers," replied [Joseph]. "Perhaps you can tell me where they are tending the sheep."

"They already left this area," said the man. “I heard them planning to go to Dothan.”

Joseph went after his brothers and found them in Dothan. They saw him in the distance, and before he reached them, they were plotting to kill him.

"Here comes the dreamer!" they said to one another. "Now we have the chance! Let's kill him and throw him into one of the wells. We can say that a wild beast are him. Then let's see what will become of his dreams!"

Reuben heard these words and tried to rescue [Joseph]. "Let's not kill him!" he said.

Reuben tried to reason with his brothers. "Don't commit bloodshed. You can throw him into this well in the desert, and you won't have to lay a hand on him." His plan was to rescue [Joseph] from [his brothers] and bring him back to his father.

When Joseph came to his brothers, they stripped him of the long colorful coat that he was wearing. They took him and threw him into the well. The well was empty; there was no water in it.

The [brothers] sat down and ate a meal. When they looked up, they saw an Arab caravan coming from Gilead. The camels were carrying gum, balsam, and resin, transporting them to Egypt.

Judah said to his brothers, "What will we gain if we kill our brother and cover his blood? Let's sell him to the Arabs and not harm him with our own hands. After all, he's our brother, our own flesh and blood." His brothers agreed.

The strangers, who turned out to be Midianite traders approaches and [the brothers] pulled Joseph out of the well. They sold him to the Arabs for twenty pieces of silver. [These Midianite Arabs] were to bring Joseph to Egypt.

When Reuben returned to the well, Joseph was no longer there. [Reuben] tore his clothes in grief. He returned to his brothers. "The boy is gone!" he exclaimed. "And I - where can I go?"

[The brothers] took Joseph's coat. They slaughtered a goat and dipped the coat in the blood. " They sent the long colorful coat, and it was brought to their father. "We found this," explained [the brothers when they returned]. "Try to identify it. Is it your son's coat or not?"

[Jacob immediately] recognized it. "It is my son's coat!" he cried. "A wild beast must have eaten him! My Joseph has been torn to pieces!" He tore his robes in grief and put on sackcloth. He kept himself in mourning for many days. All his sons and daughters tried to console him, but he refused to be comforted. "I will go down to the grave mourning for my son," he said, He wept for [his son] as only a father could.

The Midanites sold [Joseph] in Egypt to Potiphar, one of Pharaoh's officers, captain of the guard.

Judah and Tamar

 Around this time, Judah left his brothers. He became friends' with a man of Adullam by the name of Chirah.  There Judah met the daughter of a merchant named Shua. He married her and came to her.
She became pregnant and had a son. He named the child Er. She became pregnant again, and had another son. She named him Onan. She gave birth once again to a son, and she named him Shelah. [Judah] was in Keziv when she gave birth to [this child].
Judah took a wife for Er his first-born, and her name was Tamar. Judah's first-born Er was evil in God's eyes, and God made him die. Judah said to Onan, "Marry your brother's wife, and thus fulfill the duty of a brother-in-law to her. You will then raise children to keep your brother's [name] alive." Onan, however, realized that the children would not carry his name. Therefore, whenever he came to his brother's wife, he let [the seed) go to waste on the ground, so as not to have children in his brother's name.
What he did was evil in God's eyes, and He also made him die.
Judah said to his daughter-in-law, Tamar, "Live as a widow in your father's house until my son Shelah is grown." He was putting her off' because he was concerned that [Shelah], too, would die like his brothers. Tamar left and lived in her father's house.
A long time passed, and Judah's wife, the daughter of Shua, died. Judah sought consolation, and he went to supervise his sheep shearers in Timna, together with his friend, Chirah the Adullamite. Tamar was told that her father-in-law was going to Timna to shear his sheep. She took off her widow's garb, and covered herself with a veil. Thus disguised, she sat at the entrance of Twin Wells (Eynayim) on the road to Timna. She had seen that Shelah had grown, and she had not been given to him as a wife.
Judah saw her, and because she had covered her face, he assumed that she was a prostitute. He turned aside to her on the road, not realizing that she was his own daughter-in-law.
"Hello there," he said. "Let me come to you."
"What will you give me if you come to me?"
"I will send you a kid from the flock."
"But you must give me something for security until you send it."
"What do you want for security?"
"Your seal, your wrap, and the staff in your hand," she replied. He gave them to her and came to her, making her pregnant. She got up and left, taking off her veil and putting her widow's garb back on.
Judah sent the young kid with his friend the Adullamite in order to get the security back from the woman, but [his friend] could not find her. [The friend] asked the local people, "where is the religious prostitute'? She was near Twin Wells (Eynayim), alongside the road."
"There was no religious prostitute here," they replied.
He returned to Judah and said, "I could not find [the woman]. The local men said that there was no sacred prostitute there."
"Let her keep [the security]," replied Judah. "We don't want to become a laughingstock. I tried to send her the kid, but you couldn't find her." Some three months passed, and Judah was told, "Your daughter-in-law has been behaving loosely. She has become pregnant from her looseness."
"Take her out and have her burned, " said Judah.
When she was being taken out, she sent [the security] to her father-in- law with the message, "I am pregnant by the man who is the owner of these articles." [When Judah came to her,] she said, "If you would, identify [these objects]. Who is the owner of this seal, this wrap, and this staff?"
Judah immediately recognized them. "She is more innocent than I am!" he said. "She did it because I did not give her to my son Shelah." He was not intimate with her anymore.
When the time came for her to give birth, there were twins in her womb. As she was in labor, one of them put out an arm. The midwife grasped it and tied a crimson thread on it. "This one came out first," she announced.
He pulled his hand back, and then his brother came out. "You have asserted yourself with such pushiness (peretz)!" she said. [Judah] named the child Peretz.
His brother, with the crimson thread on his hand, was then born.
[Judah] named him Zerach.


Joseph's Temptation

Joseph had been brought down to Egypt, and Potiphar, one of Pharaoh's Egyptian officers, the captain of the guard, had purchased him from the Arabs who had brought him there. God was with Joseph, and He made him very successful. Soon he was working in his master's own house. His master realized that God was with [Joseph], and that God granted success to everything he did.
Joseph gained favor with [his master] and before long, he was appointed as [his master's) personal servant. [His master] placed him in charge of his household, giving him responsibility for everything he owned. And as soon as [his master] had placed him in charge of his household and possessions, God blessed the Egyptian because of Joseph. God's blessing was in all [the Egyptian] had, both in the house and the field.
[His master] left all his affairs in Joseph's hands, except for the food he himself ate. He did not concern himself with anything [Joseph] did. Meanwhile, Joseph grew to be well built and handsome.                                  

In the course of time, his master's wife cast her eyes on Joseph. "Sleep with me," she said.
He adamantly refused. He reasoned with his master's wife. "My master does not even know what I do in the house. He has entrusted me with everything he owns. No one in this house has more power than I have. He has not kept back anything at all from me, except for you - his wife. How could I do such a great wrong? It would be a sin before God!"
She spoke to Joseph every day, but he would not pay attention to her. He would not even lie next to her or spend time with her.
One such day, [Joseph] came to the house to do his work. None of the household staff was inside. [The woman] grabbed him by his cloak. "Sleep with me!" she pleaded. He ran away from her, leaving his cloak in her hand, fled outside.
When she realized that he had left his cloak in her hand and fled outside, she called her household servants. "See!" she said. "He brought us a Hebrew man to play games with us! He came to rape me, but I screamed as loud as I could! When he heard me scream and call for help, he ran outside and left his cloak with me!"
She kept [Joseph's] cloak with her until his master came home, and told him the same story. "The Hebrew slave that you brought us came to play games with me! When I screamed and called for help, he fled outside, leaving his cloak with me!"
When her husband heard his wife's story and her description of the incident, he became furious. Joseph's master had him arrested, and placed him in the dungeon where the king's prisoners were kept. He was to remain in dungeon that dungeon.
God was with Joseph, and He showed him kindness, making him find favor with the warden of the dungeon. Soon, the warden had placed all the prisoners in the dungeon under Joseph's charge. [Joseph] took care of everything that had to be done. The warden did not have to look after anything that was under [Joseph's] care. God was with [Joseph], and God granted him success in everything he did.

The Prisoners’ Dreams

Soon after this, the Egyptian king's wine steward and baker offended their master, who was the king of Egypt. Pharaoh was incensed at his two courtiers, the chief steward and chief baker, and he had them arrested. They were placed in the house of the captain of the guard, in the same dungeon where Joseph was imprisoned. They were under arrest for a long period of time, and the captain assigned Joseph to look after them.
One night, the two of them dreamed. The Egyptian king's steward and baker, who were imprisoned in the dungeon, each had a dream that seemed to have a special meaning. When Joseph came to them in the morning, he saw that they were upset. He tried to find out what was wrong with Pharaoh's courtiers who were his fellow prisoners in his master's house. "Why do you look so worried today?" he asked.
"We [each] had a dream," they replied, "and there is no one [here] to interpret it."
"Interpretations are God's business," replied Joseph. "If you want to, tell me about [your dreams]."
The chief steward related his dream to Joseph. "In my dream," he said, "there was a grape vine right there in front of me. The vine had three branches. As soon as its buds formed, its blossoms bloomed, and its clusters ripened into grapes. Pharaoh's cup was in my hand. I took the grapes and squeezed them into Pharaoh's cup. Then I placed the cup in Pharaoh's hand."

Joseph said to him, "This is the interpretation: The three branches are three days. In three days, Pharaoh will lift your head and give you back your position. You will place Pharaoh's cup in his hand, just as you did before, when you were his steward.

"But when things go well for you, just remember that I was with you. Do me a favor and say something about me to Pharaoh. Perhaps you will be able to get me out of this place. I was originally kidnapped from the land of the Hebrews, and when I came here, I did not do anything to deserve being thrown in the dungeon."
The chief baker saw that [Joseph] was able to give a good interpretation. He said to Joseph, "I also saw myself in my dream. There were three baskets of fine white bread on my head. In the top basket, there were all kinds of baked goods that Pharaoh eats. But birds were eating it from the basket on any head!"
Joseph replied, "This is its interpretation: The three baskets are three days. In three days, Pharaoh will lift your head - right off your body! He will hang you on a gallows, and the birds will eat your flesh."
The third day was Pharaoh's birthday, and he made a feast for all his servants. Among his servants, he gave special attention to the chief wine steward and the chief baker. He restored the chief steward to his position, and allowed him to place the cup in Pharaoh's hand. The chief baker, however, was hanged, just as Joseph had predicted.

The chief steward did not remember Joseph. He forgot all about him.

Беседы о Торе. Рав Ицхак Зильбер

Rav Yitzchak Zilber (in Russian) Rabbi Dovid Grossman