January 8, 2023 – 4th Yahrzeit of Bubi Jean – 16 Teves –

A Debt Repaid – The hand of Hashem is Revealed

“Cause Mama Didn’t Raise No Fool”

Mother on Motzei Shabbos April 28, 2018 at her 94th birthday with her three “favorite” grandsons, Eli Morgenstern, Mattityahu Schwartz, and Eliyahu Sholem Glenner.

2010 picture of Mother (86 years old) with Eliana Tovah Bernstein, now from Nahariya, Israel.

On Monday night and Tuesday is my mother’s fourth Yahrzeit.  Jean Morgenstern,  Shayna Bas Sholem and Chana Feigl Sklar.  I offer the below story in a merit and memory of my mother.   My mother was great.  

This past Friday, January 5, 2023 I received a call from George.   Years ago I lent him over $30,000.  He had a business which initially did well but over time he could not meet payroll.  Sometimes he asked me to approve his overdrafts which I did and when he couldn’t cover, I would cover his account out of my pocket from my home equity credit line.  Other times I would put money into his account without being asked.  

When he was struggling, I tried to get him business from my customers.  It was a Tuesday afternoon, it may have been a fast day,  I was in my car and had a splitting headache.  I was driving on Peterson Avenue, right past the Shul that Yosef Davis had in the ground floor of his building. The Rov was Rabbi Bechhoffer. or Rabbi Henoch Plotnick.  I just wanted to go home, daven, and go to bed.  I forced myself to stop and go to daven.  As I was walking down the three steps that led into the Shul, I thought about a customer who possibly would purchase product.  Right after davening I called Eddie and Eddie told me that George should call him and he will use his services.  The next day George went to Eddie’s place and Eddie’s bought $1,600 worth of time.  He cut a check and paid George on the spot.  George did not have to bill him and wait for his money.  Because of this George met payroll and survived another week.  That Shabbos as George walked into his house, he was a hero.  He felt good about himself.  Who knows what that Shabbos meant for him and his family, who knows what bad was prevented.  Eddie by paying immediately did a great action.   If he had said, bill me and I will pay in 30 days, it would have been a huge Chesed.  By paying immediately this one business transaction out of millions of transactions that day went before the Kisa Hakovid.    

George finally closed his business.  He felt terrible and told me that I should find solace in the fact that five people became Orthodox from his business.  This was solace for me.   I thought to myself, did I do the guy any favors? Had I not covered his overdrafts, his business would have folded three months earlier.  It was clear that he was not going to make it, but now he racked up my debt, and other debt.  Was I a sucker, an easy mark, a fool with money I did not have?  This was not the only time this happened when I covered overdrafts and paid out of my pocket.  I would like to believe that while I suffered internally and felt foolish; ultimately, Hashem would reward me.

He did tell me that he will pay everyone back.  At that time he had no money.   His wife worked and made maybe $40,000.  He had a side hustle which brought in a few dollars.  He needed a real job with a growing family.  He eventually got a job managing a local office for an east coast successful businessman.  George started paying me back at  about $500 monthly, paying the debt down to $23,400.  However, he stopped paying years ago.  I wondered and assumed that with his growing family he just did not have left over money to repay me.  We did speak to one another over the years and to his credit he did try to refer business to me.  The last deal he referred to me before I retired in 2020 was one company that I was trying to get as a customer and was excited.  However, the bank was turning down almost every deal coming from our Healthcare department, so after expressing my excitement on the deal, I had to turn it down.  To my bosses credit, she called George to turn down the loan.  She supported the loan.   

Over the years when  I met him and never asked for the money.  I knew that he was not able to pay me back.  A few years ago I found out that he lived in a very nice house and wondered if he forgot about the money.  Rabbi Zev Cohen told me that he recently gave a Shiur on a lender who knows the borrower is not in a position to pay back, is the lender forbidden to ask for the loan to be repaid.  I do not recall how Rabbi Cohen paskened but B’Siattah Dismaya, I did not ask him for the money back.  Not that I am very Frum but because it is not in my nature.

Today he called me and said he is repaying the $23,400.  Wow.  I told him that now that I am living off my retirement money, I would have to take out $30,000 to get $23,400 net of taxes.  He legally did not have to pay me back as I put the money into his corporate account.  But he did pay me back and at the right time as I am about to withdraw money from my retirement account.  

On Shabbos Parshas Shmos, January 14, 2023, Rabbi Shmuel Lesher, assistant Rabbi of the BAYT in Thornhill, Ontario spoke at the Hashkama minyan on the topic of why did Moshe refuse Hashem three times. The answer he gave is because Moshe owed gratitude to Yisro, Hakoras Hatov and did not feel he could leave Yisro. At the conclusion of his speech, Rabbi Lesher mentioned Mishna 2:9 in Perkei Avos and discussed the following saying of Reb Shimon.

רַבִּי שִׁמְעוֹן אוֹמֵר, הַלֹּוֶה וְאֵינוֹ מְשַׁלֵּם. אֶחָד הַלֹּוֶה מִן הָאָדָם, כְּלֹוֶה מִן הַמָּקוֹם בָּרוּךְ הוּא, שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר (תהלים לז) לֹוֶה רָשָׁע וְלֹא יְשַׁלֵּם, וְצַדִּיק חוֹנֵן וְנוֹתֵן.

Rabbi Shimon said, one who borrows and does not repay for he that borrows from man is as one who borrows from God, blessed be He, as it is said, “the wicked borrow and do not repay, but the righteous deal graciously and give” (Psalms 37:21).

Reb Shimon says that what defines an evil person as someone who does not repay his loans. George was never someone who does not repay his loans. I never told him it was a loan. He told me at the time and that he will repay me and all debts. It is great that George has fulfilled that words of Reb Shimon, the holy Tanna. In the next world George will go to Reb Shimon. They will dance and Reb Shimon will kiss him and then they will learn together this Maamer. I can only hope that I will be Zocah.

 Boruch Hashem that I had a mother whom we loved. She overcame obstacles and gave support.


New Love for the Soncino Chumash

January 3, 2023

The Soncino Chumash vs. the Hertz Chumash vs. Artscroll Stone Edition vs. Lubavitch Chumashim

I keep a collection of English translations of the Chumash for reference purposes.  

This past Shabbos I picked up a Soncino Chumash and compared it to the Hertz Chumash. I rarely used these Chumoshim and I was curious as to their differences.   My cousin in LA uses the Hertz Chumash and quotes from it.  I occasionally used it but never for its commentary until Martin Brody praised Rabbi Hertz and his Hertz Chumash

 I read the introduction to the Soncino Chumash and was amazed by what I saw.  I have new-found respect for it and will use it every Shabbos.   While the Hertz Chumash contained Christian commentaries, the Soncino’s comments are a condensed version of the Mikraos Gedolos.  They use seven Reshonim, as follows:

Rashi – Rabbi Shlomo Yitzchoki    1040-1105

Rashbam – Rabbi Shmuel Ben Meir.   Grandson of Rashi    1085-1174.  

Avrohom Ibn Ezra  1092-1167

Redak – Rabbi Dovid Kimchi           1160-1235

Ramban – Rabbi Moshe Ben Nachman  1194-1270

Ralbag – Levi Ben Gershon known as Gershonides             1288 -1344

Sforno – Obadiah Ben Yaakov Sforno      1475-1550

What I like about the Soncino is that they bring down the 7 commentaries, identify them, and summarize their comments. They do not try to mix the Reshonim together and make a cholent.  The people who compiled the comments were scholars and loyal to the Torah.  It is basically an english Mikraos Gedolos.

Soncino Chumash:

The Soncino Chumash is best summarized by David Olivestone in 2017 as follows:

In his recounting of “The Story of the Hertz Chumash” (June 22, 2017), Mitchell First writes that “another English option did not appear until 1981 when the Reform movement published its own Chumash.”  Mitchell First’s article is below.

Inexplicably, he overlooks the hugely popular “Soncino Chumash,” first published in 1947 and edited by Rev. Dr. Abraham Cohen. Cohen was the general editor of the entire set of the Soncino Books of the Bible, and also participated in the Soncino translations of the Talmud and the Midrash.

Unlike Chief Rabbi Hertz’s “Chumash,” Cohen’s commentary is based solely on traditional rabbinic sources, such as Rashi, Ibn Ezra, Radak and others. In the latter decades of the twentieth century, “The Soncino Chumash” replaced “The Hertz Chumash” in many Orthodox congregations in Great Britain and the Commonwealth, as well as in the USA.

David Olivestone


David Olivestone is Rabbi Jonathan Sacks’s son-n-law and an acquaintance of our own Martin Brody of Los Angeles.

Hertz Chumash:

Rabbi Joseph Hertz published his English translation and commentary originally in 1936.

Rabbi Joseph Herman Hertz – 1913

Born 9/25/1872  died 1/14/1946  – 73 years old. 

Chief Rabbi of Great Britain And the Commonwealth   1913 – 1946 – 33 years

Hertz Chumash

from Wikipedia:

Hertz edited a significant commentary on the Torah (1929–36,[17] one volume edition 1937). Published as The Pentateuch and Haftorahs and popularly known as the Hertz Chumash, this classic Hebrew-English edition of the Five Books of Moses, with corresponding Haftorahs, is used in many synagogues and classrooms throughout the English-speaking world.[18] The work – through its commentary and essays – is noted for its stance against Higher Criticism. [19]

It is also referred to as the Hertz Pentateuch, and it includes the following features:[20]

  • “extensive essays on … perceived conflict between science and religion”
  • comparisons of “Torah’s laws and those in the Code of Hammurabi
  • comments from and source references to Christian sources,
  • The initial English translation of Hertz’s Chumash dated May 10, 1936 was the English Revised Version of the King James Bible.     However, when the five volumes were combined into a single volume and published by Soncino Press, the English Revised Version translation,were replaced with the 1917 Jewish Publication Society translation.[23] Both translations were lightly edited by Hertz (e.g., at Lev. 27:29 RV and Num. 10:33 JPS).  The Soncino version was published on October 15, 1937.

It also includes views of the most important medieval Jewish commentators, such as Abraham ibn Ezra, Rashi, Ramban, Radak, Sforno and Ralbag (Gersonides).[21][22]

The actual writing, which produced five volumes, was done by four other people,[23] but “Hertz recast their material into his own style.”

The Hertz Chumach was revised in January 1960, primarily adding the Haftoorasfor the Holidays and other special days.

I found this fascinating article on the Hertz Chumash form 2017 by Mitchell First.

“The Pentateuch and Haftorahs” of Rabbi Dr. J.H. Hertz is one of the most important works of the Jewish religion in the 20th century. To quote one scholar, it “almost single-handedly [gave] shape to the way in which English-speaking Jewish laymen the world over have understood their Judaism over the course of the past two generations.” I recently came across a book that told the story of this work. The book is “A Vindication of Judaism: The Polemics of the Hertz Pentateuch,” by Harvey Meirovich (1998). I learned much from this book, and I would like to share some of it.

First, a bit of biography. Joseph Herman Hertz was born in 1872 in Slovakia. He was brought to the U.S. in 1884 and grew up in New York City on the Lower East Side. He attended City College and Columbia University. He received his rabbinic ordination from the Jewish Theological Seminary in 1894, as part of their first graduating class of eight students. After serving congregations in Syracuse (1894-98), Johannesburg (1898-1911) and New York City (1912), he was appointed chief rabbi of England in 1913. He held that position until his death in 1946.

Hertz began work on his commentary in 1920. But it was not until 1929 that the first volume came out. The last volume, Deuteronomy, came out in 1936. He did not produce this monumental commentary on his own. He had four Anglo-Jewish collaborators: Joshua Abelson, Abraham Cohen, Gerald Friedlander and Samuel Frampton. Periodically, these men submitted their initial drafts of the sections assigned to them. R. Hertz recast their material into his own style.

What was the background to this work? The author explains it all. In England, in 1901, one year before his move to New York, Solomon Schechter wrote: “[T]he new century does not open under very favourable auspices for Judaism…[O]ur Scriptures are the constant object of attack, our history is questioned, and its morality is declared to be an inferior sort…[T]he younger generation…if not directly hostile, are by dint of mere ignorance sadly indifferent to everything Jewish, and incapable of taking the place of their parents in the Synagogue…” Schechter argued that an English commentary on the Five Books (and the rest of the Bible as well), written under Jewish auspices, was needed to respond to these challenges.

There were already English commentaries on the Five Books before that of R. Hertz, but since they were almost always written by non-Jews, they would typically have an anti-Jewish bias. R. Hertz once remarked about such commentaries: “It is as if a version of Shakespeare were made into Spanish by a Spaniard who had but an imperfect acquaintance with English…and who was filled with hatred and contempt for the British character and the entire British people.”

In his preface, R. Hertz mentions the few and limited English commentaries written by Jews before him: a commentary published in 1844 by De Sola, Lindenthal and Raphall, of which Genesis alone appeared, and commentaries by Marcus Kalisch on Genesis, Exodus and Leviticus, which appeared over the years 1855-72. He also mentions some glosses in English on the Five Books published by David Levi and Isaac Delgado in 1796.

Schechter repeated his plea for a Jewish commentary again after his move to New York in 1902 (when he came to head the Jewish Theological Seminary). The commentary of R. Hertz was a response to the need expressed in Schechter’s plea.

The author explains further that traditional Judaism at the time of R. Hertz was threatened by the late 19th-century biblical criticism of Julius Wellhausen and by its reconstruction of history, which characterized Jewish law as anachronistic, as compared with Christianity’s emphasis on faith and morality. Also, R. Hertz was troubled by the mounting self-confidence of liberal/Reform Judaism. The work of R. Hertz should be read as a reaction to these challenges.

In his preface, R. Hertz makes the following remark: ”[T]he criticism of the Pentateuch associated with the name of Wellhausen is a perversion of history and a desecration of religion.” Using archaeology and philology, R. Hertz crafted a sophisticated work that attempted to underscore the Divinity and unity of the Torah, and the integrity of Judaism and its moral superiority to Christianity.

Aside from the need for a commentary on the Five Books written under Jewish auspices to defend and promote traditional Judaism, there was the more practical need for a commentary that could be used in the synagogue. Before the commentary of R. Hertz, if an English-speaking Jew wanted to follow the Torah reading in shul with one work in his hand that included a Hebrew text of the entire Chumash, an English translation and any kind of English commentary, there was no such work! As we walk into our shuls with hundreds of ArtScroll and Hertz Chumashim, this is hard for us to imagine! (On the very unlikely chance that there was such a work, the commentary would have been written by a non-Jew, and it certainly would not have been divided into parshiyot, let alone include haftarot!)

While R. Hertz’ work was completed before the Holocaust, it became even more useful thereafter, as the destruction of European Jewry shifted the center of gravity in Jewish life to the English-speaking world. As one scholar wrote: “Hertz had forged in advance for the Jews of England and America a tool to sustain their fortitude and faith.”

The two most interesting discussions in the book are the story of the complaint of his collaborators, and the story of how R. Hertz’ work did not sell well initially, despite the tremendous amount of work that went into it.

With regard to the collaborators, on July 8, 1929, after Genesis came out, three of his four collaborators (the other one was already deceased) wrote a letter of complaint about how their names were not included on the title page, even though he did acknowledge their assistance in the introduction. They wrote: “On the title page of the Commentary the names of your collaborators do not appear. In all similar works, proper tribute is paid in this way to those who have collaborated, as for instance in Kittel’s ‘Biblia Hebraica.’ Accordingly, we feel strongly that following the words: ‘Edited by the Chief Rabbi’ some such phrase as ‘With the collaboration of…’ should certainly follow. We do not consider that our point is covered by the bare reference in the Introduction. We submit that in the subsequent volumes, and also when a new edition of Genesis appears, we should be favored in the way indicated.”

  1. Hertz wrote back: “[N]othing is further from my nature than to deprive others of the honour which is justly their due….Your complaint, moreover, is unjustified. The English usage in regard to any collective enterprise of a literary nature is that only the editor’s name appears. (The example of Kittel’s Bible is not an analogous case). An absolute parallel case is…..Such is the rule when the contribution of each man is reprinted as it is, without any recasting on the part of the editor. How much the more should it apply in a case where the contributions have been recast and often altogether rewritten by the editor!”

Genesis sold very poorly initially, causing R. Hertz extreme disappointment. He even considered canceling the publication of the remaining volumes! But people were hesitant to buy the single volumes in view of the anticipated publication of the entire five books in one work. In 1936, the Soncino Press approached him, as they understood that tremendous sales would result by combining the five volumes into one. Also, a large donation by a friend of R. Hertz enabled the work to be sold at a much lower price. (The Soncino edition also changed the text used for the English translation at the top. Instead of the revised King James version, the more readable 1917 Jewish Publication Society translation was chosen. I admit that, until I prepared this column, I had always assumed that the translation was by R. Hertz himself!) With the Soncino Press edition, sales took off and the work became the mainstay of English-speaking synagogues of every denomination for decades. (Another English option did not appear until 1981 when the Reform movement published its own Chumash.)

For another interesting article on the Hertz Chumash, see the article by Yosef Lindell, of May 29 2017, at www.thelehrhaus.com.

By Mitchell First

 Mitchell First is a personal injury attorney and Jewish history scholar. His most recent book is “Esther Unmasked: Solving Eleven Mysteries of the Jewish Holidays and Liturgy” (Kodesh Press, 2015). He can be reached at MFirstAtty@aol.com.

For more articles by Mitchell First, and information on his books, please visit his website at rootsandrituals.org.

David Berger on the Hertz Chumash:

“I still regret the eclipse of the Hertz humash, which, for all its drawbacks, introduced a generation of Jews to a humane and uplifting vision of Judaism.”–

Artscroll Stone Chumash:

The English translation is excellent.  I feel that the commentaries are a Cholent and compromise the integrity of the individual Reshonim.


There are three Lubavitch translations.  The Gutnick version 2008, the Chaim Miller version 2011, and the Kehot Version 2015.

All the Lubavitch translations put in Rashi’s Pshat either in brackets or in lighter print.  They are good but are hard at times to get the literal translation of the words which are important to me.

A – Gutnick Version – 2008

Contains great Torah from the Lubavitcher Rebbe on the Torah, analyzing Rashi and other Reshonim.

B – Rabbi Chaim Miller – December 7, 2011

From the Amazon web site:

:This Torah tells a story… your own. It invites you to discover yourself within its pages.

With a charming, colorful presentation, multiple strands of commentary and groundbreaking, interactive features, the Lifestyle Books Torah transforms the text into an experience-personalized, engaging and happening now. Its goal is to uncover the spiritual potential and human relevance in every line.

C – Kehot Version – October 28, 2015

The english translation gives one a running commentary based on Rashi.  You get a deeper understanding of the Parsha when you read the english.  However, I do not want to read the narrative based only on rashi.  I want to put in my understanding of the narrative based on Rashi and other Rishonim.

From AMAZON – The Synagogue Edition of the Kehot Publication Society Chumash was formally released and will be available in stores next week, in anticipation of the International Conference of Chabad Shluchim (Nov. 5).

The single-volume edition includes the five-volume interpolated translation Kehot Chumash acclaimed for the new Torah study experience it had brought to its users. The interpolated translation renders the text of the Chumash intelligible to the reader with an explicated Rashi commentary including the Rebbe’s exposition on Rashi.

Hundreds of Chasidic insights culled from the works of the Rebbe and his predecessors supplement the lucid translation. Each parsha (Torah reading) is preceded by a concise introduction highlighting its particular theme as it considers the Torah’s message. Helpful introductions precede each haftarah, designed to provide the reader with historical and literary background as an aid to study of the prophetic lessons of the haftarot and their relation to the weekly parsha.

Parshas VaYigash – December 31, 2022

Danny Berger

Fred Weingust

On December 29th right after the morning minyan,  I plopped down next to Danny Berger and asked him how Rashi in verse 44:18 understood.  It happened to be that he was working on the Rashi in 44:13 and the Rashi 44:18.  Together we put together a very nice explanation.

Danny Berger:

Parshas Miketz and Vayigash – “Prepared for War While Negotiating Peace”

An idea from Rabbi Elie Teitelman

Written by Danny Berger (dberger36@gmail.com)

The black is from Danny Berger and the blue is from Avrohom Meir Morgenstern.

 Yoseph discovers the goblet in Benyamin’s saddlebag. The brothers are devastated and scared for what lies ahead. The pasuk reads:

וַיִּקְרְעוּ שִׂמְלֹתָם וַיַּעֲמֹס אִישׁ עַל־חֲמֹרוֹ וַיָּשֻׁבוּ הָעִירָה

They rent their garments; each one reloaded his donkey and they returned to the city. (Bereishis 44:13)

Simple p’shat is they tear kriah, pack up and leave to head back to the place in Egypt where they were staying. 

Rashi on above:

ויעמס איש על חמרו. בַּעֲלֵי זְרוֹעַ הָיוּ, וְלֹא הֻצְרְכוּ לְסַיֵּעַ זֶה אֶת זֶה לִטְעֹן

They were men of strength and did not require the assistance of each other in loading (Genesis Rabbah 92:8).

וישבו העירה. מֶטְרוֹפּוֹלִין הָיְתָה, וְהוּא אוֹמֵר הָעִירָה, הָעִיר כָּל שֶׁהוּא אֶלָּא שֶׁלֹּא הָיְתָה חֲשׁוּבָה בְעֵינֵיהֶם אֶלָּא כְעִיר בֵּינוֹנִית שֶׁל י’ בְּנֵי אָדָם לְעִנְיַן הַמִּלְחָמָה

It was the metropolis and yet Scripture says העירה — an ordinary city! But this is because in their eyes it was regarded as a very medium-sized city of only ten inhabitants if it became a matter of waging war against it (Genesis Rabbah 92:8).

Rashi explains that they were so physically strong that they did not to need to assist each other in loading up their donkeys. Rashi also tells us while they were in fact headed back to a big, well-fortified city, they were so strong and confident that their perception of the city was one that was like a small town which they could easily defeat if they waged war against it.

But what is the relevance of the Torah telling us about their strength specifically here?

Continuing in Parshas Vayigash, the Torah tells us Yehuda appeals to Yoseph for Binyomin’s release. The pasuk states:

וַיִּגַּשׁ אֵלָיו יְהוּדָה וַיֹּאמֶר בִּי אֲדֹנִי יְדַבֶּר־נָא עַבְדְּךָ דָבָר בְּאׇזְנֵי אֲדֹנִי וְאַל־יִחַר אַפְּךָ בְּעַבְדֶּךָ כִּי כָמוֹךָ כְּפַרְעֹה

Then Yehuda approached him and said, “If you please, my lord, let your servant speak a word in my lord’s ears and may your anger not flare up at your servant – for you who are like Pharaoh. (Bereishis 44:18)

Rashi seems to be bothered why Yehuda has to say “may your anger not flare up” if he was talking respectfully to him. Rashi teaches the following on this pasuk:

ואל יחר אפך. מִכָּאן אַתָּה לָמֵד שֶׁדִּבֵּר אֵלָיו קָשׁוֹת

From here you may infer that he (Yehuda) spoke to him (Yoseph) in harsh terms.

כי כמוך כפרעה. חָשׁוּב אַתָּה בְעֵינַי כְּמֶלֶךְ, זֶהוּ פְשׁוּטוֹ. וּמִדְרָשׁוֹ סוֹפְךָ לִלְקוֹת עָלָיו בְּצָרַעַת כְּמוֹ שֶׁלָּקָה פַרְעֹה עַל יְדֵי זְקֵנָתִי שָׂרָה עַל לַיְלָה אַחַת שֶׁעִכְּבָהּ (בראשית רבה). דָּבָר אַחֵר מַה פַּרְעֹה גוֹזֵר וְאֵינוֹ מְקַיֵּם, מַבְטִיחַ וְאֵינוֹ עוֹשֶׂה, אַף אַתָּה כֵן; וְכִי זוֹ הִיא שִׂימַת עַיִן שֶׁאָמַרְתָּ לָשׂוּם עֵינְךָ עָלָיו? דָּבָר אַחֵר, כִּי כָּמוֹךָ כְּפַרְעֹה, אִם תַּקְנִיטֵנִי אֶהֱרֹג אוֹתְךָ וְאֶת אֲדוֹנֶךָ

(בראשית רבה)

This Rashi has  four interpretations:

1 –  In my opinion you are as important as the king. This is the literal meaning, 

2 – but a Midrashic explanation is: You will ultimately be stricken with leprosy for detaining Benjamin even as your ancestor Pharaoh was stricken because he detained my ancestress Sarah one night.

3 – Another Midrashic explanation is: you are as unreliable as Pharaoh — just as Pharaoh issues decrees and does not carry them out, makes promises and does not fulfill them, so also do you. Is this what you meant by “setting your eyes” upon him when you said (Genesis 44:21) “Bring him down and I will set mine eyes upon him”? 

4 – Still another Midrashic interpretation of כי כמוך כפרעה FOR THOU SHALT BECOME EVEN AS PHARAOH: if you provoke me I will slay you and your master (Genesis Rabbah 93:6).

Rashi has 4 interpretations for  כִּ֥י כָמ֖וֹךָ כְּפַרְעֹֽה.  Why?

The simple approach to the narrative leads us to perceive that Yehuda and the brothers were scared and were reacting to this tense situation in a state of weakness. However, Rabbi Elie Teitelman points out this is not so. Considering Rashi’s explanations, what becomes apparent is that Yehuda and the brothers are extremely confident as they are willing and able to act aggressively towards Yoseph and Egypt if they so choose. Rashi is telling us the Torah went out of its way at this juncture to inform us they were strong (“בַּעֲלֵי זְרוֹעַ הָיוּ”) and confident about waging war against Egypt if necessary (“לְעִנְיַן הַמִּלְחָמָה … כְעִיר בֵּינוֹנִית”) even if it meant killing Egypt’s leadership (“אִם תַּקְנִיטֵנִי אֶהֱרֹג אוֹתְךָ וְאֶת אֲדוֹנֶךָ

Therefore, the way to read Rashi on Verse 44:18 is that Yehuda was negotiating with Yosef and outwardly expressed respect, but he was thinking that Yosef is an evil person, one who was a liar and a cheat, and we will fight you on Binyamin.  Meaning that if Yosef does not let Binyamin go there will be a war and based on the Rashis in the previous Parsha they were strong and had confidence that they would be successful.

However, Verse 44:16 is incredible and difficult.

וַיֹּ֣אמֶר יְהוּדָ֗ה מַה־נֹּאמַר֙ לַֽאדֹנִ֔י מַה־נְּדַבֵּ֖ר וּמַה־נִּצְטַדָּ֑ק הָאֱלֹהִ֗ים מָצָא֙ אֶת־עֲוֺ֣ן עֲבָדֶ֔יךָ הִנֶּ֤נּוּ עֲבָדִים֙ לַֽאדֹנִ֔י גַּם־אֲנַ֕חְנוּ גַּ֛ם אֲשֶׁר־נִמְצָ֥א הַגָּבִ֖יעַ בְּיָדֽוֹ׃ 

Judah replied, “What can we say to my lord? How can we plead, how can we prove our innocence? God has uncovered the crime of your servants. Here we are, then, slaves of my lord, the rest of us as much as he in whose possession the goblet was found.”

Amazingly, Yehuda knows they are innocent yet s willing to go into slavery with his brothers and says that we have previously sinned to God and we are being punished by God.  Despite the fact that they were very strong, he was willing to go into slavery because he assumed that this is G-ds doing.   Here he doesn’t mention any specific sin.  He may have had the sale of Yoseph in mind.

Yet two Pesukim later, Yehuda is negotiating and willing to go to war.  What changed is Pasuk 45:17.

וַיֹּ֕אמֶר חָלִ֣ילָה לִּ֔י מֵעֲשׂ֖וֹת זֹ֑את הָאִ֡ישׁ אֲשֶׁר֩ נִמְצָ֨א הַגָּבִ֜יעַ בְּיָד֗וֹ ה֚וּא יִהְיֶה־לִּ֣י עָ֔בֶד וְאַתֶּ֕ם עֲל֥וּ לְשָׁל֖וֹם אֶל־אֲבִיכֶֽם׃ {ס}     But he replied, “Far be it from me to act thus! Only the one in whose possession the goblet was found shall be my slave; the rest of you go back in peace to your father.”

Yehuda realizes that this decree is not from G-d and is not willing to accept Yosef’s demand to keep Binyomin.  Binyomin  never sinned.  Yehuda is now willing to go to war.  In his negotiations Yehuda does say that I am willing to be your slave if you agree to let Binyomin go. Verse 44:33 –  וְעַתָּ֗ה יֵֽשֶׁב־נָ֤א עַבְדְּךָ֙ תַּ֣חַת הַנַּ֔עַר עֶ֖בֶד לַֽאדֹנִ֑י וְהַנַּ֖עַר יַ֥עַל עִם־אֶחָֽיו׃ Therefore, please let your servant remain as a slave to my lord instead of the boy, and let the boy go back with his brothers.

If Yehuda knew that he was innocent and in the first verse of VaYigash Rashi says that Yehuda was willing to go to war, why would he agree to be a slave.  After all, Yosef initially never said he was not going to let Binyomin go.  All Yoseeh said was I want to see him.

The answer to this is perhaps go9ng back to the theme of 44:16 that he still felt that he sinned and G-d was punishing him or perhaps he was afraid that some of the brothers would be killed and was not willing to risk a war.

Rabbi Yosef Rothbart talked about these Pesukim in his speech today.  He said like what Danny and I said that he negotiated but was prepared for war.   Rabbi Rothbart said that the word  וַיִּגַּ֨שׁ implies three activities negotiation, prayer, and war, see Yalkut below..  Just like Yaakov when he was about to meet Eisav, rashi says והיה המחנה הנשאר לפליטה. עַל כָּרְחוֹ, כִּי אֶלָּחֵם עִמּוֹ. הִתְקִין עַצְמוֹ לִשְׁלֹשָׁה דְּבָרִים, לְדוֹרוֹן, לִתְפִלָּה וּלְמִלְחָמָה.  Negotiation is equivalent to  דוֹרוֹן .  Rabbi Rothbart mentioned a Reb Tzadok that when Yehuda said בִּ֣י אֲדֹנִי֒ he was also saying, in me is G-d.  Yehuda had faith in Hashem and this faith would carry him in battle.  This is why Jews are called Yehudim.  Because we have to always feel that Hashem is within us –  בִּ֣י אֲדֹנִי֒. 

This explains beautifully why in  Verse 44:16 Yehuda was willing for all the brothers to be slaves.     He when he could not say בִּ֣י אֲדֹנִי֒.  He felt that Hashem was punishing the brothers and that G-d was not with them.  Now that Yosef was going to keep Binyomin and let the brothers leave, he realized that this was not a punishment from G-d, he felt בִּ֣י אֲדֹנִי֒ and that he could fight Yosef.

Yalkut Shimoni on 44:18 – 

ויגש אליו יהודה רבי יהודה אומר הגשה למלחמה כמה דאת אמר ויגש יואב והעם אשר אתו למלחמה. רבי נחמיה אומר הגשה לפיוס כמה דאת אמר] ויגשו בני יהודה אל יהושע לפייסו ורבנן אמרי הגשה לתפלה ויגש אליהו.

ד”א ויגש אליו יהודה נכנסו לתוכחות אמר יהודה לנפתלי קפוץ וראה כמה שווקים יש במצרים קפץ וראה אמר שנים עשר שווקים אמר כל אחד ואחד יחריב שלו ואני אחריב שלשה. א”ל יוסף מצרים לא כשכם אם תחריב מצרים תחריב את כל העולם דכתיב כגן ה’ כארץ מצרים. כי כמוך כפרעה אם אשלוף חרבי אהרוג את כל מצרים אמר יוסף אם אתה מוציאה אכרוך אותה על צוארך. א”ל יהודה אני פותח פי ובולעך א”ל יוסף אם תפתח את פיך אני סותמו באבן.

Question #2:

Verse 44:22

 וַנֹּ֙אמֶר֙ אֶל־אֲדֹנִ֔י לֹא־יוּכַ֥ל הַנַּ֖עַר לַעֲזֹ֣ב אֶת־אָבִ֑יו וְעָזַ֥ב אֶת־אָבִ֖יו וָמֵֽת׃ 

There Are three explanations as to who will die:   Binyamin, Yaakov, or both of  them.

Rashi says- ועזב את אביו ומת. אִם יַעֲזֹב אֶת אָבִיו, דּוֹאֲגִים אָנוּ שֶׁמָּא יָמוּת בַּדֶּרֶךְ, שֶׁהֲרֵי אִמּוֹ בַּדֶּרֶךְ מֵתָה:

Rashi is saying that Binyomin will die.   However, the Rashbam says that Yaakov will die as a result. (Mesudah).

Sferno – says that both Yaakov and Binyamin will die and explains –  מאז שיעזוב את עגועגי אביו והסברת פניו יתעצב ונפל למשכב ואז ימות: לא יוכל הנער לעזוב את אביו, from the moment he will have left his father, he will pine for his father and become sick or die. Furthermore

ועזב את אביו ומת. ועם זה אביו ימות בלי ספק: ועזב את אביו ומת, also his father will die without question if the lad leaves him.

Further expanaiotn of thethree explanation of Pasuk  וַנֹּ֙אמֶר֙ אֶל־אֲדֹנִ֔י לֹא־יוּכַ֥ל הַנַּ֖עַר לַעֲזֹ֣ב אֶת־אָבִ֑יו וְעָזַ֥ב אֶת־אָבִ֖יו וָמֵֽת׃ 

The translation of the pasuk like Rashi is –   We said to my lord, ‘The boy cannot leave his father; if he were to leave him, his father would die.’

The translation of the pasuk like the Rashbam is “And we said to my lord, The lad cannot leave his father: for if he should leave his father, his father would die.”  (Koren and JPS)

The translation of the pasuk like the Sferno is”And we said to my lord.  The boy cannot leave his father because Biyomin will so miss his father, that he will get sick or die and if the boy leaves his father, his father will also die,   

Question #3

Verse 44:29

וּלְקַחְתֶּ֧ם גַּם־אֶת־זֶ֛ה מֵעִ֥ם פָּנַ֖י וְקָרָ֣הוּ אָס֑וֹן וְהֽוֹרַדְתֶּ֧ם אֶת־שֵׂיבָתִ֛י בְּרָעָ֖ה שְׁאֹֽלָה׃   

Verse 44:31

וְהָיָ֗ה כִּרְאוֹת֛וֹ כִּי־אֵ֥ין הַנַּ֖עַר וָמֵ֑ת וְהוֹרִ֨ידוּ עֲבָדֶ֜יךָ אֶת־שֵׂיבַ֨ת עַבְדְּךָ֥ אָבִ֛ינוּ בְּיָג֖וֹן שְׁאֹֽלָה׃   

These Pasukim repeat the same thing and are redundant.  One was בְּרָעָ֖ה – with evil and 6                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      the second בְּיָג֖וֹן – with sorrow. 

Comments/Question #3:

Verse 45:2

 וַיִּתֵּ֥ן אֶת־קֹל֖וֹ בִּבְכִ֑י וַיִּשְׁמְע֣וּ מִצְרַ֔יִם וַיִּשְׁמַ֖ע בֵּ֥ית פַּרְעֹֽה – Yosef is crying , so loud that everyone heard him.

What is the difference between Egypt and the house of Pharah?  How could the entire Egypt hear him?  If anything, say the house of Pharaoh first as that is limited and then Egypt heard him.

Verse 45:3

 וַיֹּ֨אמֶר יוֹסֵ֤ף אֶל־אֶחָיו֙ אֲנִ֣י יוֹסֵ֔ף הַע֥וֹד אָבִ֖י חָ֑י וְלֹֽא־יָכְל֤וּ אֶחָיו֙ לַעֲנ֣וֹת אֹת֔וֹ כִּ֥י נִבְהֲל֖וּ מִפָּנָֽיו׃ – was Yosef still crying?    

Yosef said אֲנִ֣י יוֹסֵ֔ף הַע֥וֹד אָבִ֖י חָ֑י all in one breath.  He did not pause after אֲנִ֣י יוֹסֵ֔ף, but it seemed as if he said both of these ideas in one stream of consciousness.  

Did say  הַע֥וֹד אָבִ֖י חָ֑י to rebuke them saying, you said that if Binyomin does not go back to our father, our father will die.  Why didn’t you worry about our father when you sold me?

As i look at the Sedra, I doubt if he meant to rebuke them. He was crying.   Just saying, “I am Joseph” is enough rebuke.  Besides, he was one of the holy founders of 2 tribes. He had to see G-d’s hand in all the events.  And the best revenge is success.

Rashi in verse 45:4 has to be explained.  Rashi says that he saw them backing up and Joseph said to himself, “Now, I see that they are embarrassed.”Then he called to them in a soft voice and conciliatory voice, and showed that he is circumcised. It seems that when Yoseph said “I am Joseph, is my father alive” he was rebuking them.  

Fred Weingust

At Kiddush I spoke to Fred Weingoth at length.  Comes out he worked for IBM for years and worked on 5/3rds accounts.  He understood their problems when I related to him their customer service issues.   Every summer he would load his 5 kids in their Caravan minivan and go cross country in Canada.  One year they drove route 66, first stopping off at Romanian in Chicago and loaded up with salami, hot dogs, etc.  The Levy family from Florida is also driving Route 66 in May.