Take the 2-minute tour ×
Mi Yodeya is a question and answer site for those who base their lives on Jewish law and tradition and anyone interested in learning more. It's 100% free, no registration required.

Rashi to 45:4 says that when Yosef told his brothers to approach him, it was to show them his circumcision (presumably to prove he was Jewish). But how would that prove anything? All of Egypt had been circumcised already, as Rashi says on 41:55. If his showing his circumcision wasn't to prove he was Jewish, why did he do it?

share|improve this question
    
add comment

6 Answers 6

up vote 13 down vote accepted

Chizkuni asks this and offers two answers:

  1. The reason the Egyptians were circumcised was because of the hunger of the famine. Yosef however was rich and therefore the only reason he would circumcise himself would be if he was Jewish.

  2. Although all the Egyptians were in fact circumcised, the brothers were not aware of this this and would recognize Yosef on the basis of his bris.

The Tzeida Laderech adds two more explanations:

  1. Since Yosef was born circumcised (as Midrash Rabba says), this would be apparent.

  2. Our sages say that one who has relations with a gentiles affects his bris, so seeing his bris proved he was not Egyptian.

share|improve this answer
    
I don't understand something in Chizkuni: he first asks that perhaps he was a Yishmaeli and answers that since they only have a bris when they are older the priyah is not apparent. He then asks perhaps he was Egyptian, and gives the two answers above. Why doesn't the answer regarding Yishmaeli not work to negate him being Egyptian? –  Michoel Dec 17 '12 at 0:01
    
don't know if it is an answer, but I remember reading somewhere that yishmaelim only do milah and not priya. Yosef however, was telling the Egyptians to circumcise themselves (falling under the umbrella of servants of the house of Avraham, who also received circumcision). Perhaps they therefore did priya as well. –  Menachem Dec 17 '12 at 0:07
    
I think the second answer of Tzeida Laderech has an additional important detail. After all, Yossef has married Osnat Bat Poti Fera, which is apparently an Egyptian. I assumed that it's OK since she was converted (as Menashe & Efraim are certainly considered Israeli), but I saw here that the Targum Yonatan explains that Osnat was actually _Dina_m Yaakov's daughter. –  yair Dec 17 '12 at 0:15
    
@Menachem The Tzeida Laderech asks on Chizkuni based on what you are saying that Yishmaelim don't do priya. However Chizkuni himself seems to be saying that they did do it but due to their age it looks different. If so this should be case with the Egyptians as well (at most their bris would have taken place two years prior). –  Michoel Dec 17 '12 at 0:16
add comment

In the הסכמות to the sefer נחמד מזהב, Rav Shmuel Yaakov Koppel Katz says that from the time that Avraham was commanded to do Bris Milah until Har Sinai, all of Bnei Noach were commanded in this mitzvah, but they were not commanded to do priah (the uncovering). But Tosfos writes that Avraham himself did do priah since Yisrael were to be commanded to do so in the future, and his offspring certainly continued to do this as well.

This is what Rashi means when he says "שהרי אני מהול ככם" - I am circumcised like you, with priah, not like the Egyptians who have not done priah.

share|improve this answer
add comment

If the brothers knew about it, they would have known the reason - that they were forced to do it in order to obtain food.

Yosef, as the second in command, would not have been forced due to his position (giving out the food to everyone else). So the fact that he was circumcised would have had to have been for a different reason.

ברוך שכוונתי וכו

share|improve this answer
add comment

Kli Yakar explains that one who has relations with an Aramis (gentile) his Orla gets stretched (Moshcha Orloso). He wanted to show the brothers that he is the same Tzadik and did not sin while he was in Egypt.

share|improve this answer
1  
I understand Kli Yakar. But my questions is more on Rashi (who qoutes the midrash) that "Yosef shows the brothers his circumcision as a *proof of him being a son of Yaakov. It clearly says Circumcision so how do you explain it according to Rashi is my question –  user5224 Jul 1 at 18:52
    
Could one not have relations with an female Aramean, experience Praeputial stretching, and then be circumcised? Also why does your source say Aramis. Do Egyptian women produce the same effect? –  Clint Eastwood Jul 1 at 22:06
add comment

Just a guess, but probably the wound having healed from childhood would look very different than an adult's fresh one.

share|improve this answer
    
I like that answer. But the only problem is: That Rashi says he showed him his ""Circumcision"" meaning that it was the fact that he had a Circumcision is the proof. I like the answer but I do not think it fits clearly in the text of Rashi. –  user5224 Jul 1 at 18:56
2  
More precisely it says "והראה להם שהוא מהול" i.e. "and showed them that he was circumcised". (Stronger support for @user613's comment.) –  msh210 Jul 1 at 18:59
add comment

Ok. Heres another answer. This one is good. The egyptians hated millos and people who had them. It was a cherpa to them. For a person to happily show his milla would be a proof that he is a 'Mahul' and not just a person missing his foreskin.

share|improve this answer
1  
Not bad. Vis-a-vis Rashi, it would be more powerful if Rashi could be shown to agree with that observation about the Egyptians of the time. –  Yishai Jul 1 at 21:44
    
Hey, its a powerful question. I like it very much. I'm just throwing out some ideas. –  user6591 Jul 1 at 21:48
    
+1, great idea! –  Shokhet Jul 1 at 22:48
add comment

Your Answer

 
discard

By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.