The weekly Torah portion of Vayeishev (Genesis 37:1-40:23)

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Did the brothers know about the snakes and scorpions in the pit?

Yosef's brothers took him and threw him into a pit (Bereishis 37:24). Chazal tell us that the pit had snakes and scorpions in it (see Rashi there). Reuvein seems to think he is saving Yosef by ...
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Dikduk Q: Rashi and Ibn Ezra on the Sar Hamashkim

In the end of Parshas Vayeishev, the Pasuk says the Sar HaMashkim 'Lo zachar es yosef' and 'Vayishkacheihu'. Rashi explains that the dual terminology indicates that he forgot him on that day (the day ...
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Was Zerach really the first born?

וַיְהִי בְלִדְתָּהּ וַיִּתֶּן יָד וַתִּקַּח הַמְיַלֶּדֶת וַתִּקְשֹׁר עַל יָדוֹ שָׁנִי לֵאמֹר זֶה יָצָא רִאשֹׁנָה And it came about when she gave birth, that he (the infant) stretched out his ...
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Understanding the cherem to tell Yaakov that Yosef was alive

In Bereshis 37:33 Rashi cites the midrash that the brothers pronounced an excommunication and curse on anyone who would reveal what they did. This is why God, as well as Yitzhak didn't tell Yaakov. I ...
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The butcher in Pharaoh's “jail”

In Bereshis 39:20 Joseph's master puts him in jail, there termed בית הסהר. In chapter 40 we have (v3,4) וַיִּתֵּן אֹתָם בְּמִשְׁמַר, בֵּית שַׂר הַטַּבָּחִים--אֶל-בֵּית הַסֹּהַר: מְקוֹם, אֲשֶׁר ...
6
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Understanding Tamar's plan

I'm having difficulty understanding Tamar's plan. If she saw that she wasn't being given to Yehuda's youngest son why didn't she simply go to him and ask or demand to be married to Shelah? ...
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Why was Yosef, and not Binyamin, the favored son?

Bereishit 37:3 says that the reason Yosef was Yaakov's favorite is "because he was a son of his old age". But while Yosef is a son of Yaakov's old age, so is his younger brother Binyamin. Further, ...
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Why did the brothers go from Shechem to Dosan?

In Bereshis 37:17 Yosef has traveled to Shechem where his brothers had gone to tend their sheep and he is told they went to Dosan. Rashi explains this homeletically, that they found legal pretext ...
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What was the main job duty of Sar Hatabahim?

The word Tabah means to cook. In modern Hebrew, a Mitbah is a kitchen. In Arabic, Tabaha means "he cooked". And yet, from what I can find, nearly all Biblical commentators, Jewish and gentile, by the ...
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Paternity of Peretz

In Parshat Vayeishev, the Torah records the lineage of Yehudah. Er, his eldest, is married to Tamar and then dies without offspring. The same occurs with Onan. Yehudah then has children with Tamar ...
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Was Yosef sold at age seventeen?

While the start of Vayeshev (the start of Genesis 37) sounds as though the events all take place at one time, so that Yosef was sold (verse 28) at age seventeen (as mentioned in verse 2), it's not ...
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Joseph's Garment- Made or hand me down?

Source 1: Targum Yerushalmi Bereishit 48:22 which says that Yosef coat was originally Adam's. Source 2: Bereishit 37:3 Says Yaakov made Joseph's coat How can this be resolved? Source 1: כב וַאֲנָא ...
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Where does the Talmud discuss the reason for Onan's death?

Genesis 38 says that instead of impregnating Tamar, Onan let his seed go to waste, and that this angered God, and therefore God killed Onan. I have a vague memory of reading somewhere in the Talmud ...
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Source for Osnat's Locket

I've heard that the reason Joseph knew he could marry Osnat was because he saw her wearing a locket / pendant with a Hebrew inscription on it so he knew she was a Hebrew. Has anyone heard this story ...
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Was Potiphor a Eunuch?

I ask because on the one hand he and some of Pharoh's other servants are described in the Hebrew as סריס, but the translations I've seen are usually in the vein of Lord Servant. For instance, my IDF ...
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Was Joseph's bad report on his brothers evidence or simply damaging?

"Joseph, being seventeen years old, was feeding the flock with his brethren, being still a lad even with the sons of Bilhah, and with the sons of Zilpah, his father's wives; and Joseph brought evil ...
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Who was Poti-phera?

Gen 41:45 says: And Pharaoh called Joseph's name Zaphenath-paneah; and he gave him to wife Asenath the daughter of Poti-phera priest of On. [...] Rashi, citing Sotah 13b, says that Poti-phera is ...
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How long was Yosef in prison?

We know from Gen 37 that Yosef was 17 when he went out to meet his brothers and ended up on the way to Egypt, and we know from Gen 41:46 that he was 30 when Paro appointed him as second in commend. ...
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Didn’t the Ishmaelites know they were buying their second cousin?

In studying bereishis I have come up with questions about Joseph and his brothers that have long bothered me. One question is in parsha vayeshev, where we read how Joseph was sold by his brothers to ...
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The fulfillment of Yosef's second dream

In Yosef's second dream [Bereshit 37:9-10] the sun,moon and 11 stars bowed down to him. The sun refers to Yaakov, the moon - Bilhah (or Rachel - Gemara Berachot 55a/b) and 11 stars - his 11 brothers. ...
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Why was Yaakov punished for not honoring his parents?

Bereshit 37:34 (translation by machon-mamre): וַיִּקְרַע יַעֲקֹב שִׂמְלֹתָיו, וַיָּשֶׂם שַׂק בְּמָתְנָיו; וַיִּתְאַבֵּל עַל-בְּנוֹ, יָמִים רַבִּים And Jacob rent his garments, and put ...
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Was Joseph considered a Tzaddik as he went down to Egypt?

Rashi on 37 (25) cites the Medrash about what the camels were carrying: and their camels were carrying, etc.: Why did Scripture publicize their burden? To let you know the reward of the ...
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Did Reuven find out what had happened to Yosef?

In Bereishis 37:29: And Reuven returned to the pit and look! Yosef wasn't in the pit. But neither the verse nor Rashi, for that matter, explain if he ever found out what the brothers had done. ...
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Why isn't נִצָּבָה redundant?

In Bereshis 37:7 we read: וְהִנֵּה אֲנַחְנוּ מְאַלְּמִים אֲלֻמִּים בְּתוֹךְ הַשָּׂדֶה וְהִנֵּה קָמָה אֲלֻמָּתִי וְגַם נִצָּבָה - Behold, we were binding sheaves in the midst of the field, and ...
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Did Yaakov marry Bilah and Zilpah?

Bilah and Zilpah are referred to as the נְשֵׁי of Yaakov (Bereshis 37:2). Did he ever technically, formally marry them?
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Why does Rashi say דבתם refers to the children of Leah?

Rashi (Bereshis 37:2 sv את דבתם רעה) says: כל רעה שהיה רואה באחיו בני לאה היה מגיד לאביו - Any evil he saw in his brothers, the sons of Leah, he would tell his father However it would seem that ...
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Did Tamar marry a third time, and if so whom?

B'reishit 38:26 says: וַיַּכֵּר יְהוּדָה וַיֹּאמֶר צָדְקָה מִמֶּנִּי כִּי עַל כֵּן לֹא נְתַתִּיהָ לְשֵׁלָה בְנִי וְלֹא יָסַף עוֹד לְדַעְתָּהּ: Then Judah recognized [them], and he said, "She ...
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Most children in sefer B'reishit are named by women or God; why does Yehudah name Er?

I noticed in B'reishit 38 that Yehudah names his first son Er, but his wife bat Shua names the other two. Yaakov's wives name all of their children (except that Yaakov changes Ben-oni to Binyanim). ...
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How was Er considererd to be married to Tamar?

The gemarah (yevamos 34b) indicates that Er slept with Tamar sh'lo k'darka. If this is the case how was Er ever married to Tamar if the injunction of the pasuk וְדָבַק בְּאִשְׁתּוֹ (Bereshis 2:24) is ...
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How old were Er and Onan when they died?

Based on the implication that Yehuda got married after Yosef was sold, and that it was 22 years later that Yaacov and the family come down to Egypt, during that time Yehuda has his 3 children by the ...
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Rashi on Bereishis 37:12: Only their sheep, or also their father's?

Bereishis 37:12: וַיֵּלְכוּ אֶחָיו לִרְעוֹת אֶת צֹאן אֲבִיהֶם בִּשְׁכֶם.‏ Rashi there says (as I understand it) that we cut out the word es (אֶת) because they only went to to feed their own ...
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Benyamin's reward

Benyamin, while being quite young at the time, is notably missing when Yosef is sold. Does he deserve a reward for not participating or was he simply not included and therefore is incidental in the ...
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Who sold Yosef, and who knew?

I had always understood that Yosef's brothers sold him to the Ishmaelites. We know that they planned to do so, but during this week's torah reading I noticed this for the first time: כח ...
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How does the torah reading and haftorah reading relate for Va-yayshev?

How does the torah reading and haftorah reading relate for Va-yayshev? Why do we read from Amos after reading from Va-yayshev?
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Which commentators commend Yosef for noticing his fellow prisoners' sadness?

Toward the end of Parashat Vayeishev, Yosef is imprisoned along with two of Par'oh's chief servants. Starting in Gen. 40:6, the Torah tells us that he notices that they look sad, asks why, and ...
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Why did Yosef tell over the dreams?

In this weeks Parsha (Vayeishev), we learn about how Yosef had his two [prophetic] dreams. We find that in each case, Yosef told his brothers about his dreams: And he said to them, "Listen now to ...