In Bereshit 39 - end of parshat Vayeishev - the Torah keeps using the word ויהי. In 23 verses, there are 15 times the word ויהי repeated.

Is there a significance of the ויהי repetition, over and over, in this Chapter?

  • 1
    I can't remember where I learnt it but the word 'vayehi' is normally used to intimate/hint that something bad is about to happen. Owing to the fact that that this introduces the period when Yosef started working with Potiphar it is fitting as it would result in the interaction with eishes potiphar and his ensuing imprisonment
    – Dov
    Dec 12 '20 at 18:05

Gemara Megillah (10b) is the source of the concept you mention, saying

אמר רבי לוי ואיתימא רבי יונתן דבר זה מסורת בידינו מאנשי כנסת הגדולה כל מקום שנאמר ויהי אינו אלא לשון צער - we have a mesorah that any mention of the word "Vayehi" is a reference to pain.

The Alshich (39:2) seems to address your point explaining each "Vayehi" throughout the passage where it was a painful situation on many levels, whether for Yosef himself being in Egypt or Hashem remainaing with Yosef during that time, which was a "painful" lack of honor for Hashem.

  • 1
    The Gemara in Megillah modifies it to only "ויהי בימי" represents צער, because just ויהי has too many counterexamples.
    – N.T.
    Dec 13 '20 at 11:05
  • @N.T. Point well taken - for whatever reason, many Meforshim, including the Alshich in the aforementioned source point to 'vayehi' alone being painful: מלת ויהי היא צרה
    – NJM
    Dec 13 '20 at 14:58
  • True. I don't understand that, tbh.
    – N.T.
    Dec 14 '20 at 8:18
  • Also refer to Esther Rabbah where it says similar and brings numerous examples - sefaria.org/…
    – Dov
    Jul 22 at 5:48

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