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Sunday, November 25, 2007

Vayeishev, Breishis 37:3. The Kesones Pasim.

What ‘chein’ did the ksones bring Yosef? Not very much, of course. The gift of the ksones brought down on Yosef an avalanche of tzoros (Shabbos 10b--ba’avur mishkal shnei sla’im milss....) So why, if receiving the ksones triggered the jealousy of the brothers and the ensuing hardship for everyone involved, do we ask, during birchas kohanim, that Hashem should bring us chein in everyone’s eyes, as happened when Yakov dressed his son in the ksones hapasim? What kind of brocho is that? Do we want to be thrown into a pit of scorpions and sold like a dog?

Of course, the main reason we refer to the story of the kesones pasim is because saying 'pasim' enables us to safely enunciate the letters of the Sheim Hashem that is in Birchas Kohanim. But it does also have to make sense, and certainly we would not ask for something that resulted in such suffering.

Rashi here says that the word 'pasim' stands for Potiphar Socharim Yishme’elim and Midyanim. Perhaps this means that with the ksones came a brocho that ultimately saved him from all these threats, and so the ksones was a good thing. Even so, why ask for a refu’ah which causes the makkeh that it heals?

But see Rav Rudderman’s sefer Sichas Levi in this parsha where he discusses the hashgacha pratis in the mechiras Yosef, and stresses that we, humans, are nearsighted, and only see what is immediately apparent, constrained in time and place. The story of Yosef teaches us that we must learn to think in broader terms. Things may be incomprehensible in the particular, but perfectly clear in the broader perspective. All that a person experiences is a part of a great plan of how Hashem leads the world, and suffering leads to yeshu’os and nechomos--our reactions are like those of a patient who feels anger against the anaesthesiologist for piercing his arm with a needle. Thus, the kin’oh and mechiras Yosef was a great brocho, despite the suffering along the way for Yosef and Yakov. Similarly, the Medrash in this parshas says that the seuda the brothers ate after the mechira foreshadowed the fact that what they had just done would result in the placing of Yosef into a position in which he was enabled to save countless people from starvation.

In truth, the ksones did bring chein to Yosef, and it probably was this quality of the ksones that generated the jealousy. If so, the ksones is just like any brocho, which brings kin’ah from others. This is why every brocho of the birchos kohanim has a second part which asks that Hashem protect us from the negative effects that receiving a brocho can have, e.g., yevorechecha, ve’yishmerecha (min hamazikim which might come after the brocho is received). We always ask for a brocho even though we know that if the brocho is fulfilled, others might envy us for our happiness and success.

I was talking to Reb Shmuel Faivelsohn several years ago, and he said that Yosef, when wearing the ksones, did have chein, but his brothers refused to see it because of already-existing hatred— a form of denial, which is the refusal to see a reality because of the emotional trauma accepting it would cause. This is what we mean with the words “be’einei kol ro’av”. The brothers were not ‘ro’av’.


LkwdGuy said...

I was always bothered by this question. Nice pshat. However, we say more than just chain. We mention rachamim also. Can you really stretch this mehalich to rachamim too?

Barzilai said...

Well, there are four pshotim in the post. Rashi (Potiphar/Sochrim), Rav Rudderman (ultimate blessing far outweighs temporary tzaar), Birkas Kohanim (every brocho carries a risk), and Rav Faivelson (the brothers great anger blinded them to the chein).

Rashi would shtim with rachamim too; so would Rav Rudderman. But the Birkas Kohanim and the last teretz do seem to have a problem with rachamim; the rachamim aspect doesn’t seem to have done a thing for him. I can see why according to those teirutzim it’s a docheik.