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What's In a Name?
Video 7 of 8
By the way, it's not just chronologically, it's also conceptually also. There seems to be a conceptual link between these. At least Rashi and the Medrash seem to point to one. I'll just give you one little example here. Here's Rashi to Genesis 37:14, Pasuk Yud-Daled over here in Perek Lamed-Zayin. In this Rashi you'll really see Rashi treating the sale of Yosef as a prelude to Egyptian slavery. Again, there is a number of Rashis that make this point, but here's one of them. When Yaakov sends Yosef down to Shechem he sends him from Emek Chevron - the valley of Chevron. In this Rashi, Rashi is bothered by the fact that Chevron if you actually look at it on a topographical map, is not located in a valley, it's actually located in the hills. So what does it mean that Yaakov sent Yosef M'Emek Chevron - from the valley of Chevron out to check on his brothers? Rashi says, Chevron is not in the valley; Vehaloh Chevron b'har - Chevron is in the mountainous region. By the way if you go to Chevron nowadays you'll see, it's actually in a mountainous region. Rashi, who didn't live in Israel, is not going to quote it from the actual geography of being there, but from a verse. He quotes a verse that points out the fact that Chevron is in fact in a mountainous area.
So therefore Rashi provides for us instead a Medrashic teaching, and says, that you have to understand valley not in a literal sense, but in a metaphorical sense. A valley signifies the terrestrial depths of the earth, and not just the terrestrial depths but perhaps the spiritual depths. Rather, when Yaakov was sending Yosef, he was sending him; M'eitzah amukah - from a very deep place. He was sending him from the deep contemplations as it were, from the prophetic nightmare that Avraham Avinu, that Abraham, was plunged to in the depths of one night. Shel oso tzadik - when Avraham this righteous man; Hakavur b'Chevron - who was actually buried in Chevron, had this nightmarish dream, and it's the dream of course that is recorded in Chapter 15 of the Book of Genesis. It's the dream that foretells Egyptian slavery. Lekayem mah shene'emar l'Avraham b'bris bein habesarim - and indeed all of these events of the sale of Joseph which are about to take place through Yaakov sending Yosef to Chevron, are doing so in the larger scheme of things, in the prophetic world. Lekayem mah shene'emar l'Avraham b'bris bein habesarim - it's happening in order to fulfill that which G-d told Avraham. Ger yiheye zaracha b'eretz lo lahem - that your children will be strangers in a land not their own.
In other words, there are larger forces at work here. It's not just that there are human beings involved in plotting what they're going to do with Yosef, but there's a larger Divine plan. The larger Divine plan is that G-d is going to use these events - the events of Yaakov sending Yosef - to bring into action the plan that G-d had foretold to Abraham, which is that your children will be strangers in a land not their own. G-d is going to put into action the deep, prophetic nightmare of the man buried in Chevron. The spiritual valley so to speak associated with Chevron.
In any case, my point here just is, is that the Medrash and Rashi are identifying this act over here, the sale of Yosef, not just as the product of human freewill, which it surely was, but also in some mysterious way, an actualization of a Divine plan. G-d had told Abraham that his children would be enslaved in the land not their own, there in Genesis 15, and it's starting to happen now with Joseph being taken to Egypt, and eventually the rest of the family being dragged along with him, at the very end of the book of Genesis.
So again, coming back to this, where else in history do we find something like this, a conflict between brothers in close chronological proximity to a national experience of slavery? Again, it's not just in close chronological proximity to but actually at least in Rashi's view, in the Medrash's view, in sort of a causal proximity to, which is that there's a causal relationship here. There's something about this conflict between brothers which is being used in a Divine plan to actualize that. So where else in history do we get any other vision in history where something like this has happened? Where there's this close connection between the conflict between brothers and a national experience of slavery? I'm going to let you ponder that, what do you think about that? Come with me into the next video and let's compare notes.
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