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Coats, Dreams and Jealousy
Video 21 of 21
So I just want to focus here with you on this word over here Davar. It's one of these words that can mean a lot of different things in Biblical Hebrew depending upon the context. The Shoresh - the root over here is these three consonants which basically are the Daled, the Veit [Beit 1:06], and the Reish - just over here in English they would correspond to D, V, R over here. If we ask what that root means it can mean a lot of different things based upon context. On the one hand it can mean the matter, a kind of subject matter, a bunch of things. It can mean words. It can also mean to speak. It can mean any of these three things over here depending on what the context is.
I want to argue that there's kind of a train or a chain of Davars over here in the story of Joseph, and you can kind of chart them, just look for this root. It actually appears four times in Chapter 37, you can find them right over here. These are the occurrences of the D, V, R - of the Daled, Veit, Reish root over here. If you look at them you can almost find a little chain and I wonder if they kind of all sort of relate to each other. The last one of course is over here - this is the occurrence we've just been talking about when Yaakov sends Yosef out to check on the welfare of his brothers and the welfare of the sheep; V'hashiveini davar - and bring me back Davar, bring me back word. I guess the question I'm asking is, is that is this Davar over here connected to all of the previous occurrences - one, two, and three? Let's look at those occurrences because I think if we do it sort of supports the theory that we've been suggesting.
So over here is the first occurrence when; V'loh yachlu dabro l'shalom - when the brothers and Joseph are at such odds with each other; V'loh yachlu DABRO l'shalom - they cannot SPEAK in peace with one another. Over here, in the context Davar is going to mean speak. The second occurrence over here, number 2, is going to be that when the brothers hate him, they again hate him not just for his dreams but; Al chalomatav v'al DEVARAV - and we talked about that before, it wasn't just bad enough that you had these dreams but you had to TELL us about them? So it's actually both of these Davars signify Yosef's behavior, the conflict which has arisen between Yosef and the brothers.
Finally, after Yosef tells the second dream to his father and his father becomes alarmed with this idea that we're all going to be bowing to you - this is number 3 over here in our list. So it says that the brothers were jealous of him; V'aviv shamar et HADAVAR - and his father watched over the THING, or watched over the MATTER. Over here it's going to mean matter, watched over the matter. Then finally, this last one is when he sends Joseph on this mission to bring me back DAVAR - bring me back WORD.
Well what if this mission over here is connected to all of these earlier things? In other words, when we think about say the third one over here, this idea that Yaakov was anticipating the matter happening, this idea that he was, as Rashi says, Mamtin u'metzapeh matai yavoh - he was waiting for it to happen, when would it happen that Joseph would in fact realize these dreams and become the head of the family? Because remember he looks to Joseph as his Bechor. Well under that reading, so Yaakov who is here in the present is looking forward towards the future and anticipating and hoping that this Davar is going to happen.
But maybe it's sort of a double entendre that is suggested by these chain of Davars, is that perhaps, another secondary meaning of the verse is that he's also sort of looking towards the past, which is towards the other occurrences of Davar earlier. It bothers him this dream too even - as much as he anticipates the dream, the future, he's also bothered by the dream. Shamar et hadavar - he's watching over this Davar, this worrisome Davar, this idea that Joseph had these dreams and was really bothering the brothers by telling them and the brothers hating him; Al chalomatav v'al devarav. And they can't even speak in peace with each other.
Then there's this question, who is responsible for all this? Who is precipitating all of this? Are the brothers unjustly hating Yosef, or is Yosef sort of bringing this upon himself? Why does he have to tell all these dreams to everybody? Is the Yosef the one responsible for their inability to speak to each other? Again, it gets back to the riddle of the bowing moon. Is this dream just his own imagination? Maybe it's not G-d, maybe it's a lie, because how could the mother be bowing anyway? Is this prophetic or is this just Joseph imagining with these dreams of grandeur?
So when; Aviv shamar et hadavar in this other possible interpretation, he's looking not just towards the future and anticipating it, but towards the past, the past occurrences of Davar, so the next thing that happens is he sends him on this test. For what purpose? Hashiveini davar - bring me back Davar, let me know what the story with this Davar is. What's the deal with this Davar? And this is ultimately the test, bring me back word, can you go and seek out their peace? Earlier, remember the first verses of the Joseph story is that Joseph is always seeking out the brothers; [Vayaveih Yosef 6:00] et dibartam ra'ah el avihem - and he's bringing back bad reports about the brother to his father. So now Yaakov says, go search out the brothers, but I'm not looking to hear bad reports, I just want to know one thing, I want to know what their Shalom is, how is it they're doing? V'loh yachlu dabro l'shalom - remember, you guys can't speak in peace with each other? Hashiveini davar - what's the story with this Davar? Can you go, can you speak in peace? Can you bring peace back into this situation?
This, by the way, is exactly how Samson Raphael Hirsch understands it. All I'm really doing is fleshing out the evidence, the textual evidence, really to support Hirsch's theory. Samson Raphael Hirsch is of course the great Biblical commentator in the middle of the nineteenth century in Germany, and Hirsch's view is that in fact that's what happened. Yaakov is essentially testing Yosef and saying, will you go out to your brothers and will you seek their peace? It's an Akeidah test, as it were, a test of can you be my real Bechor and do what it is that you expect [with me 7:01]? G-d tests Avraham and says can you be the one who carries My legacy forward, who affirms My values and does what it is that I need in the world? Or is it all about you? The Akeidah test is meant to test that for Abraham, Yaakov's Akeidah test, as it were, is meant to test Yosef's true metal, it's an Akeidah test that goes awry, but maybe this is what it was about?
1. What Were They Thinking?
2. Building Tensions
3. From Hatred to Jealousy
4. What Was Jacob Thinking?
5. A Break From the Action
6. The Original Internet
7. The Hidden Hyperlinks
8. A Confluence of Echoes
9. Where Have I Heard This Before?
10. The Brothers' Perspective
11. When Three Are One
12. Will the Real Firstborn Please Stand Up?
13. Bechor: A Tale of Twos
14. Rabbi Soloveitchik's Theory
15. Joseph's Undershirt
16. The Meaning of the Second Coat
17. Four Links
18. Double Entendre
19. The Riddle of the Bowing Moon
20. The Hidden Angel
21. Chain of Words
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