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Coats, Dreams and Jealousy
Video 18 of 21
This is the piece we've been looking at right over here in Deuteronomy where we talk about the man who has two wives. It turns out there's only one other context, or only one person in the entire Torah that this refers to. Both of these references over here, that take place in the exact same chapter, in Bereishit 29, refer to the same person. The only person ever described by the Torah as hated. It turns out that that person is Leah.
Leah, as you'll remember, is one of the two wives of Jacob. He hadn't expected to marry Leah, he was tricked by his father-in-law, who substituted Leah under the Chuppah. Leah was veiled, Yaakov thought it was Rachel, the woman he had always intended to marry, he found out in the morning and then ended up working seven more years for Rachel and found himself married to both. Here's the text right over here in both Hebrew and English, where you have this exact phrase over here, a Senu'ah, you have it actually used in reference to Leah. Vayar Hashem ki senu'ah Leah - that the L-rd then saw - G-d saw that Leah was hated. Over here by the way it doesn't really mean that Leah was hated, it means that she wasn't loved as much. If you actually go back to the text - and I believe the verse immediately before this says explicitly that when Yaakov married Rachel he loved Rachel more than Leah. Well if you're the wife that someone else is loved more, how do you feel? You feel hated. This is how Leah feels. So Leah's perception of this is that she is hated, even though it's not actually Yaakov's perspective. From Jacob's perspective - from Yaakov's perspective, he loves Rachel more than Leah.
Anyway, from G-d's perspective, G-d sort of ratifies Leah's perspective here and G-d saw that Leah was comparatively hated; Vayiftach et rachmah - and He opened her womb, and meanwhile; Rachel akarah - Rachel was still barren, Rachel still didn't have any children. Then, lo and behold, Leah has a child. This actually is the firstborn child of Yaakov and his name is Reuven. Reuven is Leah's firstborn child. So it's interesting that we hear of Leah being a Senu'ah immediately before she gives birth to a Bechor, and it kind of sounds suspiciously like this story over here. And as a matter of fact if we keep on reading; Ki tiheyena l'ish shtei nashim ha'achat ahuva v'ha'achat senu'ah - when a man will have two wives, one of which he loves and one which he hates - or doesn't love as much. So if you just do the math, so who is this? If the only person in the entire Torah who is referred to this way is Leah, so then who apparently is the man? Who is this fellow? Well seems to be that we're looking at Yaakov over here.
Again, I'm just kind of using the Hebrew and English interchangeably, you're just going to have to put up with me on that.
We're looking at Yaakov over here, we're looking at Jacob. And it seems to be Jacob marrying two wives; Ha'achat ahuva - who is the one that he loves? That would seem to be Rachel, this one seems to be Leah, it almost seems like the story that's being told over here in Sefer Devarim - in Deuteronomy, is actually the story of Yaakov. He has children from both those wives. V'yaldu lo banim ha'ahuva v'hasenu'ah - he has children from the both the loved wife and the wife that's not as loved. It turns out that Ben Habechor - the oldest child, actually the firstborn child ends up coming from the wife that's not loved as much, which of course is what we saw right over here, right after we hear that Leah is Senu'ah we hear that she gives birth to a child, the Bechor, and that of course is Reuven. So this child over here, the Ben Habechor - this firstborn child, is going to end up being Reuven, if we follow this.
But you know, could be - just be a coincidence. We want to see more evidence that this whole section is linked to the story of Leah and Yaakov and Rachel. So what more evidence is there? Well let's keep on looking at some of our words that we found out of place. If you recall, the last word we found was this one over here; Reishit Ono, the one sounded like poetry, in an otherwise prose section. Ki hu reishit ono - you have to give the real Bechor the double portion because he is the first of the father's strength, the first of his loins. It turns out that that phrase also actually appears only one other time in the entire Tanach actually - in the entire Hebrew Bible. Prophets, Writings, the Torah, the thousands of pages, it actually appears only one other time. Where is the only other time where that phrase Reishit Ono - actually the first of someone's strength, actually appears?
Well you may have guessed it, it actually appears right over here, at the very end of Sefer Bereishit, when Yaakov blesses - wouldn't you know it - Reuven, his actual Bechor. And at the end of his life, after the whole story, it actually says about him; Reuven bechori atah - Reuven you are my firstborn child; Kochi v'reishit oni - here are these words, you are the first of my strength, the first of my loins. Or in the JPS English, the first fruits of my strength. So the only other time we have this - just to color code it appropriately - the only two times in all of Tanach that we have this is right over here when Yaakov talks about Reuven. Coincidence? Hard to say so. Over here who is the Senu'ah? It's Leah. She has a child, the Ben Habechor, turns out to be Reuven. Later on the same phrase we call him Reishit Ono, really sounds like we're borrowing from the story of Yaakov, Rachel and Leah, and of course, the birth of their children.
But the truth is, there's more evidence that supports this. Let's get back to the other two phrases. Remember there were four phrases here that seemed to resonate with us? Here are the four, so let's come back to the other two, which we haven't looked at. We've looked at the ends - we've looked at the beginning phrase over here and the end phrase, now let's begin to look at these two phrases; Yakir and Yimotzeh - shall acknowledge and he has. Both of these, by the way, bad translations. Yakir is going to mean recognize, as we talked about before, and Yimotzeh means in everything that is found to the father. So we talked about that, why these strange phrases? That he should recognize the firstborn to give him a double portion? Just say he should give him a double portion. Recognize and found. Recognize and found. Where we do have the words recognize and found? Where do we have Yakir and Yimotzeh together?
Well, you guessed it, it's actually the story of Joseph and his brothers. It's right over here. It's when the brothers after they put Joseph in the pit, after they sell him, and they're looking for an alibi, what are we going to tell Father, they then go and they slaughter the goat, they put the blood of the goat on the coat and they present it to the father, and what do they say? Zot matzanu - this we found; Haker nah - recognize please. Found, recognize. Found, recognize. It's like - what's going on? What's going on is that Devarim - Deuteronomy, is borrowing all of this from the Joseph story, and it's actually using the Joseph story as a kind of commentary to explain to you what's happening in Devarim. Or better, you might say, Devarim is acting as a kind of commentary to explain what's going on in Bereishit. You can actually read Devarim as a kind of commentary.
Let's go back and read the whole thing now; When a man will have two wives, one which he loves, one that he doesn't love as much. Who are we talking about? We're talking about Yaakov, we're talking about Leah. It turns out that Leah has the Bechor, that happens to be Reuven. Then what does the Torah say? It's as if the Torah is seemingly expressing its disapproval, sort of siding with the brothers. Then what does the Torah say? Vehaya b'yom hanchilo et banav - it turns out that on the day that the father - in this case Yaakov - portions his inheritance to his children; Loh yuchal levaker et ben ha'ahuva al pnei ben hasenu'ah habechor - he cannot make the Ben Ha'ahuva - the love child - who is this? This is going to be Yosef, the firstborn child of the loved wife, that's going to be the firstborn child of Rachel. He shall not make Yosef the Bechor; Al pnei ben hasenu'ah habechor - instead of the child of the Senu'ah, the child of Leah; Habechor - who is in fact the real Bechor, who is going to be Reuven. Rather; Ki et habechor ben hasenu'ah yakir - rather he must recognize - there are these words from the sale of Joseph - the true right of who? Of Reuven. To give him the double portion; B'chol asher yimotzeh lo - in all that is found to him. Yakir and Yimotzeh, the words that echo from the sale of Joseph.
What does that mean? If we go back again, let's just look at how those words are used in the sale of Joseph, and you're going to see that Devarim is actually telling you how to understand what's happening in the sale of Yosef. I'd actually like you to do that right now. Go back - let me put it up on the screen for you - and compare these phrases. Compare these words. How do you think that Sefer Devarim - Deuteronomy over here, is acting as a commentary to explain what it is that the brothers mean? It's almost like these are code words - it's as if Devarim is telling you how to interpret these words. Just plug the way these words are used in Deuteronomy and then take those meanings and plug them into here and you actually get a fascinating idea. What is it that emerges here?
Okay so let's read this phrase again, verse 32, what happened? The brothers, they've sold Joseph and now they're presenting the bloody coat. It's as if there's an elaborate double entendre here. So on the one hand they're deceiving their father, but, I want to argue, on the other hand they're actually telling the truth. They're saying sort of backhandedly, without saying it, what's actually really on their mind. Let's listen carefully. Vayeshalchu et ketonet hapasim - they then send the striped coat, the bloody coat; Vayavi'u el avihem - and they bring it to their father, they send it to their father. Vayomru - and they say; Zot matzanu.
Now what does Matzanu mean? Let's borrow the meaning from the way it's used over here in Devarim. What it means over here is estate. Remember the father has to take - give the double portion to the Bechor; B'chol asher yimotzeh lo - all that's found to him, which really means his estate. So over here it means - we're going to say it means estate as well. So in other words the brothers are saying; Zot matzanu - this Dad is your stuff, this is your estate, this coat is your estate; Haker nah - recognize please - recognize also - let's borrow the meaning from over here, from Deuteronomy, from Sefer Devarim. What did this phrase mean over here? Ki et habechor ben hasenu'ah yakir - you must recognize who your real Bechor is. The father has a responsibility to recognize that his Bechor is not the child of the wife that he loves the most, but he has to come to grips with the fact that it is who it is, even though it's the child of the wife that he didn't love as much. He has to recognize them. It's recognize your true firstborn.
That's what the phrase means over here in Devarim. Borrow that meaning over here and look what the brothers are really saying. Haker nah - Dad, recognize who your true firstborn is. They take the bloody coat, they say, Dad, this is your estate, this is your stuff, this is the double portion; Zot matzanu - we found this. Haker nah - recognize who your real Bechor is. Haketonet bincha hi - does this coat belong to your child Yosef? Im loh - or not? Maybe, it belongs to Reuven.
The brothers are saying - without saying it - exactly what's on their mind. They feel they can't say it to their father. But Devarim explains to us what it is that they're saying to themselves even as they present to their father. Father, how could you allow this travesty to happen? This isn't Yosef's coat, he doesn't get the double portion, he's not really the firstborn, it's the child of Leah, Reuven can't be ignored. And strangely or interestingly the Torah actually comes down on their side; this law, the man with the children of two wives, seems to ratify the brothers' perspective, they're right, you can't make Yosef the Bechor, Reuven in fact is the Bechor. It doesn't ratify throwing Yosef in the pit but it ratifies where they were coming from.
So it seems that there's substantial evidence that this is true, that Yaakov in fact is treating Yosef as his Bechor, as his firstborn.
Now I want to come back and try to solve some of the mysteries we talked about before. How does this change everything? Let's come back now to Yaakov's perspective on this story. We've been talking about the brothers' perspective on the story, how they saw it. Having gained some insight into that, let's come back to Yaakov perspective on the story and ask, now that we understand this, how does this change what Yaakov might have been thinking when all this was going on? I'll see you in our next video.
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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