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Coats, Dreams and Jealousy
Video 19 of 21
Here's reaction number 1; Vayig'ar bo aviv - his father rebuked him, rebuked Joseph. So he was angry at him. Vayomer lo mah hachalom hazeh asher chalamtah - he says, what's this dream that you've dreamt? Havoh navoh ani v'imecha v'achecha lehishtachavot lecha artzah - are we all going to come bowing to you? So response number 1 on the part of Yaakov is that Yaakov is angry at Yosef for this dream.
But if you keep on reading in the next verse, you now have response number 2, you see it right over here; Vayekanu bo echov - the brothers were jealous of him; V'aviv shamar et hadavar. Now these words are a little bit ambiguous, I don't really like this translation over here; His father kept the saying in mind. Literally; Aviv shamar - his father watched over the thing. Now the question is, what's the thing? Watched over the matter. You could understand it as his father is trying to keep the whole conflict between the brothers and Joseph from boiling over. Or more simply, it might just be referring to the dream. This is indeed how Rashi and many other - most of the other Medieval Commentators interpret it, most of them see Davar - the thing, as a reference to the dream. And most of them understand the sense of Shamar over here - watched over, in the sense of anticipated, which is to say that his father anticipated the realization of the dream. Sort of looked forward to the realization of the dream, to the dream coming true. In Rashi's words; Mamtin u'metzapeh matai yavoh - he was waiting for it to happen.
So how do we understand this? On the one hand Yaakov is angry at Yosef. On the other hand he's waiting and anticipating for it to happen. Right, so which is it? Does his father like what's happening or does he not like what's happening?
Okay so I think we're now in a position to answer this, and I think it all comes down to something which I'm going to call the riddle of the bowing moon. Remember of course in Yosef's second dream there is this moon; there's a sun and a moon and the 11 stars that bow to him. The riddle of the bowing moon is expressed over here with Rashi. Here's what Rashi says - I'm just quoting it in Hebrew, but I'll translate in English for you. Rashi is bothered by the sort of rhetorical question that Yaakov expresses in response to the dream. When he hears the dream he says; Havoh navoh ani v'imecha v'achecha lehishtachavot lecha artzah - are me, your mother and your brothers, are we all going to come and bow down to you? Because of course that's what it seems like is happening in the dream. What else would the sun and the moon and the 11 stars refer to? The sun would be Yaakov, the moon would be his wife - Yosef's mother, the 11 stars, well Yosef has 11 brothers. Are we all going to come bowing to you?
So here's what Rashi says about this, this was the nature of the question. What was troubling Yaakov, according to Rashi, is the fact that Rachel had already died, Yosef's mother was dead, she wasn't around anymore. Therefore, incredulously, according to Rashi, his question is, how can you have this dream, it doesn't make any sense? Haloh imecha kvar meitah - your mother is no longer here with us? Therefore what's really happening, according to Rashi - see Rashi changes the way we normally see it. Normally when you just read the verse you would think that Yaakov is just sort of expressing displeasure with the dream; is this really going to happen, do you really believe this is going to happen? But the sort of Medrashic overlay to this which Rashi is suggesting - this comes from Medrash over here, in Bereishit Rabah - the Medrashic overlay is that there's another sort of connotation to the rhetorical question. The connotation is that Yaakov is actually doubting the veracity of the dream. He thinks it actually might be nonsense.
The reason he thinks that is because he thinks it can't all be true. In other words, maybe I could come bowing to you, maybe your 11 brothers could come bowing to you, but what about the bowing moon? The moon is supposed to refer to your mother apparently, your mother is dead, how could she come bowing? Rashi says that what Yaakov didn't realize is that; V'hu loh haya yodeiah shehadevarim magi'in l'Bilhah - he didn't realize was that ultimately the dream would come true - and the dream wasn't actually referring to Yosef's mother Rachel, but rather to her handmaiden Bilhah. But Yaakov doesn't understand that so Yaakov is thinking and he's wondering, gee, does this dream really make sense, what's the deal with this bowing moon?
Okay, so let's add all this up and try to come to an understanding of a possibility of what Jacob's perspective on all this. Keeping in mind all of the sort of Binding of Isaac parallels that we saw a few videos ago, keeping in mind all the questions we asked earlier, putting it all together with this Rashi and the riddle of the bowing moon, if you add it all up, maybe here's what you get. Ask yourself this question. So say you are Yaakov, and you're looking at Yosef - at Joseph, as your Bechor - as your firstborn child. Now what's the role of the firstborn child? Carry your legacy forward in the family. He's going to be the point person, he's just like you, he reminds you of you, everything that he goes through is you. Yosef is like you in the next generation, he's going to be the one to take forward this dream, and to carry your dream forward into the next generation. Now you know in the back of your head that of course Reuven is your firstborn child, he's the oldest, but you're thinking, eh you were always supposed to marry Rachel, and the way you see it is that Yosef is your firstborn child, he's the firstborn child of the wife you were always supposed to marry. You think it's probably Yosef. But always in the back of your mind maybe you have these doubts, you wonder.
How would you relate to these dreams? Yosef's first dream, the second dream, the sun and the moon and the 11 stars are all bowing to you, the sheaves are all bowing to you. So if you take dreams seriously - and in Yaakov's family dreams meant something, dreams certainly meant something to Yaakov, he had these dreams, they were G-d's way of revealing Himself to him. If you take these dreams seriously, on the one hand the dreams seem to be a ratification of your choice. All of a sudden it's as if G-d is coming out of the clouds and He's actually ratifying - the Almighty Himself seems to be confirming in these dreams that it's really true, Yosef is going to lead the family. So on the one hand you're very happy. That by the way, I think maybe accounts for that reaction which we talked about before, which was; Aviv shamar et hadavar - over here in Hebrew - his father watched over the thing, anticipated the thing. He was happy, he was waiting for it to happen.
On the other hand there's a part of Yaakov which, as we've seen before, is sort of not anticipating this, is nervous about this, is angry about it, is upset, rebukes Yosef for this. The rebuke comes from sort of the other hand. The other hand is, what am I doing bowing to him in this dream? If you think about what it is that the role of a Bechor is, again, what is a Bechor supposed to do in the family? The idea of a Bechor is the one who is supposed to carry the father's legacy forward into the next generation. Ultimately Bechor is really a servant of the father, is there to carry forward the father's vision. But in Yosef's dreams what is happening - especially in the second dream? The sun is bowing to Yosef. So that's disturbing. Like, that's not the role of a Bechor, a Bechor is supposed to carry my vision forward, I'm not supposed to become subservient to his vision.
Then, compounded with that, there's this question, but one second, is this dream even really true? There's the riddle of the bowing moon. I mean, maybe the whole dream is invalid, maybe it's just nonsense, the moon can't be bowing, Rachel is already dead. Maybe that gives rise to the possibility that maybe the whole dream is false? In which case maybe it's not G-d communicating at all, maybe it's Yosef's own ego kind of getting the better of him and he has these dreams of grandeur. How do I know?
Therefore the second dream - both dreams really but the second dream in particular - casts this big question mark in Yaakov's mind, which is it? Is this G-d speaking and ratifying this in some sort of strange way, but what am I doing bowing to him? And the riddle of the bowing moon, and is it really even true? Is it really just Yosef's own imagination?
Then the question of course is, so what kind of Bechor is Yosef? Is Yosef my real Bechor? Or, is he sort of the anti-Bechor, or is he just sort of wanting power for its own sake? Wanting - not wanting to take my legacy and to carry it forward, but maybe he's interested in his own vision, maybe he's not really a Bechor in the true sense at all?
So what happens really is that the dreams amplify whatever questions Yaakov had. If Yaakov had any questions, any doubts in his mind as to who the real Bechor was, and he was treating Yosef as the Bechor, but of course Reuven is my firstborn child, the dreams - and especially the second dream - amplify those questions and he must find an answer. How are you going to find an answer? You have to devise some sort of a test, you have to figure out some way of testing this. How am I going to find out what kind of leader Yosef really is? Well in Sefer Bereishit - in the Book of Genesis, if a father was creating a loyalty test for his son, are you the leader I really want you to be, are you devoted to my vision, if you're crafting some kind of test, what kind of test would this remind you of?
So immediately after this, hey, I'd love you to go to Shechem for me, would you go to Shechem? Shechem? A very dangerous place Shechem. Remember Shimon and Leivi had carried out a massacre of the inhabitants of Shechem. Would Yosef go there? Would Yosef go alone? Would he go there because his father asked him to? Yosef hears the question, hears the request and he answers those famous words; Hineini, here I am. Hmm? Hineini in the Book of Genesis, what is Hineini, who answers Hineini in the Book of Genesis? Abraham in the Akeidah. Abraham in the Binding of Isaac. When doom is just around the corner. Yosef too senses doom is around the corner.
Rashi even says it. Rashi over here commenting on Yosef's response to his father when Yosef says Hineini; Lashon anava u'zerizut - it's a language of humility on the one hand, and Zerizut - alacrity, on the other. Nizdarez l'mitzvat aviv - he was ready and willing to go do what his father had commanded him. V'af al pi shehaya yodeiah b'echov sheson'in oto - even though he understood full well how much his brothers hated him, he knew the danger, he went anyway. What does this remind you of? It's another time when someone goes on a mission that is really a mission of doom. I'm ready to go because you asked me. Abraham. G-d says, go take Yitzchak [as a 11:14] sacrifice, and go to the top of the mountain. Avraham; Hineini - I'm ready to do it because You asked me. It's beginning to sound like another Akeidah story.
Remember before how we charted all of these parallels between the sale of Yosef and the Binding of Isaac? We're beginning to understand exactly what it might have been. There might have been a test going on, maybe Yaakov really was testing Yosef in some kind of way. But then if you look carefully, here's a list of all the kind of Akeidah connections - Binding of Isaac connections we found in the sale of Yosef. But the truth is, out of all these Akeidah connections, we actually missed one, there's a hidden connection as well, and it has to do with the angel. The story of the Binding of Isaac at the end an angel stops Avraham from sacrificing his child. An angel changes everything around. If there are all these connections between the story of the Akeidah and the sale of Yosef, is there a connection to the angel too? Can you find the connection to the angel? Is there any angel, so to speak, in the story of the sale of Yosef?
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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