Illuminations #140, Kislev 5778, Parshat Vayeishev

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Illuminations #140, Kislev 5778, Parshat Vayeishev

Torah Gems

In this week’s Parshah,Yaakov sends Yosef to check on his brothers who went out to pasture their flock. The Torah tells us that Yosef was lost, wandering about  in the field, and “a man” found him and asked him if he needed any assistance. Rashi explains that this man was none other than Mal’ach Gavriel. This explanation is somewhat puzzling in light of the fact that in last week’s Parshah when the Torah tells us that “a man” wrestled with Yaakov, Rashi explains that this was the Sar of Eisav – the angle of evil. So what indication did Rashi have that that in this episode with Yosef, the Torah is referring to a different man than the one who wrestled with Yaakov?

Rabbi Mordechai Druk explains that the when Yaakov asked the angel for a blessing he replied that he didn’t have time to bless Yaakov because he needed to “sing the praise of G-d,” i.e. the morning prayers. Someone who avoids an opportunity to help a fellow man under the guise of righteousness and piety must be none other than the angel of evil. Contrast this with the “man” in this week’s Parshah who offered assistance to Yosef in his time of need. This “man” actively sought to help his fellow man, therefore this man must be none other than Mal’ach Gavriel.

Parsha Pearls

The Torah tells us that Yosef was sold to a group of merchants who were transporting sweet smelling spices to MitzrayimRashi explains that the Torah went out of its way to inform us of the contents of their load in order to demonstrate Hashem’s special treatment of Tzadikkim. Usually these merchants would be transporting tar and pitch which have obnoxious odors but in honor of YosefHashem orchestrated a transport that had a very pleasant aroma. The question arises: Yosef was in such a desperate and demeaning situation, did it really matter to him at that point what the transport smelled like? His personal comfort during that trip was probably the least of his concerns. The Baaley Mussar point out that this demonstrates how Hashem’s treatment of his creatures is always perfect and exact. Each and every person gets exactly what he deserves and not one bit less or more.

Glimpses of Greatness

Rav Ben Sion Abba Shaul was known for his humility and great respect for others. He was always very careful to accompany his visitors when they left his house. Once a doctor came to his house to examine his feet. When he was done, the doctor didn’t want to cause Rav Ben Sion the burden of accompanying him out, so he left in a hurry before Rav Ben Sion had a chance to put on his shoes and socks. Rav Ben Sion did not let the doctor get the better of him and he escorted the doctor down the hall to the elevator barefoot!

Halacha Weekly

Q. How should a Jew act if he is partner in a business operating on Shabbat? [1-3-31]

A. Shulchan Aruch (Orech Chaim 245-1) writes, “A Jew and Non-Jew that own land, an oven, a bathhouse or a mill in partnership, or have a partnership in a store, if they make a condition from the beginning of the partnership that the proceeds of Shabbat go to the Non-Jew only, whether they are little or great, and the proceeds of one week-day corresponding to the day of Shabbat go to the Jew alone, this is permissible. If they do not make the condition from the beginning, then when they go to make the division of proceeds, the non-Jew takes the proceeds of all the Shabbatot and the rest is divided between them. If the amount of the proceeds of Shabbat is not known, the non-Jew takes to himself a seventh of the proceeds and the rest is divided.” The Ramah says that there are those that permit proceeds to be taken after the fact even if they do not make any condition beforehand, and make a general division of the proceeds. He says that it appears that if there is a great loss involved, one can rely on this and there are those that say that all this is concerned only with a partnership where each partner works on his own day alone. But if they both work together all the days of the week, while on Shabbat the non-Jew alone works, it is permitted to divide with him all the proceeds since the non-Jew is working for his own sake and the Jew is not benefitting from the work on Shabbat, since the work is not falling on him to do. In any event he does not take proceeds of Shabbat except through havlaah (absorption in) the other days of the week.

The Mishneh Berurah (R. Yisrael Meir Kagan Z”L, known as the Chafetz Chaim) writes (in the Introduction to Simon 245) that this leniency is complete if the Jew has a business or works in partnership with a Non-Jew and he makes the condition from the start. But the Seridei Eish (2-21, R. Yechiel Yaakov Weinberg Z”L) writes that he spoke with the Chafetz Chaim and he was not willing to decide on these issues to take responsibility for them. Chelkat Yaakov (3-29, R. Mordechai Yaakov Breish Z”L) is stringent that Rabbanim do not give any heter at all for conduct of business on Shabbat.  However, Chatam Sofer (Orech Chaim, 55, R. Moshe SoferZ”L) and Shoel U’Meishiv Kamah (2-69, R. Yosef ShaulNatanson , Z”L) write that if he makes a partnership with a Non-Jew in ownership of a store, he must make it through the courts to publicize the matter. Similarly, he should make a document of Purchase for Shabbat  (Shtar Mechirah), also publicized through the Courts. Igros Moshe (Orech Chaim 1-90, R. Moshe Feinstein , Z”L) says it is permitted from the start to make a partnership with a Non-Jew according to the Shulchan Aruch (above) in only two cases: 1) It must be possible to know how much is made on Shabbat and how much on the day given to the Jew alone, and  2) if he is able to make a condition with the Non-Jew that he is not required to work on Shabbat at all and the Non-Jew has permission if he wants to work on Shabbat.