Vayeishev 5778


וישב יעקב בארץ מגורי אביו בארץ כנען (בראשית לז:א)

And Yaakov settled in the land in which his father had lived (Bereishis 37:1)

The word וישב implies settling in a permanent way, as in ישוב הדעת. By contrast, the word מגורי comes from the root word גור, as in ויגר מואב, “Moav was afraid” (Bamidbar 22:3).
Both Avraham and Yitzchak were never described as “settling.” Avraham lived in a tent, moving from place to place. He never bought land upon which to pitch his tent or to build a house; he bought only the Me’aras HaMachpeilah, a burial cave, and even then he stresses, גר ותושב אנכי עמכם, “I am a stranger and a dweller with you (Bereishis 23:4).” Rashi explains this to mean, “Either I can come as a stranger and sell it to me, or I will demand it as an owner, for Hashem has promised it to me.” In the end, he acquired it as a stranger, not an owner, by paying full price.
Yitzchak also lived a wandering life. When the shepherds in Gerar stole his wells, he moved elsewhere, never making a permanent place for himself.
Yaakov, however, is different. After his encounter with Esav, he went to Sukkos and built a house for himself and huts for his sheep. Upon entering Eretz Yisrael and camping near Shechem, he bought the plot in which he wished to settle. Now, when Yaakov returns to his father in Chevron again, the Pasuk says, וישב, he settles there.
Rashi quotes the Midrashביקש יעקב לישב בשלום, “Yaakov wanted to live in peace,”קפץ עליו רוגזו של יוסף, “so Hashem brought upon him the unfortunate episode of Yosef.”
The Chasam Sofer addresses the obvious question. Why can Tzadikim not live a peaceful life in this world? Why can’t life be good in both this world and the next?
The Pasuk says פותח את ידך ומשביע לכל חי רצון (תהלים קמו:טז), “Hashem opens his hand and supplies to all life their needs” (Tehillim 145:16). Hashem creates a need in his creations and then fills it. If Hashem will fill the need, why create the need at all? Why doesn’t He just give it to people without making them feel deficient?
There is a specific gain in first having the need and then having it filled by Hashem. If someone never experienced cold, he could not fully appreciate his clothing and shelter. The greater the want, the bigger the appreciation; a person almost dying of thirst appreciates a drink much more than one barely thirsty at all.
If a Tzaddik were to live in this world without lacking anything, then when he continued on to the next world, he would not fully appreciate the goodness there. Therefore, Hashem does not let Tzaddikim live in peace, so they can fully enjoy the world to come.
The Alshich adds another reason why specifically Yaakov could not settle peacefully. Hashem told Avraham at the Bris Bain Habisarim, ידוע תדע כי גר יהיה זרעך בארץ לא להם…ארבע מאות שנה (בראשות טו:יג), “you should know that your children will be strangers in a land that does not belong to them for four hundred years” (Bereishis 15:13). This promise is a reference to Galus Mitzrayim. In the end, Hashem hastened the redemption and counted the four hundred years from the birth of Yitzchak, and Bnei Yisrael lived in Mitzrayim for only two hundred and ten years.
Had Yaakov settled peacefully in Eretz Yisrael as he had planned, then the count of four hundred years would have started only with the actual descent to Mitzrayim, and the Galus would have been prolonged one hundred ninety years! Therefore, when Yaakov tried to settle near Shechem, Hashem engineered the incident of Dina, and when Yaakov settled in Chevron, he was forced to endure the troubling saga of Yosef.


והיא שלחה אל חמיה לאמר לאיש אשר אלה לו אנכי הרה… (בראשית לח:כה)
רש”י: לא רצתה להלבין פניו ולומר ממך אני מעוברת, אלא לאיש אשר אלה לו. אמרה, אם יודה מעצמו יודה, ואם לאו ישרפוני ואל אלבין פניו. מכאן אמרו, נוח לו לאדם שיפיל עצמו לכבשן האש ואל ילבין פני חבירו ברבים.

And she (Tamar) dispatched to her father-in-law (Yehuda) saying, “The man to whom
these (items) belong is the one who I conceived from” (Bereishis 38:25)
Rashi: She did not want to shame him and tell him, “I conceived from you,” rather (she said), “The man to whom these belong…” She reasoned, “If he admits of his own volition, then he will have admitted. And if not, let them burn me.” From here we see that it is better to have oneself thrown into a fiery furnace than to shame his friend in public.

Rashi is referencing a Gemara (Sotah 10b). Tosafos there asks: If indeed a person is supposed to be killed rather than embarrass someone, why is this Aveira not reckoned together with the other three cardinal Aveiros ofעבודה זרה, שפיכת דמים, וגילוי עריות, , idolatry, murder, and adultery? For these three Aveiros, יהרג ואל יעבור, one must give up his life rather than transgress. Tosafos answers that because the sin of embarrassing someone is not clearly spelled out in the Torah, it is not grouped together with the other three sins, which are explicitly enumerated.
However, Rabbeinu Yonah (Shaarei Teshuva 3:139) offers a different explanation. The Gemara (Bava Metzia 58b) equates embarrassing someone with murder because when a person is shamed, he blushes, and, “,אזיל סומקא ואתי חוורא” “the red (blood) leaves (the face) and the white (pallor) comes (to the face, similar to death).” So, by extension, if a person must give up his life rather than kill, he must also do the same rather than embarrass. Therefore, murder encompasses embarrassment and is, by default, indeed included in the three cardinal sins. It was in this light that the Gemara in Sotah referenced the above explanation regarding Tamar.
This discussion seems to be more fundamental in nature. Both Tosafos and Rabbeinu Yonah may agree that the Gemara is actually equating embarrassment with murder and therefore obligates one in יהרג ואל יעבור. However, Tosafos is stating that the obligation in shaming is autonomous and does not resemble the obligation in murder. Rabbeinu Yonah argues that because embarrassment is really just a subcategory of murder, it is also an outgrowth of the aforesaid requirement to be Moser Nefesh, literally translated as giving up one’s soul, for רציחה, murder.
Rav Brodsky of Toronto correlates this argument with another parallel one on the same subject. Tosafos’s opinion (Sanhedrin 74b) is that a passive murder does not obligate יהרג ואל יעבור. The Rambam (Yesodei HaTorah 5:1), on the other hand, conspicuously omits this exception of passivity, and Rav Chaim Soloveitchik (ad loc.) deduces that one would indeed be required to be Moser Nefesh. (See Mayim Chayim on this Rambam, however, who maintains that Tosafos and Rambam do not disagree.)
The Gemara (Pesachim 25b) infers the source of giving up one’s life rather than kill from the rationale, “מאי חזית דדמא דידך סומק טפי”, “What makes you believe your blood is redder than the blood of your friend?” Rav Chaim provides two ways of understanding this statement. With all other Mitzvos, the exemption from giving up one’s life is based on the Torah-mandate of וחי בהם (ויקרא יח:ה), “You shall live by them” (Vayikra 18:5). One possibility is that the logic of מאי חזית teaches that וחי בהם does not apply to רציחה entirely, and any instance of murder should be preempted by instead giving up one’s own life. Or, alternatively, וחי בהם does theoretically apply to active רציחה, but because of the ethical dilemma effected by the logic behind מאי חזית, must one in practice stay passive and allow himself to be killed rather than kill another Jew. If that is the case, then in the reverse situation, where the murder is passive, he would not have to get killed.
This question, Rav Chaim says, explains the disagreement between Tosafos and the Rambam. The Rambam accepts the first explanation and therefore says one must give up his life even for aרציחה בשב ואל תעשה, passive murder. However, Tosafos supports the second explanation, and therefore insists that passive murder is not enough of an obligation to give up one’s life, since it conflicts with וחי בהם.
Talmidei Rabbeinu Yonah (Avoda Zara 28b) clearly elucidates the former explanation, thereby aligning himself with the Rambam’s opinion.
So with regard to the question of embarrassment, Tosafos – who maintained וחי בהם applies even for murder, but is countered by מאי חזית – must say that there is a new יהרג ואל יעבור, obligation for embarrassment, that supersedes וחי בהם. (Obviously, embarrassing someone is not the actual equivalent of active murder.) Therefore, they pointed out that this new obligation is included, despite not being explicitly written.
However, Rabbeinu Yonah, who says that וחי בהם was completely precluded from רציחה, was able to say that the consequences of both רציחה proper and its derivative, embarrassment, were subsumed under the identical requirement to give up one’s life.
This demonstrates the degree to which Chazal treated the regard for another’s dignity, even to the extent that one may have to give up his life to preserve it!