Thursday, December 6, 2018

Parshas Mikeitz 5779

Why Didn't Joseph Eat with His Brothers?

The Torah writes (Genesis 43:32):
They served him by himself, and them by themselves, and the Egyptians who ate with him by themselves; for the Egyptians could not dine with the Hebrews, since that would be abhorrent to the Egyptians.
There are two things happening here:
  1. Joseph not sitting with the brothers while eating.
  2. The brothers not eating together the Egyptians.
Bechor Shor answers #1:
Because of his greatness for it is not right to eat at the king's table unless you are a great person ... but they were seated close to him
HaEmek Davar explains similarly why regular people don't eat with the king:
... He should be demeaned in their eyes, or they should not be able to pass a knife to him and fight with him; but he did sit the brothers with the Egyptians because they were abhorrent...
 There are also multiple answers for #2 which answers #1 as well. Rashi (ibid) writes:
it is a hateful thing to the Egyptians to eat together with the Hebrews. Onkelos states a reason for this.
Onkelos explains:
They served to him by himself, and to them by themselves, and to the Egyptians eating with them by themselves because Egyptians cannot eat bread with Hebrews for the domesticated animals that the Egyptians worship, the Hebrews eat

The Torah writes similarly later on (Exodus 8:22)
But Moses replied, “It would not be right to do this, for what we sacrifice to the LORD our God is untouchable to the Egyptians. If we sacrifice that which is untouchable to the Egyptians before their very eyes, will they not stone us!
Rashi explains there:
The act of sacrifice which we practise is a hateful thing to the Egyptians seing that we sacrifice their god

However, Radak explains differently:
Egyptians did not eat sheep or goats, and the only reason they raised these animals was for their wool and their milk.
Chizkuni explains:
Egyptians detested eating at the same table as aliens, as they felt that they were a superior race and everyone else was way inferior.
Rashbam explains in a similar fashion:
The Egyptians’ attitude to people whose vocation was to tend flocks was one of utter disdain, as we know from 46,34. They had contempt for sheep and goats, hence their contempt transferred itself to the people raising such animals. This attitude to sheep and goats is mirrored when Moses asks Pharaoh how he could expect the Israelites to slaughter such animals while in Egypt without running the risk of the local populace stoning them to death for doing this. (Exodus 8,22) Stoning someone to express one’s disgust with his conduct is nothing new; we encounter it in Samuel II 16,5-6 when Shimi ben Geyrah, not only cursed (king) David publicly, but also threw stones at him.
Shadal explains this was because the Egyptians had their own religious customs for eating like the Greeks, and their religion wouldn't allow them to sit with people from other religions

Shape of the Menorah

Interesting article from Chabad.org addressing the discrepancy between the shape of the Menorah as described by the Rambam and archeological evidence