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Beit Midrash Series Ein Ayah

based on Ein Ayah, Shabbat 12:59

(Somewhat) Innocent Brothers

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Gemara: Rav Nachman bar Yitzchak said: Notrikon is learned from here (Bereishit 44:16): "What can we say, how can we justify ourselves (nitztadak)?" – we are honest, we are righteous, we are pure, we are pristine, we are holy.

Ein Ayah: Notrikon emphasizes all of the imaginable thoughts, in this case, by Yaakov’s sons, as they tried to understand how they got in such a difficult predicament [as occurred when the goblet of the disguised Yosef was found in Binyamin’s pack]. They considered all of the ways they could have been held guilty for their actions and came to the following conclusions, whether those known to the person (Yosef) arranging their harrowing experience or those that were not. The possible indictments overtook their hearts and heightened their emotional torment, as identified by the notrikon.

Regarding Yosef’s claim that they were spies, they said, "We are honest." Regarding their tormenting thought that they were guilty for selling Yosef, they said: "We are righteous." Despite all of the sin involved, they rationalized that they had held a court case on the matter and found him guilty and deserving of what he received. Thus, they could claim to have done the right thing.

Regarding Yosef’s claim against them (before he had been sold) that they were impure in that they had looked lewdly toward the women of the land, they thought and decided that they were free of wrongdoing on the matter (pure) and Yosef had made a mistake in that regard. Regarding Yosef’s old claim that Leah’s sons belittled the sons of the maid servants, they looked into their hearts and said that they were pristine. Since none of the possible indictments was true, they remained in a state of holiness. These indictments were all rejected by the word nitztadak.
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