In this week's Torah reading of Vayigash, Yosef's brothers come down to Egypt because of the terrible famine in the land of Israel. There is a difference between their original plan and the reality at the end of the Parasha.
We continue to discuss Yosef’s dream(s). We saw that Yosef’s attempt to appease his brothers by means of sharing his dream backfired. “His brothers said to him: ‘Will you be king over us, or will you rule over us?’ They continued to hate him because of his dreams and his words” (Bereishit 37:8).
Before Yosef revealed his identity to his brothers, he commanded those around him: “Send out every man from before me” (Bereishit 45:1). This exact expression is found in another place in Tanach – when Amnon was preparing to inappropriately (to speak very mildly) interact with his half-sister Tamar (Shmuel II, 13:9). What is the connection between Yosef and Yaakov’s other sons, and Amnon ben Achinoam and Tamar bat Maacha, the children of David? It can be demonstrated that Shmuel II, 13 serves as a mirror image of the story of Yosef and his brothers, as we will discuss in Tzofnat Shmuel. Let us start with a limited focus.
Last week we surveyed the scientific background of how mtDNA can be used to indicate a matrilineal descent from the Jewish women from whom a large part of Ashkenazi Jewry descends. This week we want to outline the halachic analysis on the extent to which this can be a tool in trying to rule on the Jewish status of a person who lacks full proof without it.
Before Yosef revealed his identity to his brothers, he commanded the members of his court: “Send everyone out from before me” (Bereishit 45:1). We will try to explain why it was so important to Yosef to be alone with his brothers. The midrash (Sechel Tov, Bereishit 45) explains that this was done for the needs of modesty. As Yosef was going to prove his identity by showing he was circumcised, he did not want his assistants to see what was not necessary for them to see.