Why was Reuven not present when they sold Yosef? Where had he been?


Rashi #1: It was Reuven's turn to serve his father that day.


Rashi #2 and Targum Yonasan: He was busy with his sack-cloth and with fasting (doing Teshuvah) 1 for having switched Yakov's bed. 2


Malbim: Reuven was with the other brothers, away from Yosef. He intended to go to save him before the Yishma'elim arrived; Hashem sent Midyanim to take Yosef before Reuven got there.


Targum Yonasan: In fact, he hoped that, if he returned Yosef to his father, he would forgive him for his sin.


Oznayim la'Torah (citing Pirkei d'R. Eliezer): Reuven went to meditate on one of the local mountains, with the intention of returning in the night to extricate Yosef from the pit and return him to his father. See Oznayim la'Torah DH 'Vayashav Reuven' #3.


Why did Reuven rent his clothes?


Oznayim la'Torah: Because he thought that his brothers had killed Yosef unjustly. 1


Ha'Emek Davar: He thought that he was killed (not via the brothers).


Oznayim la'Torah: Otherwise, he would not have mourned, since one does not mourn the death of people that Beis Din executes.

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