Why did Yakov say "Tarof Toraf Yosef", and also "Chayah Ra'ah Achalas'hu"?


Rashi: It was a prophetic statement with reference to the wife of Potifar, who would attempt to seduce him and cause him to be incarcerated.


Rashi (Bereishis 49:9): He assumed that Yehudah (who is called a lion) had killed him.


Hadar Zekenim #1: This is due to Yehudah. (Had he said to return Yosef, they would have heeded him.)


Hadar Zekenim #2: Yakov said so incredulously. Did a beast devour him?! If so, his robe would be torn in pieces!


Moshav Zekenim: He suspected that the brothers did not want to overtly kill him, so they tied him up, and a wild beast tore him to pieces.


Targum Yonasan: A wild beast did not devour him, nor did a human-being kill him. Rather, I see with Ru'ach ha'Kodesh that a wicked woman stands against him. 1


Malbim: There were two astonishments. (a) Even if he was punished for a sin, an animal should not have eaten him. We find that the Navi sent to Beis Kel was killed by a lion, but the lion did not eat him (Melachim 1:13:24). (b) Why was Yosef torn via an animal? An animal rules over man only if he appears to it like an animal. He was also astounded "Kesones Beni Chayah Ra'ah Achalas'hu" - why did only the outer robe remain? Did it eat his inner robe?! Rather, [people] with choice killed him!


If so, why did he say "I will descend to She'ol (the grave) mourning my son" (verse 35)? Tzafnas Pane'ach (33,35) - the blood of a youth below 20 who never married resembles an ox' blood (Nidah 19b). Since the blood looked like a goat's blood, he thought that Yosef had sinned with a woman, and Yakov would not need to descend to Gehinom to save him. Indeed, the image of Yakov appeared to Yosef and saved him from sinning with Eshes Potifar (Rashi 39:11).


How could Yakov declare Yosef dead on the basis of his clothes? Yevamos 120a says that we do not rely on clothes (to identify a Mes and permit his wife to remarry)!


Oznayim la'Torah: It is only clothes and articles that people tend to lend out that cannot serve as evidence of identity, 1 but clothes that one does not lend 2 - such as Yosef's special cloak, are evidence.


Since the owner may have lent them to the person who subsequently died.


Yevamos, 120b. (What was the question? Yakov mourned, but he did not rely on the robe to permit anything! Perhaps he would not have said that Yosef died, lest he 'invite' the Satan, if he had any Safek. Alternatively, amidst Safek he would not tear his clothes and be Batel from Torah (a mourner may learn only sad things. There was not yet Sefer Iyov, Yirmeyah, Eichah, and the Agados on the Churban. - PF)


Why did Hashem not reveal the truth to Yakov?


Rashi, from Midrash Tanchuma: Because the brothers had issued excommunication and a curse on whoever would reveal the truth, and joined Hakadosh-Baruch-Hu [to be one of the 10 needed for the Cherem]. 1


Gur Aryeh: Hashem did not make Himself part of the Cherem. They used Hashem to be the 10th present. Hashem honored their Cherem. If not for the Cherem, Hashem would have answered Yakov's Tefilah to tell him where Yosef was.


'Mizrachi: The Cherem was in order to fulfill the decree of Galus Mitzrayim. Therefore, once Yosef told his father to descend, the Cherem was annulled. There was no need to permit it. Maharik (37) - Hashem agreed, in order that Yakov be punished Midah k'Neged Midah (refer to 37:34:1:1). Gur Aryeh - the brothers did not know this! Rather, it was lest Yakov curse them.


Why did Yakov say the double expression "Tarof Toraf"?


Ohr ha'Chayim: (a) An animal tore and killed him; (b) It tore and took his body to its abode; therefore, Yakov despaired of searching for his bones to bury them. If not, he would have searched to fulfill the Mitzvah of burial!


Ha'Emek Davar: He was astounded. He estimated that Yosef should be saved even from evil people, and all the more so from vicious animals without free choice (refer to 37:13:151:6*)!



Rashi writes that Yitzchak knew that Yosef was alive. Why did Yitzchak not tell Yakov?


Rashi: Because he said that if Hashem does not want to reveal to Yakov, how can I do so?! 1


This connotes that Hashem did not tell Yitzchak about the curse. Perhaps He could not tell him without speaking Leshon ha'Ra about the brothers, or making it seem that He desired to pain Yakov. (PF)

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