Thoughts from Kollel KLAL


The passuk states “ויבא הביתה לעשות מלאכתו and he came to the house to do his work.” Onkelos translates לעשות מלאכתו as “and he entered to check his calculations.” The Nesina LaGer explains this is like the opinion in the Gemara that Yosef came to do work. Since it was a holiday of their idolatry, he couldn’t do standard heavy work, only light work, to check his calculations. Or Yosef always only did light work as he was the one in charge. The servants did the difficult work, and he did the easy and light work.

Rashi brings on these words another opinion, that Yosef came to sin with the wife of Potifar, however the image of his father appeared to him and warned him, “If you will sin, you won’t be together with your brothers on the stones of the choshen.” Tosfos brings b’shem Rebbi Moshe Hadarshan, this is inferred from the words “ואין איש מאנשי הבית שם בבית and there was no man from the people of the house there in the house.” This reflects that a man not from the house was there, his father, who appeared to him and warned him not to sin.

The following passuk states that Potifar’s wife grabbed Yosef’s garment and tried making him sin, so he left his garment in her hand, “וינס ויצא החוצה and he fled and he went outside.” Onkelos translates החוצה as “to the market-place.” Also the following passuk states “And it was when she saw that he left his garment in her hand, וינס החוצה and he fled outside.” Here again Onkelos translates החוצה as “to the market-place.” In Parshas Chayei Sarah, Onkelos translates חוץ as outside. Lavan asked Eliezer “Why are you standing בחוץ” which Onkelos translates as outside. Why does Onkelos translate here החוצה as to the market-place and not outside?

The Nesina LaGer answers that Lavan asked Eliezer “why are you outside the house,” in contrast to, “and not inside the house.” Whereas here, Onkelos understands that the passuk is making Yosef’s zechus great by emphasizing that Yosef fled far away to the market-place in order to be safe from the challenge of Potifar’s wife. The Nefesh HaGer adds, had Onkelos translated החוצה as “outside” it would seem Yosef only ran out of the house. Now that Onkelos translates “to the market-place” which was not near the house, it reflects that he fled far away from the place of challenge so as not to sin.

The Midrash brings, the sea saw the coffin of Yosef being brought down to it, and Hashem said “Flee from before the one who fled, as it states וינס ויצא החוצה, so too the sea shall flee from before him.” HaRav Chaim Shmuelevitz zatzal explains, the main avodah of a person is to run away from a place of danger and distance himself from challenge as much as possible. One should not put himself in a situation where he has to face a challenge head on. Although from time to time the yetzer hara doesn’t directly try to cause one to sin, he does not allow the person to be distanced from the place of challenge. At least this much he wants, that the person should be around the test so it will be easy for him to sin. For this reason Yosef did not stay to grab back his garment from Potifar’s wife. This was in order to not be in the place of challenge for even another second, although by doing so, he allowed the libel that would be placed against him. Therefore when the sea saw the coffin of Yosef, Hashem said, “Flee from before the one who fled.”

After Yosef fled it states, Potifar’s wife called out to the people of her house and she said what happened, including that he left his garment in her hand and said “וינס ויצא החוצה.” Here too Onkelos translates as “and he fled and he went out to the market-place.”  Why did Potifar’s wife mention that Yosef fled to the market-place? I’d like to suggest, she claimed that Yosef fled far away in order to hide from her and be able to deny any possible claim against him. She said this to enhance the libel against him. Even so, Yosef fled to distance himself from being near a place of nisayon. May we distance ourselves from places of nisayon and be saved from the yetzer hara.

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