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VAYIGASH: Favouritism or Fair Play?

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To each (of the brothers) he (Joseph) gave changes of clothing but to Binyamin he gave three hundred pieces of silver and five changes of clothing (Gen 45:22)

The Talmudic sages (Megila 16b) ask an obvious question on this verse. How could Joseph have failed to learn a lesson from his own circumstance? As a result of his father gifting him a special coat, his jealous brothers were incited to sell him. Now he risks provoking similar jealousy by giving preferential treatment to Binyamin!

The Talmud answers: Joseph saw prophetically that in the future Mordechai, a descendant of Binyamin, would emerge from the royal palace dressed in five regal garments (Esther 8:15).

Rabbi Elijah, the Gaon of Vilna (the Gra) (1720-1797) articulates the question uppermost in all our minds: Joseph’s prophetic intuition was not shared by his brothers. From their perspective it would have seemed an act of crass favouritism, pure and simple. The Gemara does not appear to resolve the question


© The Times of Israel (Blogs)

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