Interesting post on sheitels: click here
Joseph Presents His Father and Brothers to the Pharaoh (painting by Francesco Granacci)
From Torah Portion Blog:
"In a gathering of Talmide Chachamim someone raised a question. After Yosef’s goblet was found in Binyamin’s sacks the brothers were all brought back to Egypt. Yehudah stands and pleads before Yosef that they should be allowed to return to their father and that he, instead of Binyamin, be kept as a slave.
In Pirke DeRabbi Eliezer (Chapt. 39) note is made that in his speech to Yosef, Yehudah refers to their father as AVDECHA AVINU, “your servant our father” (Gen. 44,24). Yosef heard it repeated ten times and remained silent. As a punishment his life was shortened by ten years. One of the Rabbis asked a question. If you go check the passage you will find that this reference to their father is only mentioned five times and not ten.
The hostess Rabbanit heard the discussion and answered the question. She reminded the Rabbis that the Torah tells us that Yosef pretended that he could not understand Hebrew and so he had interpreters repeating in the Egyptian language what was said in Hebrew. Hence he heard the term used five times in Hebrew and then repeated five times in the Egyptian language.
The story is very interesting but there is an underlying message we can learn from it. A person can be guilty in a conversation, not only for what he says, but also for what he hears and does not find it necessary to object when something wrong is being stated. Not only must we be careful about what we say, but we must also be mindful of what we hear."
The Gemara discusses how wicked people are still expected to learn Torah, and when their life in olam hazeh is over and they’re judged by how much Torah they learned, they can’t use as an excuse that they were too busy fighting their yetzer hara due to their being handsome, because Yosef HaTzaddik had to fight it more for the same reason and he still found time to learn.
They said about Yosef HaTzaddik: Each and every day the wife of Potiphar would attempt to seduce him with words. Clothes she wore for him in the morning she would not wear for him in the evening; clothes she wore for him in the evening she would not war for him in the morning. Potiphar's wife said to Yosef, “Surrender yourself to me.” He answered her, “No.” She threatened him, “I shall confine you in prison.” He answered her, “Hashem releases the imprisoned.” She said to him, “I shall bend your proud stature.” He replied, “Hashem straightens the bent.” She threatened, “I will blind your eyes.” He replied, “Hashem gives sight to the blind.” She gave him one thousand silver bars so that he would listen to her to lie beside her, to be with her, but he did not want to listen to her. He didn't lie with her in this world because he didn't want to be with her in the World to Come.
Joseph Accused by Potiphar's Wife,
by Rembrandt van Rijn, 1655.
See this excerpt from Women's Rights in Old Testament Times by James R. Baker, Signature Books; Slat Lake City 1992:
"Even with our limited understanding of Egyptian law, this seems like light punishment for attempted rape of the wife of a high-ranking official of the Egyptian government. An instructive Egyptian folk tale from the thirteenth century B.C., about two or three hundred years after Joseph's period, concerns two brothers, Anubis and Bata. Anubis was married, and Bata came to work for him on his farm. One day as they were out planting in the field, Anubis sent Bata to the house to get more seed. Not wishing to make more than one trip, Bata took a huge load. Anubis's wife admired his physical strength and suggested he spend an hour in bed with her. Appalled, Bata told her never to say such a thing again and he would not mention anything about it.
The unnamed angry wife ingested some fat and grease to make herself sick and to look as if she had been beaten. When her husband came home, she told him that Bata had propositioned her and that when she had refused he had beaten her so she would not tell. She asked him to kill Bata so that he would not try to rape her again. Anubis was enraged and waited in ambush at the shed for Bata. As Bata brought the cows into the shed, the animals warned him of Anubis's intent, and Bata was able to escape.
After a long chase Bata and Anubis talked at a distance. Bata convinced Anubis of his innocence, and Anubis after returning home slew his wife and threw her body to the dogs.5 If this story embodies any accepted Egyptian legal principle, death may have been the penalty for attempted rape.6 Perhaps Potiphar was less than convinced by his wife's evidence. In the biblical story, Joseph eventually rises to become chief minister of Egypt, but the wife of Potiphar is not heard from again."
The story of Dinah as summarized by Rabbi Vann:
"Dinah goes out to visit her sisters in the land. Along the way, she encounters Shechem, who has intercourse with her. He then speaks tenderly to her, and falls in love with her. Shechem asks his father Hamor to get Dinah for him as a wife. Meanwhile, Jacob had heard that Shechem had defiled his daughter and was distressed, but as his sons were in the field, he decided to wait for them to come home before taking action.
Hamor comes to speak with Jacob to ask for Dinah's bride price. At this time, Dinah's brothers return home from the field. They were angry and distressed, for Shechem had committed an outrage in Israel by lying with Dinah. Jacob's sons refused to give Dinah to Shehem, because they were not circumcised. On the condition that all of Hamor's men become circumcised, could Dinah become Shechem's wife. Shechem immediately became circumcised, and shortly after that, all the men in the town also did the deed.
On the third day after their circumcision, when they were in the most pain, Simeon and Levi took their swords and went to the town. They killed all the men while they were unable to defend themselves. They seized the women, children and the property of Hamor and his men, and also took Dinah from Shechem's home. When Jacob heard what they had done, he said, “ You have brought trouble upon me, making me odious among the inhabitants of the land”. Simeon and Levi responded: “Should ours sister be treated like a whore?” "
Offering a Mohar
The law as aet forth in Exodus 22:15 specifies that one must offer a Mohar after sleeping with an available woman, and then he must marry her. This is subject to acceptance by her father. (If he refuses, he will just take the money). The only other mention of Mohar in the Torah is in the story of Shechem and Dinah. But before Jacob could accept or reject the Mohar, his sons jumped in.
In fact, Joseph was in Egypt because of two of his own dreams that made his brothers envy and despise him. As Nachmanides writes:
"Joseph had had two dreams -- one in which his eleven brothers' sheaves bowed to his, and a second dream in which the sun, moon and eleven stars bowed to him. He knew that they were both ordained to be fulfilled exactly as foretold, and in the order in which the dreams appeared to him.
This explains why Joseph acted as he did. For one might wonder: since Joseph was already established in Egypt for many years, and was a high official and a minister there, why did he not send a single letter to his father to notify him and comfort him? Hebron is just a six-days' journey from Egypt! Certainly his father would have ransomed him for any sum of money. But the dreams dictated that they would bow to him--something which Joseph understood would take place in Egypt, the place where he was gaining sovereignty and power. The dreams also dictated that, at first, only his brothers will bow to him, and that only on a second occasion will his entire family, including his father and (adoptive mother) Bilhah, do so. Had Joseph notified his father, Jacob would certainly have immediately come to him--contrary to how things were ordained in his dreams.
So Joseph waited for his brothers to come to Egypt to purchase food. But when they came and bowed to him there were only ten of them, so he knew that the first dream had not yet been fulfilled. He therefore had to devise a ploy that would compel them to bring Benjamin--without revealing his identity. Only after Benjamin had come and bowed together with his other brothers could Joseph notify his father and cause the second dream to be fulfilled as well.
Also the other ploy he devised--by planting the goblet in Benjamin's sack--was not to cause them suffering, but to be certain that his brothers did not harbor any jealousy toward Benjamin because of their father's preference of him, as they had towards himself. He therefore had to test their love and devotion towards Benjamin before he could allow him to go with them."
The following excerpt from The Cosmic Fantasy based on the teachings of the Lubavitcher Rebbe described the dreamworld we live in:
"Rabbi Schneur Zalman of Liadi explains that galut was born out of a succession of dreams because galut is the ultimate dream. A dream is perception without the discipline of reason. Here are all the stimuli and experiences we know from real life: sights and sounds, thoughts and action, exhilaration and dread. Indeed, everything in a dream is borrowed from our waking lives. But everything is topsy-turvy, defying all norms of logic and credulity. In a dream, a tragedy might be a cause for celebration, a parent might be younger than his child, a cow may jump over the moon.
Galut is a dream: a terrible, irrational fantasy embracing the globe and spanning millennia. A dream in which crime pays, the good die young, and G-d's chosen people are slaughtered with impunity. A dream in which what is right and true is seldom "realistic," and nonentities such as "ignorance," "death" and "evil" are potent forces in our lives.
The surreality of galut pervades our spiritual lives as well. Only in galut can a person arise in the morning, purify himself in a mikvah, pray with ecstasy and devotion, study a chapter of Torah, and then proceed to the office for a business day of connivance and deceit. "Hypocrisy" is not an adequate description of this phenomenon--in many cases, his prayer is sincere, and his love and awe of G-d quite real. But he inhabits the dream-world of galut, where antitheses coexist and inconsistencies are the norm."
"We are told that Jacob married both Rachel and Leah, and later Bilhah and Zilpah, all daughters of Laban. Now since we have a tradition that the forefathers kept the entire Torah, even though it had not yet been given, how can it be that Jacob married four sisters when we are told in Vayikra : “Thou shall not take a woman to her sister”—that is, one may not marry the sister of one’s wife."
The above quote is from a Chabad.Org article, How Could Jacob Marry Two Sisters? in the Chassidic Masters section.
Rachel and Leah
We are also told that the forefathers took upon themselves the observance of all of the Torah (even though it had not yet been given). In Vayikra we find: “'Thou shall not take a woman to her sister'—that is, one may not marry the sister of one’s wife."
Rashi offers no explanation. So we are to assume there is no problem with the pshat that could not be understood by a 5 year old?
The proposed answer according to the Chabad article (based on the teachings of the Lubavitcher Rebbe) is:
"Aside from the precepts that Noah and his descendants had been specifically commanded by the Almighty to observe, they also took upon themselves, as a communal responsibility, additional moral laws, which then became mandatory according to the Noahide laws and according to the Torah. If one of these universally-accepted laws conflicted with one of the "Sinai-Mitzvot" that the Patriarchs observed as their own particular custom, here too they were not allowed to fulfill that "Sinai-Mitzva." An example of such a universally-accepted law of society was to refrain from deceit, so that even Laban "the swindler" felt compelled to try and 'explain away' and excuse his deceit of Jacob.
Jacob had promised Rachel he would marry her. Failure to keep his promise would constitute grave deceit -- and would cause Rachel particularly great distress because she feared she might become the bride of Esau. Consequently, although he was already married to Leah, Jacob was in this case not allowed to observe the future law of not marrying two sisters, but was required to fulfill his promise and marry Rachel."
So - what about Billah and Zilpah? According to De-Rabbi Eleizer they were also daughters of Laban.