web analytics
July 8, 2015 / 21 Tammuz, 5775
At a Glance
Judaism
Sponsored Post


Home » Judaism » Parsha »

Why Did Yosef Have To Swear?

Taste-of-Lomdus-logo

This week’s parshah begins with Yaakov Avinu on his deathbed. He called for and requested of Yosef not to bury him in Mitzrayim, but rather in Eretz Yisrael. Although Yosef agreed to fulfill this request, Yaakov asked him to swear that he would keep his word, which he did.

The Panim Yafos, authored by the Hafla’ah, addresses the validity of Yosef’s oath. After all, Yaakov is Yosef’s father, and as such the mitzvah of kibud av demands that Yosef heed his requests. The halacha is that when one swears to perform a mitzvah, the oath is not valid. This is because he is already obligated to perform the mitzvah. Therefore, the oath does not require him to perform a voluntary action.

The Gemara in Nedarim 8a, however, says that one may take an oath stating that he will perform a mitzvah, for it will ensure that he will not be lax in performing it. If one knows that non-performance of the mitzvah will induce an additional punishment for not keeping his oath, he will be more frivolous about keeping the mitzvah.

The Gemara quotes a pasuk in Tehillim as the source for the halacha that one may swear that he will perform a mitzvah. Asks the Panim Yafos: Why didn’t the Gemara cite the pasuk of Yosef swearing that he would bury his father in Eretz Yisrael, which he was already obligated to perform by means of the mitzvah of kibud av?

According to the Shvus Yaakov (siman 168), this question does not begin. He understands that the mitzvah of kibud av does not require that one heed his father’s request after the latter passes from this world. The mitzvah would only apply if one’s father left money and instructed his son what to do with the money after his passing. In fact, the Shvus Yaakov cites this pasuk as a source for this halacha. He asks: Why did Yaakov have to make Yosef swear that he would do this? Why was the mitzvah to listen to his command not sufficient? His answer: we see from this that there is no obligation to listen. Thus, Yaakov had Yosef swear that he would bury him in Eretz Yisrael.

The Maharsham argues with the Shvus Yaakov on this matter and refers to the Ramban here in Parshas Vayechi, who states clearly that Yaakov had no doubt that his son Yosef would observe his command. Yaakov only had Yosef swear so that Pharaoh would allow him to go to Eretz Yisrael. Yaakov knew that Pharaoh would not allow Yosef to leave Mitzrayim so easily. Therefore, he wanted Yosef to swear – so that Pharaoh would allow him to not break an oath.

It is a machlokes whether the mitzvah of kibud av requires one to heed a command from parents after they are no longer alive. Those who say that there is no obligation explain that it was for that reason that Yaakov had Yosef swear. Others who hold a contrary opinion explain that this oath was in addition to the obligation to heed the command.

The Panim Yafos answers his original question as follows: The Gemara in Nedarim 8a says that the reason why an oath that one takes to uphold a mitzvah should not be valid is because we already took an oath to uphold the mitzvos at Har Sinai. Since we already swore to keep the mitzvos, taking another oath to do so is superfluous. This is similar to swearing the same oath twice not to eat a certain food. The term the Gemara uses is “mushba v’omed” – we have already sworn to do this; thus the new oath should not take effect. The Gemara concludes that the oath does in fact take effect because it will enhance our performance of the mitzvah.

Now we can understand why the Gemara could not derive this from Yosef. Yosef lived before we received the Torah on Har Sinai. Although the avos and their offspring kept the Torah, it was not through any oath; their Torah observance was without any oath to do so. Thus, had anyone taken an oath to perform an action that was a mitzvah, the oath would have surely been valid. We would not be able to deduce from this that if one who lives after the Torah was given on Har Sinai takes an oath, the oath would be valid – in view of the fact that we swore to keep the Torah.

About the Author: For questions or comments, e-mail RabbiRFuchs@gmail.com.


If you don't see your comment after publishing it, refresh the page.

Our comments section is intended for meaningful responses and debates in a civilized manner. We ask that you respect the fact that we are a religious Jewish website and avoid inappropriate language at all cost.

If you promote any foreign religions, gods or messiahs, lies about Israel, anti-Semitism, or advocate violence (except against terrorists), your permission to comment may be revoked.

No Responses to “Why Did Yosef Have To Swear?”

Comments are closed.

Current Top Story
Billboard posted by CAMERA during the Hamas war against Israel.
Flip-Flopping on Felling of Terrorist Groups’ Founders
Latest Judaism Stories
17th_of_Tammuz_(medium)_(english)

17th of Tammuz: Beginning 3 weeks of mourning for the destruction of the Holy Temple in Jerusalem.

Rabbi Avi Weiss

With Ruth, The Torah seems to be stating that children shouldn’t be punished for the sins of parents

Neihaus-070315

Without a foundation, one cannot hope to build a structure.

Torat-Hakehillah-logo-NEW

Why do we have a parsha in Sefer Shemos named after Yisro who was not only a former idolater, but actually served as a priest for Avodah Zarah!

Question: Should we wash our hands in the bathroom with soap and water, or by pouring water from a vessel with handles three times, alternating hands? I have heard it said that a vessel is used only in the morning upon awakening. What are the rules pertaining to young children? What is the protocol if no vessel is available? Additionally, may we dry our hands via an electric dryer?

Harry Koenigsberg
(Via E-Mail)

This Land Is ‘My’ Land
‘[If The Vow Was Imposed] In The Seventh Year…’
(Nedarim 42b)

The Shulchan Aruch in the very first siman states that one should rise in the morning like a lion, implying that simply rising form bed requires strength of a lion, in line with the Midrash.

Attempts to interpret the message of Hashem in the absence of divine prophecy ultimately may twist that message in unintended ways that can lead to calamitous events.

Suddenly, the pilot’s voice could be heard. He explained that this was a special day for those passengers on board who lived in Israel.

If the sick person is thrust into a situation where he is compelled to face his sickness head on, we who are not yet sick can encourage him by facing it with him.

All agree that Jews ARE different. How? Why? The Bible’s answer is surprising and profound.

What’s the nation of Israel’s purpose in the world? How we can bring God’s blessings into the world?

“Is there a difference between rescuing and other services?” asked Ploni.

To my dismay, I’ve seen that shidduch candidates with money become ALL desirable traits for marriage

Bil’am’s character is complex and nuanced; neither purely good nor purely evil.

More Articles from Rabbi Raphael Fuchs
Taste-of-Lomdus-logo

The Shulchan Aruch in the very first siman states that one should rise in the morning like a lion, implying that simply rising form bed requires strength of a lion, in line with the Midrash.

Taste-of-Lomdus-logo

Tosafos answers that nevertheless the sprinkling is a part of his taharah process.

Performing ketores outside the Beis Hamikdash, and at the wrong time is an aveirah.

Ten of the twelve spies returned with a negative report, stating that this would be impossible.

The flavor of the mon was not artificial; the mon would now consist of the actual flavors from the desired food.

Tosafos suggests several answers as to how a minor can own an item, m’d’Oraisa.

The question is: What about pidyon haben? Can one give the five sela’im required for pidyon haben to a kohen’s daughter?

The mitzvah that parents must give their son a bris milah is a mitzvah that they must perform for someone else – namely their son.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/judaism/parsha/why-did-yosef-have-to-swear/2013/12/12/

Scan this QR code to visit this page online: