Parshas Vayeishev-Summary of the Parsha

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Parshas Vayeishev

Pesukim:112  [Siman: יבק]

Haftorah: Amos 2:6-3:8

Number of Mitzvos:

There are no Positive or Negative commands mentioned in Parshas Vayeishev.



  1. Yosef’s relationship with his father and brothers:
  • Yaakov dwelled in the land of his fathers, in the land of Canaan.
  • The slander: Yosef was a lad of 17 years of age. He was a shepherd with his brothers and spent time with the children of the maids. Yosef gave bad reports of his brothers to his father Yaakov.
  • Favoritism showed to Yosef: Yaakov loved Yosef more than any of his other sons, as he was born in his old age. Yaakov made for him a beautiful garment. The brothers saw that their father loved Yosef, and could not speak to him in peace.
  1. Yosef’s dreams:
  • Yosef had a dream, and he told his brothers, which led to them hating him even more.
  • The first dream: The following was his dream: We were all gathering stalks in the field and my stalk got up and all your stalks turned towards my stalk and bowed to it. The brothers responded to the dream “Will you reign and rule over us,” and they continued to hate him.
  • The second dream: Yosef had a second dream and he told it to his brothers. “I saw the sun, moon and eleven stars bowing to me.” Yosef told the story to his father and brothers, and his father rebuked him saying “Do you really believe that I, your mother and your brothers will bow to you.”
  • The brothers were envious of Yosef, however, his father preserved the matter in his memory.



  1. Yosef travels to visit his brothers in Shechem
    • Yosef is sent to Shechem: The brothers of Yosef went to graze the sheep in Shechem. Yaakov asked Yosef to visit his brothers in Shechem, and see as to their wellbeing, and the wellbeing of the sheep, and report back to him. Yosef was sent from the valley of Chevron and arrived in Shechem.
    • Yosef searches for his brothers: A man found Yosef wondering in the field and asked him as to what he is looking for. Yosef replied that he is looking for his brothers “Please tell me where they are grazing the flock.” The man replied: They traveled from here as I heard them say “Let us go to Doson.” Yosef went searching for his brothers, and found them in Doson.
  1. The plot to kill Yosef:
    • The brothers saw Yosef from a distance, and prior to his arrival, plotted to kill him. They told each other “Look, the dreamer is coming. Let us kill him and throw him in one of the pits. We will tell [our father] that a wild animal ate him.” We will then see what will be with his dreams.
    • Reuvein’s plan to save the lad: Reuvein heard of the plot and disguised a plan to save Yosef, and return him to their father. He told them “Let us not smite his soul and murder him. Instead, place him in the pit that is in the desert, and we will not raise a hand on him.”



  1. Yosef is placed in the pit and then sold and brought to Egypt:
    • When Yosef arrived to his brothers, they removed his garments, as well as the Kesones Hapassim, and they took him and threw him in the pit. The pit did not have water, it was empty.
    • The sale to the Yishmaeilim: The brothers sat to eat, and they saw a caravan of Yishmaeilim coming from Gilad. The camels were carrying cloves and other good spices, and they were traveling towards Egypt. Yehuda told his brothers “What gain do we have from killing our brother and covering his blood? Lets sell him to the Yishmaeilim, and let our hands not harm him, as he is our brother, part of our flesh.” The brothers consented.
    • The sale to the Midianites: A caravan of Midianites passed and they took Yosef out from the pit and sold him to the Yishmaeilim for 20 silver coins. Yosef was brought to Egypt.
    • Reuvein returns to the pit: Reuvein returned to the pit and saw that it was empty. He tore his clothing and exclaimed to his brothers “The child is not there, and how can I face [my father Yaakov].”
  1. Yaakov is told of Yosef’s death:
    • The brothers took Yosef’s garment and dipped it in the blood of a goat. The garment was then sent to their father Yaakov, asking him to identify the garment of his son. Yaakov recognized the garment and said that a wild animal must have eaten him. Yosef has been devoured. Yaakov tore his clothing and placed on sackcloth. He mourned for his son many days.
    • Comforting Yaakov: All his sons and daughters tried to comfort him, but Yaakov refused to be comforted. He said “I will descend to my grave while still mourning my son.” Yaakov cried over this a lot.
  1. Yosef is sold to Potifar:
  • The Midianites sold Yosef to the Egyptians, to Potifar the head butcher of Pharaoh.



  1. Yehuda moves away, gets married and has children:
    • At that time, Yehuda descended from amongst his brothers, and arrived to an Adulami man, whose name was Chira.
    • The marriage: Yehuda saw there the daughter of a Canaanite man called Shua. He took the daughter and married her.
    • The children: She became pregnant and had a son, who was named Er. She again conceived and had a son who was named Onan. She again conceived and had a son who was named Shailah. She was in Keziv when she had him.
  1. The marriage of Yehuda’s sons to Tamar, and their eventual death:
    • Er marries Tamar and dies: Yehuda took a wife for Er, his firstborn, and her name was Tamar. Er performed evil in the eyes of Hashem, and Hashem therefore put him to death.
    • Onan marries Tamar and dies: Yehuda told Onan to be intimate with the wife of his brother, and perform Yibum to her, and establish offspring for his brother. Onan knew that the child would not be considered his. Therefore, each time he was intimate with his brother’s wife, he would destroy [his seed by spilling it] onto the earth, in order not to give offspring to his brother. What he did was evil in the eyes of Hashem, and He put also him to death.
    • Tamar returns home: Yehuda told Tamar, his daughter in-law, to stay in the home of her father until Shailah is old enough [to marry her]. Yehuda said this because he feared for the life of Shailah. Tamar did as she was told.
  1. Yehuda is intimate with Tamar:
    • After the passing of many days, the wife of Yehuda, the daughter of Shua, passed away. Yehuda was comforted, and traveled with his friend Chirah to graze the flock in Timna.
    • Tamar dresses like a harlot: Tamar was informed that her father in-law is traveling to Timna to graze the sheep. She removed her widow garments and covered herself with a veil. She sat at the crossroads leading to Timna, being that she saw that Shailah had already grown up and she was still not given to him as a wife. Yehuda saw her and mistook her for a harlot, being that her face was covered.
    • The negotiations and agreements: Yehuda came towards her and asked if he could be intimate with her, as he did not know that she was his daughter in-law. She asked him “What will you give me,” and he replied that he will send her a young goat from amongst his sheep. She replied that she will only accept his offer if he gives her something as collateral until he brings her the goat. He asked what collateral she wanted, and she asked to be given his signet ring, jacket, and staff. He gave it to her and was intimate with her and she became pregnant from him.
    • Tamar returned home, removed her veil, and put back on her widow garments
    • Yehuda tries to find the harlot: Yehuda sent the young goat with his friend to bring to the harlot and receive his collateral back, although she could not be found. They asked the townspeople as to the whereabouts of the harlot who sat by the crossroads and they replied that they know nothing of a harlot in that location. The friend told Yehuda that she could not be found and Yehuda replied that she should keep what she was given, as they tried to find her and if they continue searching, the matter will become publicized and humiliate them.


  1. A pregnant Tamar is almost burnt at the stake:
    • Three months later Yehuda is informed that his daughter in-law Tamar is pregnant due to a promiscuous relationship. Yehuda ordered that she be burned to death.
    • Yehuda confesses and saves her from death: As she was being brought to be burnt she sent her father in-law the items which he gave her, and told him “I am pregnant from the man whom these items belong to, please recognize them.” Yehuda recognized the items and responded that she be vindicated of any wrong doing being that he refused to give her to Shailah as a wife, and she is pregnant from him.
    • Yehuda discontinued being intimate with her.
  1. Tamar gives birth to twins:
  • Tamar gave birth to twins.
  • When she gave birth, one of the children stuck out his hand. The midwife took it and tied a red string onto it, as a sign that he came out first.
  • After he returned his hand, his brother came out. The [midwife] exclaimed “Why have you burst forth” and he was named Peretz.
  • Afterwards, his brother, which had the red string on his hand, was born and he was named Zarach.



  1. Yosef in Mitzrayim;
    • Potifar, the head butcher of Pharaoh, had purchased Yosef from the Yishmaeilim who brought him there.
    • Hashem blesses the home of Potifar: Hashem was with Yosef, and Yosef was successful while at the home of his master the Egyptian. His master noticed his success and that G-d is with him. As a result, Yosef found favor in his eyes, and was placed in charge of everything in the home. After Yosef was appointed in charge of the estate, and all of his assets, Hashem blessed the house of the Egyptian due to Yosef, and blessing was found in everything in the home and field. Yosef was placed in charge of everything, aside for the bread which he eats. Yosef had a beautiful figure and appearance.



  1. Potifar’s wife attempts to lie with Yosef:
  • After the above events, the wife of Potifar placed her eyes on Yosef and asked him to lay with her. He refused, stating that his master has trusted him with everything in the home, and has given him everything except for her. How then can he do such a great evil and sin towards G-d. She tried daily to convince Yosef to be with her, although he refused.
  • One day, Yosef came home and there was no one home. The wife grabbed Yosef by his coat, commanding him to lie with her. Yosef slipped out of his coat, leaving it with her, and fled outside. When she saw that Yosef left his coat with her, she screamed for help of her household, saying that the Jewish boy attempted to lie with her. “When I screamed, he left his coat with me and ran away.” She remained with the coat until his master returned home. She told him that Yosef attempted to lie with her, and when she screamed he ran away, and left his coat.
  1. Yosef is imprisoned:
  • Yosef’s master imprisoned him. Hashem was with Yosef in the prison and he found favor in the eyes of the warden.
  • The warden appointed Yosef in charge of all the other prisoners, and he would direct their activities. The warden trusted him as G-d was with him.


  1. The Sar Hamashkim and Sar Haofim:
    • The imprisonment: After the above events, the head butler and baker sinned to their master, the king of Egypt. An angry Pharaoh had them imprisoned, in the same prison that Yosef was located.
    • The head butcher placed Yosef in charge of attending to them. They remained in prison for many days.
    • The dreams: One evening, the two ministers, the butler and baker, had a dream. Each person dreamt the interpretation of the dream. In the morning, Yosef saw that the two men were very perplexed. He asked them as to what is the matter. They told him of their dreams. Yosef said that the interpretations of dreams belongs to G-d, “Please tell me your dreams.”
    • The dream of the Sar Hamashkim: The butler told Yosef his dream. He said that he dreamt of seeing a vine in front of him, and the vine contained three clusters of freshly ripe grapes. I saw myself squeezing the grapes into the cup of Pharaoh and placing the cup into the hand of Pharaoh. Yosef replied that the interpretations of the dream is as follows: The three clusters represent three days, as in three days Pharaoh will reinstate you to your position as the chief butler, and you will once again serve him wine as you did in the past.
    • Yosef then asked the butler to mention him before Pharaoh, to have him removed from the prison, as he has done nothing wrong.
    • The dream of the baker: The baker saw that the interpretation was good, and he too told Yosef of his dream. He told Yosef that he dreamt of seeing three baskets on his head. In the top basket there was all the baked goods eaten by Pharaoh, and the birds were eating from it. Yosef replied that the three baskets represent three days, as in another three days Pharaoh will have you hung and the birds will eat your flesh.
    • Pharaoh’s birthday party: So it was that on the third day it was the birthday of Pharaoh and he made a great feast for all his servants. He remembers the misters, the butler and baker. The butler was reinstated to his position and he placed the cup in Pharaohs hand, while the baker was hung, as Yosef interpreted.
    • The butler forgot to mention Yosef before Pharaoh.

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