Dvar Torah Parshat VaYeshev 5772 2011

Yaakov sends Yosef to Shechem to see how his brothers are faring. The brothers were to be there pasturing their flock. The distance between Chevron, where Yaakov was, and Shechem is over 80 kilometers (close to 50 miles). Why did they have to go so far? Couldn’t they find a place closer to home for their flocks to pasture?

There is a difference between the commentaries about the area of Shechem. Some see it as a dangerous area for Yaakov’s family. This is where Yaakov’s children killed the entire people of Shechem. The surrounding nations would want to take revenge at the first opportunity. That was why Yaakov sent Yosef there to see if his brothers were safe.

Other commentaries regard this location as an area where the inhabitants fear Yaakov’s folks. They saw what two sons could do. How much more can all the brothers pull off together? Hence the brothers went there to demonstrate their ownership of the land, since Yaakov had bought it and they had no fear of the inhabitants. In ancient times grazing cattle on land was an indication of ownership.

When Yosef went to Shechem he did not find his brothers. They had moved on to Datan which was not their property. They grazed in foreign pastures. When Yosef came they sold him and he ended up in Egypt. Their punishment was that they eventually also ended up in Egypt and had to graze in a foreign land in Goshen.

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