Zot Haberakhah

Pisqa’ 353

Pisqa’ 3531


“And of Joseph he said: His land is blessed by HASHEM” (Dt.33:13)—

this teaches that

Joseph’s land was blessed beyond other lands.

“By the bounty of the Heavens, the dew,” (Dt.33:13)—

so that dew is available any time.

“By the abyss that lurks (rovetzet) beneath” (Dt.33:13)—

this teaches that

it supplies (marbetzet) the springs.

“By the bounty of the sun’s yield” (Dt.33:14)—

this teaches that

Joseph’s land absorbed the sunlight.

Now, there are no lovelier or sweeter

fruits in the world,

than those which see the sun.

And just as they absorb sunlight,

so, too, do they absorb moonlight,

as it is said:

“And by the bounty of produce of the moon” (Dt.33:14).


“And from the tops of the primeval mountains” (Dt.33:15)—

this teaches that

Joseph’s mountains are older than

the mountains of the Abode of Holiness,

and the mountains of the Abode of Holiness are older yet than

the mountains of the Land of Israel.

“And by the bounty of the eternal hills” (Dt.33:15)—

this teaches that

the Patriarchs and Matriarchs are called

mountains and hills,

as it is said:

“I’ll run off to the Mount of Myrrh,2

to the Hill of Frankinscence”3 (Song4:6)

“And by the bounty of the Land and its fullness” (Dt.33:16)—

this teaches that

Joseph’s land was full, lacking no blessing.

R. Shimon b. Yohai says:

A person docking his ship

in Joseph’s portion will require

nothing else at all!


“And the favor of He Who dwells in the bush” (Dt.33:16)—

for Joseph performed the will of

the One Who disclosed Himself to Moses in the bush (see Ex.3:2-4).

“Let blessings rest on Joseph’s head” (ro’sh; Dt.33:16)—

he was first (ro’sh) to arrive in Egypt,

and he will be the first (ro’sh) to return [to Jerusalem]

in the coming future.


“On the forehead of the exalted (nazir) among his brothers” (Dt.33:16)—

to the one whose brothers cast him away,

treating him like one unshorn (nazir).4

“The First-born bull has splendor” (hadar; Dt.33:17)—

this teaches that

Moses was given majesty (hod) and Joshua splendor ( hadar).

For if majesty had also been given to Joshua,

the world could not have sustained itself.


“His horns are like the horns of the wild ox” (Dt.33:17)—

an ox is mighty in strength,

but his horns are not beautiful;

yet the wild ox’s horns are beautiful,

even though he is not mighty in strength.

So Joshua was given

the strength of an ox and the horns of a wild ox.

“With them will peoples be gored” (Dt.33:18)—

now, did Joshua conquer all the peoples?

Didn’t he only conquer thirty one kings?5

This teaches that he conquered

kings and dominions from

one end of the world to the other!


“Together, even to the ends of the Earth!” (Dt.33:17)—

Now, did Joshua conquer all the lands?

Didn’t he only conquer a small part of them?

But, all the kings he subdued

ruled kingdoms and dominions.

R. Judah says:

Were the thirty one enslaved kings all

from the Land of Israel?

As is common nowadays in Rome,

every king and ruler who has not

purchased a palace or a villa in Rome thinks:

I have achieved nothing!

So, too, any king and ruler who has not

purchased a palace or a villa in the Land thinks:

I have achieved nothing! 6


“And they are the ten thousands of Ephraim” (Dt.33:17)—

since the wealth of the Canaanites is unknown to us,

what does the Teaching tell us?

“And Adoni-bezeq said:

Seventy kings, with thumbs and toes dismembered,

used to glean crumbs beneath my table!” (Jud.1:7)

Now isn’t this a matter of logic?

Just as Adoni-bezeq,

who was unworthy to be counted among the kings of Canaan,7

had seventy kings gleaning crumbs under his table—

surely you can figure out and estimate

the [vaster] wealth of the Canaanites!


“And they are the thousands of Menasseh” (Dt.33:17)—

since it is unclear [from Scripture] how many Canaanites Joshua killed,

the Teaching states:

“Now Zevakh and Tzalmunah were in Karkor, and their camp was with them

—some 15,000—

all that were left of all the camps of the Kedemites.

And the fallen were 120,000” (Jud.8:10).

Indeed,[the total of both camps] is 135,000,

in order to fulfill what was said:

“And they are the ten thousands of Ephraim,

and they are the thousands of Menasseh” (Dt.33:17)

  1. H:368-370; 435-438.
  2. By way of a pun on Mt. Moriah, the hill of Myrrh refers to Abraham and Isaac.
  3. A reference to Isaac, who is comparable to the incense offered up on the altar (Song Rabbah 4:6).
  4. The exegesis depends upon the variable connotations of nazir: “prince,” “consecrated,” “long-haired.”
  5. Listed at Josh.12:9-24.
  6. Cf. Pisqa’ 37.8.
  7. Jud.1:4 distinguishes Canaanites from Perizzites, assigning Adoni-bezeq to the latter.