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Thought for the Day: Ask More Why the Torah Says Than What the Torah Says

Until yesterday, I had always taken it for granted that the Shivtei Kah knew that there we snakes and scorpions at the bottom of the pit into which they threw Yosef.  After all, Chazal say clearly that "ein bo mayim" means "water - no; snakes and scorpions - you betcha" (free translation).  After hearing my mobile chavursa's thoughts on the matter, however, I had to reconsider.  In fact, when I looked around I found a few obscure sources that also said that the Shivtei Kah didn't know that there were snakes and scorpions in the bottom of the pit.  What sources?  Ramban, Ohr Chayim, Malbim.  (How can I call those obscure, you are wondering? 
  • "obscure" <=> "I haven't seen it, even out of negligence"
  • "famous" <=> "I've heard of it, even without seeing it inside"
I am glad we cleared that up.)

On the other hand, the Ohr Chayim gives p'shat in what was achieved by throwing Yosef into a pit filled with snakes and scorpions.  However, the Ohr Chayim does not give his p'shat on the pasuk of "ha'bor reik, ein bo mayim".  Instead he chooses to give his p'shat what Reuvein's intention was in making the suggestion in the first place.  I have been noticing recently that the "dibur hamaschil" (the words used to introduce a comment" is not because they didn't have asterisks, but actually conveys information.  ("Duh!", you say.  "I'm slow", I admit.)

Given all that, I'd like to rephrase my question.  Instead of asking what the Shivtei Kah had in mind or even what Reuvein had in mind, the appropriate question is: "What does HaShem want me to understand by revealing to me that there were snakes and scorpions in that pit?"  (By the way, we could also ask what the Torah wants us to understand about Yosef haTzadik, since he certainly knew there were snakes and scorpions in that pit!)  The whole event must have taken some time and surely much was said, but the Torah gives us only a few brief p'sukim.  The Torah is not a history book; instead it describes certain events to us in a very precise fashion to convey to us all there is to know about reality.  Pretty cool, no?

The Ohr Chayim's p'shat, you ask?  Im Yirtze HaShem, tomorrow.  Although, to be honest, it was supposed to be yesterday...


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