Sunday, August 24, 2008

Three Hundred Silver Pieces

Get the Daf Yomi Summary here

The Gemora in Megillah (16b) expounds the following verse [Breishis: 45:22]: He [Yosef] gave them all changes of clothes, and to Binyamin he gave three hundred [pieces of] silver and five changes of clothes. The Gemora asks: Is it possible that Yosef would stumble on the precise action that caused him to suffer? Yaakov had given Yosef a nice woolen garment which caused the brothers to become jealous and prompted them to sell him to Mitzrayim. Should Yosef now favor Binyamin over the other brothers? Rabbi Binyamin bar Yefes answers: Yosef was hinting that a descendant of his will go in front of a king dressed in five royal garments (referring to Mordechai).

The commentators ask: Why didn’t it bother the Gemora that Yosef gave to Binyamin three hundred pieces of silver, and none to the other brothers? Wouldn’t that have caused jealousy as well?

The Chasam Sofer answers based upon our Gemora, which states: Rabbi Yehoshua ben Levi said: One who sells his slave to an idolater; we penalize him and force him to buy him back for up to ten times the value of the slave.

An ordinary slave is worth thirty silver coins, as we know from the halachah in the Torah that if an ox gores and kills a slave, the owner must pay the master thirty silver coins.

Accordingly, the brothers who sold Yosef should have been obligated to pay the penalty of ten times Yosef’s value in order to redeem him. Since they did not redeem him, they therefore owed to Yosef three hundred silver coins (30 ∙ 10 = 300). This is why Yosef did not give them the three hundred silver coins that he gave to Binyamin. Binyamin, who was not involved in the selling at all, rightfully deserved this amount, and therefore, Yosef was not concerned that this would be a cause for jealousy.