Quotation from beginning of Vayeshev. Q: Is there an obvious pshat problem (even if we know the meaning of all the words)? A: The following is example of narrow scope vs. wide scope: The pshat problem is does the phrase that yosef reported the bad doings of his brothers- does that refer to all his brothers or does it refer to only the children of Bilha. “ הָיָה רֹעֶה אֶת-אֶחָיו בַּצֹּאן, וְהוּא נַעַר אֶת-בְּנֵי בִלְהָה וְאֶת-בְּנֵי זִלְפָּה, נְשֵׁי אָבִיו; וַיָּבֵא יוֹסֵף אֶת-דִּבָּתָם רָעָה, אֶל-אֲבִיהֶם.” Fine, so there is an ambiguity here. To add another complication, one could say that its referring to the wide scope, namely “brothers,” but its possible that the reference is to a sub-group within the brothers. Another question here is, “What exactly was going on? What was reported?”
If we look at Bereishit Rabbah, there are three views among the Tannaim: 1) That his brothers ate ever min hachai
2) They were acting inappropriately with the non-Jewish women 3) They were mistreating the children of the maidservants If we read the medrash straight, it seems that there are three tannaim and each had one opinion. If we continue in the medrash, we have Rebbi Simone who said that Yosef was punished for all three reports. What we see here is that Reebi Simone is synthesizing the three approaches. Now, Rebbe Simone is an Amora- this shows the phenomenon that as time goes on, there is a tendency to try to synthesize opinions. There is another point from this statement of Rebbi Simone. He is making a judgment about whether Yosef was in the right. Coming back to the question of who Yosef was complaining about, complaint #3 listed in the Medrash would seem to only work with the children of Leah. Now, one could say that, once Rebbi Simone synthesizes the three, then all three apply to only the children of Leah. Rashi said this. At this point we need to ask whether Medrash is pshat or affects pshat. Its possible that Medrash responds to a pshat problem in a pshat way even if its not actually in the pshat. Let’s see if there is something in the pasuk which the Medrash built from: 1) Why did the pasuk emphasize that he spent time with the children of Bilha and Zilpa? Perhaps its because that’s significant in the conclusion of the pasuk where it speaks about the evil reports. 2) The Pasuk uses the term “Na’ar” and this implies a certain degree of immaturity and perhaps we can link that to inappropriate behavior (i.e. with the women of the land). Now, this seems difficult; however, meforshim said it so its legit. 3) On the reference of the sheep, we can say that this can be extended to saying ever min hachai.
Also, we can say that Rebbi Simone looked at the negative things which happened to Yosef later on (e.g. The wife of Potiphar), and then go back and extrapolate what Yosef complained about. This assumes the concept of Midah K’neged Midah.
Rashi quoted this Medrash. Now, Rashi learns pshat, so if Rashi quoted...