Clothes make the man?

In the episode of Eshes Potifar, Yosef left a piece of very incriminating evidence behind in the form of the garment that she retained in her grasp. He must have known that it could be used against him but still did not pause to wrench it free. Instead, he left it off and made a hasty and somewhat undignified exit sans whatever clothes were left with the mistress of the house.

Surely Yosef could have pulled his clothes free in just a couple of seconds, so why didn't he? The reason usually taught is that it's akin to leaving a house on fire:you don't stop for anything other than saving your life. If you'd run out without clothes for the sake of physical salvation,  then you should understand doing the same for spiritual salvation. That does make sense, particularly in light of the view that he only was able to overcome his yetzer by seeing his father (or mother, see  

However, this year, I thought of another possible motivation. A few weeks ago Rav Goldwicht mentioned that Yaakov told his family to leave behind the clothes that were tainted by avoda zara. He said that paralleled the commandment to remove the eshes yifath toar's  clothes that also  would have been worn for avoda zara rituals. Like cigarette smoke, the effect of what one does seeps into one's clothes-- in a spiritual sense -- which renders them unfit for use afterwards.

On this basis, I would posit that Yosef left his clothes behind, not just to get away as quickly as possible, but also because he didn't want them anymore. He had donned them while thinking about engaging in a sin, and so he considered them tainted by that temptation.

Also on the parsha:

Like and follow on Facebook


Popular Posts