By: Rabbi Avrohom Adler
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It is written [Breishis 37:32]: And they sent the coat of many colors, and they brought it to their father; and said: “This have we found. Know now whether it is your son’s coat or not.”
The question is asked: Why did the brothers feel the necessity to destroy specifically his fine woolen coat; this was a very special garment and valuable? Why didn’t they rip one of Yosef’s other garments and send it to their father?
The simple answer would be that Yaakov would not recognize Yosef’s other garments; it was the special garment that he gave to Yosef that he would indeed recognize.
Rabbi Aharon Kroll offers another answer based on our Gemora. The Mishna had stated: One may only testify to the identity of a dead man on the basis of the face with the nose, even though there are identifying marks on his body and on his garments. The Gemora explains that we cannot rely on the identifying marks of his garments because we are concerned that the clothes may be borrowed.
Accordingly, one may ask: How could Yaakov be certain that Yosef was killed based on the blood found on Yosef’s clothing; perhaps someone had borrowed Yosef’s garments?
The Be’er Heitev (E”H, 17, 71) cites from the Ra’anach that if it is customary for only one person in the community to wear a certain garment, we do not take “borrowing” into consideration.
The Keli Yakar explains that the k’sones passim that Yaakov gave to Yosef represented the firstborn right that Yaakov took away from Reuven and granted to Yosef. The service in the Beis HaMikdosh required that the Kohen would wear special clothing, and Yosef was given this garment as a sign of honor and glory. This coat was obviously worn only by Yosef, and he would never lend it out.
This explains why the brothers sent to their father Yaakov the fine woolen coat of many colors, and not any other of Yosef’s garments. Yaakov would recognize that this was Yosef’s coat, and only he would be wearing it. This was a clear indicator that Yosef was indeed devoured.