By: Herschel Karp (11th Grade)
In last week’s Parsha, we learn that Yosef’s brothers hated him because of Yakov’s affection for Yosef. This hate strengthened when Yosef told the brothers his two dreams, in which his brothers and father bowed to him, either as stars or sheaves of wheat. The Torah then mentions that Yakov was aware of everything that was happening between his sons, but chose to “keep the matter in mind.” Rashi explains that Yakov was actually anticipating the eventual fulfillment of Yosef’s dream, which plays out in this week’s Parsha, Miketz. Why would Yakov wait for the dream to come true if it resulted in so much animosity between his children and twenty-two years of mourning? What was so important about Yosef’s dream that Yakov wanted it fulfilled, no matter what it entailed?
Avraham, Yitzchak, Yakov, as well as Yosef’s brothers, were all shepherds. The lifestyle of a shepherd was very conducive to living a spiritual life since it consisted of seclusion from the outside world and connection to nature. It allowed for the complete focus on spiritual matters, far away from mundane societal affairs. They were able to completely devote their attention to Hashem and to Torah with no distractions. However, we see the opposite is true by Yosef. Yosef seemed to always climb the social and political hierarchy of whatever occupation he was in, and he was extremely successful in the outside world. As a slave to Potifar, he was appointed chief manager of his master’s affairs. Later in jail, he became one of the heads of the prison administration, and most notably, became one of the most powerful men in Egypt, second to only Pharaoh.
However, despite all this, Yosef did not change. He was still an extremely righteous person who remained connected to Hashem no matter what he did. The work he was doing did not affect him, and he was able to remain steadfast in his belief of Hashem and observance of Mitzvot. Yosef represented someone who has the ability to not be swayed or tempted by physicality, and instead, changes what was around him.
This was the real struggle between Yosef and his brothers. They argued that the best way to preserve your spirituality and connection to Hashem was through being a shepherd, cut off from the rest of the world where you cannot be influenced. However, Yosef was able to prove them wrong. He demonstrated that it was possible to be in the halls of government and in the heart of pagan Egypt and still remain one with Hashem. Yakov chose to let the prophecy play out because he knew that in order for the Jews to survive in the upcoming exile, they would have to not be swayed by the outside and stay true to Judaism like Yosef.