Along with being Shabbat Chanukah, this is also the Shabbat that we read Parsha Miketz. It talks about Pharaoh's dream that leads Yosef to interpret that there will be a famine. It also explains how Yosef was able to store food for the famine. This is very significant because, eventually, it led to his reunion with his brothers.
The text says, “וַיַּכֵּ֥ר יוֹסֵ֖ף אֶת־אֶחָ֑יו וְהֵ֖ם לֹ֥א הִכִּרֻֽהוּ” “and Yosef recognized his brothers, and they did not recognize him” (Perek מ״ב, Pasuk `ח). This is very peculiar. How is it possible that Yosef would recognize his brothers, but they were not familiar with him and, therefore, couldn’t recognize him?
Rashi gives a simple answer to the question previously proposed by explaining that the brothers were full-bearded when Yosef was sold so he remembered them that way. They were still full-bearded when they reached Egypt during the famine which is why it was easy for Yosef to recognize them. Rashi then goes on to expand on his reasoning by pointing out that Yosef did not have a f
ull beard when he was sold by the brothers but now he did. Therefore, after so many years, it would be difficult for them to recognize a man that looks very different from the brother they once knew.
Additionally, there is a midrashic explanation for the situation. This explanation refers back to when Yosef was sold. It tells us that now that Yosef was the one who had the power over his brothers, he was able to recognize them. However, the brothers did not remember him because they had power over him the last time they had seen him. This is a unique interpretation that demonstrates just how much a situation can change depending on the circumstances. At first, the brothers did not act like brothers towards Yosef and sold him because they had power over him. But, now they were coming to him for help in an extremely difficult situation. The tables had com
pletely turned and Yosef knew exactly who was standing in front of him, while the brothers did not. From this, we must learn that the conditions of a situation change everything drastically.
By: Riley Spitz (9th Grade)