Vayigash – Sh’vi’i

Pharaoh Invents the 501(c)(3)

By Rabbi Jack Abramowitz

Yoseif got his family quarters in the best district, as per Pharaoh’s instructions.

Food was scarce because of the famine. All the people in Egypt and Canaan purchased food from Yoseif until they ran out of money, which ended up in Pharaoh’s coffers. When the people came to Yoseif for food, they paid with livestock, their real estate and, ultimately, they indentured themselves as servants to Pharaoh. As a result of this, Yoseif acquired virtually all the land in Egypt for Pharaoh. (The sole exception was the priests of the Egyptian “gods,” whom Pharaoh supported without taking their land. This was the first recorded tax exemption for religious non-profits.)

Yoseif relocated all the people who had sold their lands. He provided them with food and seed, with the proviso that, as servants to Pharaoh, a fifth of whatever they grew would belong to the king. The people were truly grateful; since the alternative was starvation, this was actually a pretty sweet deal.

Meanwhile, Yaakov’s family settled in the Goshen region, where they were very prosperous and their numbers grew quickly.

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