21 Jun 2006

Joseph; known in Jewish Tradition as “Yosef HaTzaddik,” Joseph the Righteous, for his ability to control his passion when the Egyptian wife of Potifar, Joseph’s initial master when he arrived as a slave in Egypt, attempted to seduce him (“Bereshit”/Genesis 39:12)

Earlier, as a brilliant youth of seventeen, a dreamer, and gifted by G-d with the ability to interpret dreams, he had aroused fierce anger in his brothers against him. He was clearly the favorite of his father, Yaakov (“Bereshit” 37:3). Next, he dreamed dreams of mastery, which pictured himself as the master of his brothers. (Ibid 37:7 and 37:10)

When his father made the fateful “error” of sending him to check on the welfare of his brothers who were grazing the family flocks (Ibid. 37:13), they took violent action against him, throwing him into a pit (Ibid. 37:24), and selling him into slavery (Ibid. 37:28). (This sin of wanton hatred haunted the Jewish People for thousands of years until atoned for finally by the deaths of the Ten Martyrs, at the hands of the Romans, at the time of the Destruction of the Second Temple)

“Yosef” rose to greatness in Egypt through his ability to interpret the Pharaoh’s dreams of the Seven Cows and the Seven Ears of Corn (Ibid. 41:26), as seven years of “plenty” followed by seven years of famine.
Yoseph, elevated by the Pharaoh to the position of viceroy, took actions by which he made Egypt the storehouse of the Middle east during the Years of Famine, and a magnet, as well, for the sons of Yaakov, his brothers. (Ibid. 42:6)

When the sons of Yaakov came before Yosef to get food, he recreated, to an extent, the earlier situation, with his brother, Binyamin, playing his role. When “push came to shove,” Yehudah, rose to the occasion, and to greatness, when he offered himself as a substitute for Binyamin, thereby demonstrating his full “Teshuvah,” Repentance. (Ibid. 44: 32-34)
Afterwards, he brought his father’s family down to Egypt, beginning the Egyptian Exile, which would be ended 210 years later, or some 430 years later, when we begin the count from the time of the establishment of a Covenant by Hashem with Avraham, by the miraculous Exodus of the Jewish People from the Land of Egypt.