“And Joseph went out over the land of Egypt” (41:45). This was one of the greatest tests he underwent in his career. Wearing the king’s ring (41:42), clothed in royal linen with a golden chain around his neck (ibid.), riding in the second royal chariot with runners before him (41:43), having full power over the land (41:44), having an Egyptian name and an Egyptian wife the daughter of a priest, he had every reason to disown his family which had so wronged him, and he could have without any effort become a full Egyptian in heart and soul.
Hashem here is planning a twofold achievement: Joseph was made the all-powerful ruler over Egypt for the benefit of the future nation of Israel that would develop under his exceptional guidance, and therefore Hashem granted Joseph very great authority. But parallel to this purpose was another very important purpose: to develop the greatness of Joseph himself.
Great individuals are also extremely important to Hashem, just as are multitudes of righteous people. Therefore Joseph was tested by opportunities to become arrogant; but he became even more perfect than ever, because he continued to fear Hashem always and to bear humility in his heart. Additional tests of perfection were afforded to him by means of his great power, because he utilized his authority to deal kindly with the people of the land, and all that he did was for justice and mercy to all men.
Elsewhere in the Chumash we also find examples of the principle that the lives of individual righteous men are especially important in the eyes of Hashem; and in order to produce such individuals and to encourage them, Hashem takes extraordinary action similar to that which is done for an entire nation or for all nations.
“And he said, G-d should favor you, my son” (43:29). Why should a blessing be said in the presence of the recipient? Would the blessing not be just as effective if it were said when he was not present? It seems the blessing is more sincere when said without the knowledge of the recipient. Yet we see that Yitzchak blessed his sons to their face (27:27, 27:39), Jacob blessed Menasheh and Efraim to their face (“Take them to me and I shall bless them” – 48:9), and he blessed his sons in their presence (“Gather together…” – 49:1-2).
One purpose of the face-to-face blessing is to encourage the recipient with the love of the one bestowing the blessing and with the knowledge that he was blessed by him. Another purpose is that the personal encounter enhances the love of the bestower for the recipient; and a more heartfelt blessing results, which G-d hears more readily. Further: “He who bestows a gift to someone should let him know – [Shabbos 10b] – to cause him to love the giver” (Rashi, ibid.). By hearing the blessing personally, the recipient comes to love the bestower.
And Yehudah said: what shall we say, and what shall we justify ourselves; G-d has found the sin of your servants (44:16).
Judah is speaking to the Master of the World with these words to Joseph. Hitherto the brothers had spoken much to themselves and to each other to justify their behavior to their younger brother. This process of self-justification had continued for 22 years, during which time the brothers had covered their original feelings and thoughts with heavy layers of sound logic and righteous motivation, so that any wrong that may have been committed should be buried too deeply for Hashem to see.
It is the nature of men to attempt to conceal their true motives from G-d: “And the man and his wife concealed themselves from before Hashem.” Now Judah is saying the Viddui confession: “G-d has found the sin” which had been so long and so deeply concealed. This means: Now G-d has caused us to find.
This was said by Judah. Judah now comes to the fore as the spokesman and the leader, as he had previously begun.
Compiled for The Jewish Press by the Rabbi Avigdor Miller Simchas Hachaim Foundation, a project of Yeshiva Gedolah Bais Yisroel, which Rabbi Miller, zt”l, founded and authorized to disseminate his work. Subscribe to the Foundation’s free e-mail
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