Following Yosef’s untoward episode with Potiphar’s wife (who as we know was besotted with Yosef’s good looks and set out to seduce him – in due course maliciously accusing him of having wanted to have his way with her), Osnat ended up testifying to Yosef’s innocence.
As Egyptian viceroy, Yosef’s immense appeal had young maidens clamoring for his attention. They literally climbed walls to catch a glimpse of him. Yosef became worthy of his good looks and all of this adulation when he had valiantly sought to protect his beautiful mother from Eisav.
Yosef additionally merited immunity to an ayin hara, said to hold no sway over all of his descendants — due to his having maintained his sense of modesty. He constantly averted his eyes from the girls who pursued him, neither acknowledging nor responding to the daughters of kings who would hurl their valuables at him. Osnat among them had on her person only one item of value — the engraved kimaya that she threw to Yosef. When Yosef saw the inscription attesting to her lineage, he took Osnat as a wife. She was thus divinely rewarded for her eyewitness testimony to the true unfolding of events in the house of Potiphar.
Fast-forward and who of Yaakov’s grandchildren should be held up as models for our children to emulate in the blessings conferred upon them to this very day? None other than Yosef’s children, Ephraim and Menashe. Kind of perplexing, considering their “stained” yichus. Their mother, after all, was the offspring of Shechem and she herself grew up in an Egyptian home, raised by Potiphar and his nefarious wife no less.
The Torah is apparently more impressed with one’s character than one’s yichus. Ephraim and Menashe happened to be the first set of brothers since the beginning of time to actually get along with one another. Even Yaakov’s motion to bless the younger before the elder stirred no feelings of envy or animosity in them; they remained ever loyal and connected to one another, each equally concerned for the other’s wellbeing. Neither haughtiness nor arrogance entered the picture, just a brotherly camaraderie and devotion — indeed a model of brotherhood.
Furthermore, whereas their cousins reaped the benefit of being raised in the Holy Land in a Jewish environment, Yosef’s children grew up in Mitzrayim with foreign influence all around them, and yet they adhered to their faith and managed to remain true to their heritage — as did their father in the face of severe provocation. This is our fervent wish for our children, grandchildren and succeeding generations: that they withstand the temptations they are ceaselessly bombarded with in golus.
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