"And Yosef brought an evil report against his brothers to their father." (37:2). Our Sages refer to Yosef as "HaTzadik" (The Righteous). Yosef was on such a high spiritual level that anything less than perfection simply disturbed him. Even his righteous brothers could not escape his scrutiny. Yosef reported his brothers' failures because he felt that his father was the only one capable of correcting their minor "mistakes." Obviously the "epitome of righteousness" was not a simple tattle-tale. Providence organized Yosef's "trip" to the morally corrupt Egypt as a lesson to Yosef that his brothers were very righteous. We see, as did Yosef, from his lesson that even the most well-intentioned constructive criticism can be very dangerous and that we must consider carefully every word we speak.
Upon the same subject of Yosef being the informer against his brothers to their father, Rav Yehonatan Eybeschitz (18th century Germany) noted that it is possible that the brothers wished to test Yosef to see if he was revealing their actions to Yaakov. They would make statements in his presence such as, “that meat that we just cut off the live animal was very tasty.” Yosef believed what he had heard and told their father about what they said so that he could rebuke them. Rav Eybeschitz reaches this conclusion because the verse writes that Yosef reported “their evil words” rather than “their evil deeds.” The fact is that the brothers deceived Yosef in order to test him to see whether he was just a nuisance in bringing false information to their father.
"Will you be a king over us? Shall you rule over us?" These prophetic words were fully fulfilled. Yosef was in all respects a real king over the house of Israel for 71 years, longer than any other ruler in Israel's history. Yosef ruled with more authority than any subsequent ruler, and with even more authority than Moshe or David. Pharaoh gave to Yosef the power that "without you no man may lift up his hand or his foot in all the land of Egypt" (41:44). No one dared to quarrel or even to complain, which was certainly not the case in the period under Moshe's control. In Yosef's time the Israelites "were exceedingly fruitful and they multiplied" (47:27), and the nation came into being during his long period as a virtual king and an absolute ruler over them. This was Hashem's plan that the righteous Yosef should wield absolute power for the longest reign in history, in order to prepare the newly developing nation for the great climax of the Receiving of the Torah at Sinai. Yosef was extremely resourceful and capable in everything, as his career demonstrated.
As we welcome the festival of Chanukah this week, I wish all of you a meaningful and joyous celebration of our celebration of lights. We have a community lighting of the Chanukiya on Thursday at 6:00 PM. I hope you can join in for this Mitzvah. Please let me know any family traditions you may have developed over the years relating to Chanukah observance. Maybe you’ve devised a unique way to share the holiday with friends and family in this unusual year.