"Will you be a king over us? Shall you rule over us?" These words of Yosef’s brothers in response to his relating to them his grandiose visions were ultimately and 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 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 event of the Receiving of the Torah at Sinai. Yosef was extremely resourceful and capable in everything, as his career demonstrated. When he related his dreams, his brothers saw his firm faith in these dreams, and they greatly feared the consequences of an ambitious and capable younger brother who would attempt to make the dreams come true.
The last scene in the Parsha is an interesting one with Yosef in prison along with two officers of Pharaoh’s court. To give an analogy, according to Rabbi Isaachar Frand, this would be like having a small-time drug dealer in jail along with two members of the President’s Cabinet. We are dealing with “cabinet-level” positions in the Egyptian government. The person who brought Pharaoh his wine was a trusted individual; he was the wine taster, a person in whom the king had implicit trust. We are dealing here with people who could be compared to the Attorney General and the Secretary of State. They are sitting in jail with a Hebrew slave, the lowest rung of society, someone who is serving time for a petty crime. We can be sure that there was not a lot of camaraderie and social action between Yosef and Pharaoh’s officials. However, when they had dreams which upset them, Yosef saw that they were depressed and asked them: Why are you depressed? You don’t look so good this morning.” Because of those words, what happens? The dreams are related to Yosef. Yosef interprets the dreams and everyone sees that Yosef has special powers. The entire chain of events that brings about Yosef’s ultimate release is all because Yosef went over and offered assistance, asking how they are. A lesson for us all.
Shabbat Shalom שבת שלום.
Rabbi David Grossman