Oroh V'Simchoh

Meshech Chochmoh
on the Weekly Parsha

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by Zvi Akiva Fleisher

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OROH V'SIMCHOH - MESHECH CHOCHMOH ON PARSHAS VA'YEISHEV - BS"D

Ch. 39, v. 20: "M'kome asher asi'rei ha'melech asurim" The Ramban says that the Torah makes note of the jail in which Yoseif was incarcerated as being that of the people the king would have incarcerated, to show the Divine providence that Yosief would be joined by the king's personal wine butler and baker, something that would not have taken place had Yosief been jailed im the "common man's" jail. Alternately, he offers that the Torah is teaching us that Yoseif's former master Potifar was so appreciative of his devoted service all the years that he had Yoseif placed in a more comfortable prison.

The MESHECH CHOCHMOH answers that Potifar actually knew that Yoseif was innocent, and would have readily sided with him. However, he would then have suffered great shame from the resultant guilt of his wife. He therefore decided to go along with her, but not have Yoseif killed as he was aware of his innocence. Potifar decided to place Yoseif into jail, but this presented a new problem. Once in jail, Yoseif would speak with other incarcerated people and tell them of his innocence, which Potifar knew would be quite convincing. Therefore, rather than place Yoseif into a common jail, where many jailbirds slept in a ward, he sent him off to the federal penitentiary, "m'kome asher asi'rei ha'melech asurim," where the "bessereh menshen" go, which had private single occupancy suites, so that when they retired Yoseif would have no one to tell of his innocence, and by day they were all guarded and under control.

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