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by Zvi Akiva Fleisher

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Ch. 41, v. 1: "UPharoh choleim" - And Paroh is dreaming - M.R. asks, "And don't all other creatures dream? What is unique here is that the dream of a king is a dream of the whole world."

What is the issue that is bothering the M.R.? Paroh dreamed and there is no indication of the exclusion of others. However, it is the syntax of the verse that brings on the question. In general when the verse tells us a happening it places the action forst and then the person, i.e. "Va'yaas Paroh, Va'y'tzav Paroh." Similarly here we should have had "Va'yachalome Paroh." The M.R. therefore answers that this set of dreams was unique in that it was Paroh's, hence he is mentioned ahead of the action.

With the insight of the M.R. a question that has bothered many a commentator can be answered. Why didn't the wine butler, upon hearing the dream, go to Yoseif on the sly and relate the dream as his own to Yoseif, hear his explanation, and then relate the divination to the king, and get all the credit? The answer is that by relating that it was his own dream he would receive a different explanation than would a king. (Ohel Yaakov - Dubner Magid)

I don't fully understand this insight as why couldn't he admit that it was the king's dream?

Ch. 41, v. 8: "Va'y'sa'peir Paroh lohem es chalomo" - And Paroh related to them his dream - Nevechadnetzar had a dream which Daniel divined to his satisfaction (Daniel 2). What was different there was that he even forgot his dream, only remembering that he had a dream. Why did Hashem orchestrate this difference?

The divination of Nevechadnetzar's dream was that something would take place in the future, but not right away, not like here, "Ki nochone hadovor" (41:32). Nevechadnetzar would not know right away that Daniel explained his dream properly as the result was far off.

Secondly, had Paroh also forgotten the dream he would have pursued someone with the supernatural power to tell him what his dream was, and this comes ahead of pursuing an explanation of his dream. The wine butler would not have had Yoseif come to mind as he only had an experience of divining and not telling that which was hidden from his petitioner, the basic dream. (Baalei Tosfos, Chizkuni, Tur)

Ch. 41, v. 33: "V'atoh yei're Pharoh ish novone v'chochom" - And now Paroh should look our for an understanding and wise man - Who asked Yoseif for "eitzos?" All he was asked to do was to divine the dream. The gemara Brochos 55 says that Hashem announces three things, hunger, sustenance in abundance, and a "parnas," a communal leader. Since two of these three matters were included in the dream, Yoseif surmised that there was a need for a "parnas." (Holy Ari z"l)

Alternatively, the word "atoh" was uttered by Paroh. Yoseif told him the explanation of the dreams and Paroh responded with "v'atoh," a question, "and NOW what shall be done." To this Yoseif responded that an understanding and wise man should be appointed. (Rabbi Ezra Attiah)

An insight that was offered in Sedrah Selections Mikeitz 5766 is repeated here.

<8 QUESTIONS in honour of the 8 days of Chanukah:

1) The word "yaa'seh" seems to be totally superfluous, as the verse could have simply said, "Yafkid Paroh p'kidim," as we find in Megilas Esther 2:3, "V'yafkeid ha'melech p'kidim."

2) In verse 40 we find Paroh telling Yoseif that although he was now being given a high position, nevertheless, Paroh himself would still be above him. Would any sane person think that by virtue of this appointment Paroh was abdicating his kingship?

3) Why was it necessary for Paroh to tell Yoseif that he, Paroh, was giving Yoseif his position (verse 41)? Isn't this obvious?

4) Why mention all the pomp and circumstance of the royal appointment through giving Yoseif a royal signet ring, placing royal garments upon him, placing a gold necklace upon his neck (verse 42), and giving him a royal limousine (verse 43)? Would we think that Yoseif would be the viceroy and be dressed in shmattes and when he needed transportation he would have to hitch a ride? Why not simply state only the information in verse 41, Paroh's telling Yoseif that he was now the viceroy?

5) Rashi on verse 42 says that the handing over of the king's signet ring was the specific ceremony that indicated that the recipient was second-in-command. Why mention this? Rashi does not do so by Achashveirosh's doing the same with Homon. What important information would we be lacking if we only thought of this as a gesture of respect, or simply a handing over of some authority?

6) In verse 43, as explained by Rashi, we see that Paroh supplied Yoseif with a royal chariot which was specifically a "mirke'ves hamishneh," second to the king's, like a Bentley next to a Rolls Royce Silver Cloud, and that Paroh had it travel right next to his. Why mention this at all?

7) Again in verse 43, we find that Yoseif was called "avreich." Rashi brings the opinion of Rabbi Yehudoh in Medrash Agodoh that this is a composite word, "av" and "rach." "Av" means an elder (in wisdom), while "rach" means tender (young). If Yoseif's appointment was to be taken seriously by the wide public, shouldn't only his virtue of being wise be stressed? Why add that he is a youngster, an element that would limit his acceptance in people's eyes?

8) Verse 45 tells us that Paroh gave Yoseif a new name and a wife. Why did Paroh do this?


It is quite possible that Yoseif, with the use of this one phrase, "yaa'seh Pharoh," appealed to Paroh in a most ingenious manner, displaying absolute genius in dealing with Paroh's emotional needs and offering politically sound advice at the same time. Yoseif tells Paroh that a devastating famine is coming in 7 years, so decimating that it would wipe out all vestiges of 7 years of abundance, and as mentioned earlier, in much less than 7 years. Whoever would save the day would become the national hero and Paroh would be relegated to obscurity.

This was Yoseif's intention with the words "yaa'seh Pharoh." Make sure that whomever you appoint will not be a threat to your maintaining the country's leadership. Make sure that the attribution is to you. Yoseif wanted to allude to Paroh to place him in this position but could not do so overtly. After all, there was a law etched in stone that anyone with a jail record could not become a minister. Asking Paroh to break the law was very inadvisable. However, Paroh himself could break the law (read that as AMEND the law). It was also extremely advantageous to give the position to a foreigner, and a Jew to boot, not a very coveted title among the Egyptians, "v'shom itoni naar IVRI" (41:12), upon which Rashi comments that the wine-butler was very critical of Yoseif by calling him an IVRI. This was the perfect bait, appointing a Jew, a jailbird, a NAAR, a young person. Appointing Yoseif would be the optimum situation for Paroh. Yoseif would be a very capable administrator who would most likely not become the nation's idol and hero.

Paroh now had to walk a tightrope, giving Yoseif credence and esteem so that people would listen to his edicts, and at the same time not having him run away with the leadership. This is why Paroh stated unequivocally, "rak haki'sei egdal mi'meko" (verse 40). Make sure you realize that I will always be above you. In the same vein in verse 41 Paroh reiterates, "R'ei nosaTI os'cho al kol eretz Mitzroyim." Be cognizant of MY appointing you.

This also explains why the Torah mentions in much detail the coronation, and all the royal items given to Yoseif (verse 42). Paroh did all this to show all his people and in particular his ministers, that Yoseif was now second in command, and not just another appointee. Rashi stresses this as well, saying that handing over the signet ring is the ceremony for installing a SECOND-IN-COMMAND.

In verse 43 we see exactly the same strategy. Yoseif is given a chariot that is one notch below Paroh's and rides next to him, rather than with him in the same chariot, even though this was the coronation parade. He is called "avreich." Although an elder in wisdom, this must again be tempered with knowing that he is not the top man, hence "rach," tender in years. Lastly, by giving Yoseif a new name and by GIVING him a wife, "va'yi'ten," and Yoseif's not TAKING a wife, Paroh was again publicly wielding his power over Yoseif, one more tactic in "keeping him in his place."

Indeed, Yoseif was very cooperative and it was abundantly clear to all that Paroh was the top man on the totem pole. When the people suffered from the famine they came to Paroh and not to Yoseif (41:55), and only then did Paroh sent them to Yoseif. When the people became more and more impoverished and had to sell their belongings, including their land, and finally themselves, it was all sold to Paroh. Yoseif was a loyal trustworthy viceroy, making sure that Paroh was recognized as the leader of the nation (see 47:14,19,20,22,23,24,25, and 26).

The relationship between Yoseif and Paroh was cordial because Paroh was not intimidated by Yoseif and the power that he held, as his perception was that Yoseif was second in command. This held true even during the years when this was greatly challenged, during the famine. It seems that the reality of the situation, at least during the famine, was that Yoseif was truly the leader. There is one place where Yoseif tells his brothers of his high position and describes it as even being above Paroh's. In Breishis 45:8 Yoseif tells his brothers that it was not they who brought him to being in Egypt, but rather, it was Hashem. "Va'y'si'meini l'ov l'Pharoh ul'odone l'chol beiso umosheil b'chol ho'oretz." The simple translation of "ov" is father. Yoseif was like a guiding father to Paroh, master over his household, and lord over all the land. No doubt this was only for their ears and not for Paroh's. Yoseif likely pointed out that he was in the highest position in the land to assuage his brothers' feelings of guilt. However, he would not lie. We thus see that he was truly the leader of Egypt, even above Paroh, at least during the famine. (Nirreh li)>>

I hope you enjoy this insight as much as my students did.



See also Oroh V'Simchoh - Meshech Chochmoh on the Weekly Parsha, Chasidic Insights and Chamisha Mi Yodei'a

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