patriarchs

This is a few contemplations, some highlights of Joseph’s initial years in Egypt, after being sold into slavery by his brothers. It represents some of what we learn about who Joseph is and the standards to which he was held in Parsha Miketz.

First of all, Joseph was called the Master of Dreams, and being a dreamer has everything to do with how truthful you are. We have a tradition that says the truer a person is, the way he sees things is not delusional, but is rather penetrating into reality.  The more real truthful and real a person is, the more their dreams are on the level of prophecy.  They reveal hidden reality, the unseen, which tells us who we are and what we are and what life is, not only in the future but right now as well.

Joseph was on that highest of highest levels, and therefore any encounter he has with a dream, whether interpreting the dreams of others or sharing his own dreams with his brothers and not getting a favorable response, is coming from a person of truth. Joseh’s Sephira of Yesod… one of the translations of that is truth.

He was a truthful person, and therefore he was able to be the channeler of dreams, which earned him the right to be the second in command of Egypt, the most powerful nation in the world at the time, and to feed the world as well. Joseph was able to penetrate the falseness of reality into the truth of reality. That’s where those dreams came from, and he was able to have them and to interpret them as well.

Although, we have to say that his dreams happened because he said, “It’s not me… I’m not the one interpreting the dreams, it’s G-d.”  So, because of his submissiveness and ability to work with dreams, Joseph was elevated to the highest level. He allowed the enacting, empowering and enabling to come about, not by his own power, but by G-d’s. That’s what placed Joseph on the highest level of dream interpretation and earned him the position of second-in-command in Eqypt and the one who saved the world from famine.

This is also because of who Joseph was and the Sephira he represented (Yesod). Joseph was the foundation of wellbeing and abundance in the world. He was the “feeder” of the entire world, including not only his own brothers but all the tribes of Israel. He fed them and he was also the unifier, regardless of the fallout between him and his brothers. Ultimately, he was able to bring them into a kind of unity because of who he is and the essence of what Yesod is.

Beyond that, he, like all of his brothers and all of our Patriarchs and Matriarchs, was G-d’s right-hand army to fix up the world… Tikkun Olam, bringing the world to its rectification of Adam and Eve’s sin in the Garden of Eden.

Joseph was especially important because he was the culmination. Yaakov understood that when Joseph was born in Laban’s house it would be time to face the world, to face Esav, because, as the Midrash says, “Jacob was the fire and Joseph was the flame,” and Esav is the straw that gets burned by the two of them together. Joseph is the culmination, and therefore he is able to go into the world and bring that holiness into the world, the whole purpose of creation into the world.

We also learn from Joseph’s life that he was held to the highest standards, like all our Patriarchs and Matriarchs. He was not meant to chase after his own wellbeing at all. So, when the ten years of his prison sentence came to an end and it was time for him to leave, Joseph should not have had to ask for favors from Pharoh’s ministers who were also in prison with him, the chef and the minister of drink. He asked them to put in a good word for him with Pharoh, and G-d did not look favorably on Joseph asking those guys for their help. Joseph should have trusted, as he did with the dreams, that everything is dependent upon G-d, and nobody else.

This is what we need to learn for ourselves as well: if we don’t need to make that extra effort, beyond what we really need, then don’t do it. Let G-d take care of what’s going on, and all the rest of it.

Ultimately, Joseph was the one who led the whole world at the time. People looked at him in awe, even though he hid his beauty, for the most part. Even his own brothers didn’t recognize him physically. He had a beard, and then he didn’t have a beard… They didn’t recognize him because he was the paradigm tsaddik, the paradigm righteous person. The way Joseph did it was to hide his righteousness from everybody, including his brothers. He talked to them about it, but he hid it from them as well.

When Joseph finally did reveal himself, his brothers were stunned. Not only did they see how all the pieces fit together, but they saw how a Yesod person was able to show how all the moving parts fit together. They were also able to see that all the things Joseph hid about himself became revealed, and then they were unable to speak. They were stunned.

So, these are just a few of the many areas of Joseph’s life that we should study and emulate as much as possible.