The Perashah begins: vayhi miketz sh'natayim yamim uphar-oh holem. “It happened at the end of two years to the day: Pharoah was dreaming." As this is occurring, Yoseph is completing his twelve-year jail sentence. According to the Rabbis, this number “12” represents a year each for speaking Lashon Haraagainst his ten brothers, (excluding Binyamin) and two more for not placing his faith in Hashem. While in jail, Yoseph interprets the dreams of the wine butler and the baker. The wine butler’s dream is interpreted as being positive, but the baker’s dream is interpreted as foretelling doom, and indeed, he is hanged shortly thereafter. Yoseph asks the wine butler as he is about to be released: "Remember me and don't forget me". Why does Yoseph repeat himself? Our Rabbis comment that the double Lashon showed insufficient Emunah on the part of Yoseph, because he was placing his hope on the wine butler rather than putting his faith in Hashem. Consequently he was punished for those two extra years. According to Or ha-Hayyim, Pharoah was having these recurring dreams for two years. Pharaoh was very bothered by these two dreams, and when none of his advisors were able to come up with a satisfying interpretation, the wine butler decided to speak up and inform Pharaoh of Yoseph’s gift of interpreting dreams. Yoseph is quickly brought out of jail, washed and groomed and brought before Pharoah to interpret his dreams. When Pharoah confronts Yoseph and says to him, "I heard that you can comprehend dreams and interpret them," Yoseph responds: "That is beyond me; it is Hashem who will respond with the correct interpretation." Pharoah accepts Yoseph's interpretation of his two dreams as meaning that Egypt will have seven good years, followed by seven disastrous years of famine and economic decline. Pharoah appoints Yoseph second in command and Viceroy over all of Egypt, in charge of the country’s grain and ultimately their entire economy. The question is asked, why did Pharoah put Yoseph in charge before he had proof that the prediction was correct? The answer is that Pharoah changed his dream and actually knew the interpretation but forgot it. So when Yoseph repeated back the correct version of Pharoah's dream, he realized that Yoseph truly had special G-dly powers which is the reason he was able to interpret Pharoah's dreams correctly. Another question that arises, is that later in Perashat Bo, when Moshe correctly predicted seven plagues in a row, Pharoah still fails to believe him. The answer is that in the case of the plagues, Pharoah did not want to free the slaves as he would be losing the free labor that augmented his wealth. In the case of Yoseph, Pharoah would actually benefit economically from the prediction. We also learn from this that Hashem can take any one of us from a very low point in our lives, as Yoseph was when he was in prison, to a very high position, such as running a big and profitable company. Hashem can make this happen K'heref Ayin! – in the blink of an eye!
Still the question that begs to be asked is that even though Yoseph demonstrated his very special abilities, which he attributed to Hashem, what made Pharoah hand over so much power to Yoseph and make him second in command over all of Egypt? The answer is found in Pasuk 38: "So Pharaoh said to his servants, Will we find [anyone] like this, a man in whom there is the spirit of G-d?"– ish asher ruach elokim bo!
This brings to mind a famous story that's been told about Rav Aharon Kotler towards the end of World War II. In the late stages of the War, word had reached Rav Aharon Kotler, in New York, that there were rabbis trapped in Italy and the Nazis were threatening to ship them off to Auschwitz. So Rav Kotler asked Mr. Irving Bunim, who was his right-hand man, to come up with a solution to save these rabbis. Mr Bunim could only think of one plan that might possibly save the rabbis from certain death: The idea was to set a meeting up with Joe Bonano, the head of the Mafia crime family in New York to help, though he admitted that it would be a long shot. Rav Kotler, not knowing what the Mafia was, agreed to meet with him. So he took Rav Kotler to meet Mr Joe Bonanno in the Roosevelt Hotel in Manhattan. After they had passed through all his guardsman to get to his suite on the top floor of the Hotel, Mr Bonanno welcomed the rabbi. After hearing the rabbi's desperate plight, Joe Bonanno agreed to help Rav Kotler but he just had one request. Seeing that Rav Kotler had "the spirit of G-d" in him, so he asked Rav Aharon to give him a blessing for a long life! Joe Bonanno recognized the greatness of Rav Kotler just as Pharoah saw it in Yoseph. Joe Bonano then made a few calls to his contacts in Italy and had the Rabbis placed out of harm’s way. Rav Aharon then gave him a beracha that he would live a long life and die of natural causes. Many years later, despite the fact that he was involved in a bad car accident, Joe Bonanno survived and died years later in his bed at an old age of natural causes, something very rare for someone like Joe Bonano, living his gangster type of lifestyle!
Later in the Perashah, Yaakov tells his sons to go down to Egypt to purchase food so they will not starve during the famine. Rashi explains that the famine had not reached Yaakov and his family yet and they still had food. But since most people were heading down to Egypt to buy food, Yaakov didn't want to draw attention to himself that they had food when others didn't. When there's a recession and people are out of work, we're not supposed to flaunt what we have, rather we should just thank Hashem and act humbly because all that we have is from Hashem! Also, when Yaakov tells his sons to go to Egypt to get food in pasuk 2, he uses the word "Redo" which means "go down" and the numerical value is 210, indicating that this will be the beginning of the 210 years that B'nei Yisrael will be in Egypt until Hashem saves them and brings them to Har Sanai to receive the Torah! When the brothers go down to Egypt, they enter through 10 gates to search for their long lost brother Yoseph in all the markets, thinking that he may have survived as a peasant. But Yoseph, now second in command to Pharoah recognized his brothers as they came to Egypt but he didn't identify himself to them. According to the Rabbis, he knew that his dreams had to be fulfilled in sequence and since his dreams had indicated eleven brothers bowing to him, he had to engineer Binyamin's return with them. Yoseph had to accuse them of being spies in order to set them up to bring back Binyamin. Yoseph also caused the brothers these troubles which drew them to finally admit, "This is why this anguish has come upon us". They realized that this was a punishment from Hashem for their cruelty to their brother Yoseph. So, if they hated Yoseph when he merely dreamed of being a king over them, how much more so would they hate him now that he truly had the power of life and death over them? Therefore he wanted to show them, that after the long chain of events, he truly loved them and had only their good interests at heart. This, he was sure, would melt their long-standing resentment. Yoseph's goal was always to bring his brothers back together and create unity between them because they would become the foundation of Am Yisrael. Until today we must know that Hashem loves us when we are united! There was a time in our history, when the Jewish people were undefeated. That time was when they were a very close and united Israel. More than anything Hashem loves us when we are one nation, just as a parent loves his children when they get along and are as one! So this is our test today, while we are living in Galut here in America. We must understand that although from the outside we seem different from one another, we are really one large family spread over many communities in many countries all over the world. We must pray to Hashem every day to look after us but its our job to look after our brothers and sisters. This brings us to the last days of our holiday of Hanukah. The goal of the Greeks was not to kill us, but rather to assimilate us into their culture. They made the oil in the Bet Hamikdash, tame' (impure), so that we could not use it for the Menorah. The oil represents separation because it rises in water, and thus the Greeks wanted to break that separation and have us assimilate with them. Instead we rose to the top like oil above water and overpowered them! We must always remember who we are and who our forefathers were and know that we are part of a chain that goes back over 3,000 years to our forefathers, Avraham, Yitzhak and Yaakov. May we all learn to trust in Hashem and know that whatever difficult situation we find ourselves in, Hashem can take us out of it K'heref Ayin, in the blink of an eye. Just as he saved Yoseph, who was plucked out of jail and in a matter of hours and made second in command to Pharoah over all of Egypt! Also, we describe Yoseph as Hatzadik, despite the fact that he was so powerful and wealthy. May we always keep in mind that Hashem is in charge, and that as successful as we may become in all areas of our lives, its all only because of the blessings of Hashem and not because of our talents. This was the reason that Yoseph was able to interpret Pharoah's dreams correctly, which ultimately changed the course of history! Shabbat Shalom! Jack E. Rahmey with the Guidance and Teachings of Rabbi Amram Sananes Leiluiy Nishmat.... Eliyahu Ben Rachel Avraham Ben Garaz Sarah Bat Chanah Malka Bat Garaz Shulamit Bat Helaina Yaakov Ben Rachel Batsheva Bat Sarah Esther Rabbi Shimon Chay Ben Yaasher Rav Haim Ben Rivka Meir Ben Latifa Yitzchak Ben Adele Esther Bat Sarah Chanah Bat Esther Rabbi Meyer Ben Chana Moshe Ben Garaz Rafael ben Miriam Moshe Ben Mazal