Realizing Our Expectations

By Rabbi Nussbaum
December 18, 2020
TEVES 3, 5780
Candlelighting Time 4:19 PM

When Yosef encountered his brothers in Egypt he recognized them, but they did not recognize him because he had left without a beard and now appeared with one. However, he concealed his identity from them and the Torah says that he recalled the dreams that he had describing that they would bow down to him. Lo and behold, that’s exactly what took place!

Rashi explains that Yosef now realized the confirmation of his dreams with this event. Nachmonides takes exception to this because if indeed Yosef now had corroboration of his dream, then why didn’t he inform his father that he was alive and well instead of continuing this charade and prolonging his father’s anguish not knowing what had happened to him?

However, to fully appreciate Rashi’s commentary we must understand that Yosef’s dreams bordered on the prophetic. And the first dream noted that all of Yaakov’s sons had to bow down and be submissive to Yosef’s sovereignty and Binyomin had not yet done that. Furthermore, in the second dream, Yaakov himself had to bow down to Yosef and therefore he felt obligated to facilitate the fulfillment of those dreams!  Netziv adds that since there was already somewhat of a realization of the first dream if Yosef would not have attempted to complete the first dream then he would have been considered as a prophet that conceals his prophecy which is, of course, prohibited. Additionally, Ohr Hachama points out that the others who came to Egypt in search of food did not bow down to Yosef even though he was a monarch second only to Pharaoh. Therefore, since the brothers did bow down, Yosef considered this a sign the indeed the prophetic dreams were becoming a reality.

The commentators pose the question that even though the brothers left Yosef when he was much younger and without a beard, such intelligent and astute people as Yaakov’s sons were certainly should have perceived that the person in front of them was Yosef! Ma’or V’Shemesh proposes that Yosef after he was sold by his brothers continuously reached higher and more elevated levels of spirituality. Potiphar noticed when he put Yosef in charge of his affairs that Hashem was ‘with’ him and whatever he did was successful. Yosef was continued to progress and evolve while the brothers stagnated. Perhaps they experienced this lethargic state due their lack of recognition of Yosef’s status which ultimately led to their misconception of his intent. However, in the final analysis, they did not recognize his spiritual advancement. On the other hand, he knew exactly who they were because they had not advanced further. Despite or perhaps due to the ordeals that Yosef was subjected to, he overcame those obstacles and attained dizzying heights in his service to Hashem. We often feel pity for those experiencing difficulties but perhaps we should envy them since they are able to not only withstand their complications but trounce them as well, they have achieved in life in a manner that others have not.

Binyomin was the only brother not present when Yosef was sold. Perhaps that placed him in a category distinct from his brothers. Although he was included in the first dream’s prophecy to bow down to Yosef, however, Yosef understood that the first dream had been sufficiently fulfilled when the other brothers now deferred to his dominance and pursued a total completion of that dream.                                                                                                  


Hashem says that He is sending Eliyahu to end our exile. The verse does not say that He will send him in the future but rather in the present tense. Eliyahu the prophet is ready to appear if we will only do our part in allowing him to come!                                                               CHOFETZ CHAIM