Miketz: Joseph the righteous

What was so righteous about Joseph?

Danny Ginsbourg

Judaism Torah reading
Torah reading

Yosef, in our tradition, is called Yosef הצדיק: Joseph the righteous. Perhaps this is the reason for the steps that Yosef- who appeared to his brothers, as an Egyptian nobleman, second only to Pharoah- took to compel the presence of Binyamin before him, in Egypt.

Why was this so ‘critical’, to Yosef הצדיק? Because he saw himself obligated to bring about the fulfillment of the charge he received from Hashem, in his dreams.

Expounds the Shem miShmuel: He did so to fulfil his first dream: in which the sheaves of all of his brothers- which included Binyamin- ‘bowed down’ to his sheaf, accepting his rule over them.

But having achieved this, why did Yosef הצדיק then contrive to have Binyamin exposed as a thief, by concealing his goblet in his sack?

Answers Sforno: ‘To test if his brothers would, this time, offer themselves in his place, to save their young brother from slavery’.

Explains Rav Yehuda Kuperman:
‘Yosef הצדיק did so to give his brothers the opportunity to do תשובה for their sin against him:having sold him, a son of Rachel, into slavery, they could now redeem themselves, by saving her other son from being enslaved, by offering themselves in his place.

Concludes Rav Kuperman: ‘By so doing,  they would atone for their earlier sin, and would prove that they were indeed baalei teshuva; and, critically, that the שנאה:the hatred between the brothers, had now ceased.

And, as we learn in the next parsha, they ‘passed’ this test, Yehuda offering himself to be a slave, in place of Binyamin.

And only then did Yosef, having ‘enabled’ them to do תשובה,  ‘reveal’ himself as their brother, their brotherly love having been restored.