April 12, 2024
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Zera Shimshon on Parshas Mikeitz

וַיְהִי מִקֵּץ שְׁנָתַיִם יָמִים וּפַרְעֹה חֹלֵם וְהִנֵּה עֹמֵד עַל־הַיְאֹר׃ (בראשית מא:א)

“And it was at the end of two years, and Pharaoh dreamed and he was standing on the river.”

The Yalkut Shimoni (remez 147) asks a question on this pasuk, “And Pharaoh dreamed… and why were two years added? In order that Pharaoh would dream and (Yosef) would be made great through this dream.”

The fact that the midrash says that Hashem added two years to Yosef’s imprisonment in order that Pharaoh would dream implies that this dream had to be on this date, independent of Yosef’s being freed.

The Zera Shimshon asks: What was so significant with this date that the dream had to be then and only then?

He answers in light of the Gemara in Megillah that when Yaakov ran away from Eisav, he left his father’s house for 22 years and, obviously, did not perform the mitzvah of kibud av va’em during that time. As a punishment for not performing that mitzvah for such a long time, Hashem punished him that he would be separated from Yosef for 22 years.

Therefore, even though the 10 years of imprisonment would have been enough to atone for Yosef’s aveira of speaking lashon hara about his 10 brothers — since Yaakov also deserved a punishment — two years were added to Yosef’s imprisonment in order that Yaakov would not meet up with Yosef for 22 years. If Hashem wouldn’t have added those two years, then the years of plenty would have started sooner, the years of famine would have started earlier, and Yaakov would have made contact with Yosef before the 22 years of his punishment ended.

Hashem, therefore, had Yosef stay imprisoned two extra years in order to interpret Pharaoh’s dream and be made great through that.

Why, though, was it so important that Yosef’s rise to importance and greatness had to be through a dream?

The Zera Shimshon explains that there were two reasons his brothers hated him. One reason was that he spoke lashon hara about them to Yaakov and the other one was because of his dreams, which showed that he would rule over his brothers. Therefore, after his imprisonment of 10 years, which was a punishment from Hashem for speaking lashon hara against his 10 brothers, Hashem elevated him in the eyes of the world through dreams — in order to show that he didn’t deserve to be punished for his dreams, because the dreams were truly messages from Hashem.

The Zera Shimshon asks another question: How can it be that Yosef stayed in jail for two extra years solely so his father, Yaakov, would receive the punishment he deserved? That isn’t fair! And more than this, it seems that there is a contradiction to this midrash! At the end of last week’s sedra, Rashi writes that two years were added to Yosef’s imprisonment, because he relied on the Saar HaMashkim to speak to Pharaoh to have him released from jail and didn’t rely solely on Hashem. So, how can we say here that the extra two years were in order to punish Yaakov?

The Zera Shimshon answers that these two reasons don’t contradict each other, but — on the contrary — they complement each other. Meaning, if Yaakov didn’t deserve to be punished for not fulfilling the mitzvah of kibud av va’em, then Hashem would have found a more lenient punishment for Yosef.

And if Yosef didn’t deserve to be punished, then Hashem would have caused some other way to delay Yaakov’s coming together with Yosef.

The Zera Shimshon adds that, in essence, both Yaakov’s and Yosef’s aveiros were the same! The reason that Yaakov didn’t go home to Yitzchak right after he left the house of Lavan was because every month for two years he sent presents to Eisav, so he would forgive him, as the Ramban explains. This was a lack of bitachon; Yaakov should have relied on Hashem that He would protect him from Eisav. Yosef’s two extra years (in prison) were also because he relied on the Saar HaMashkim, instead of relying on Hashem 100%.

It was only that they both deserved to be punished did Hashem keep Yosef in jail and delay Yaakov’s coming to Mitzrayim!

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