(my understanding & summary of R’ Moshe Sokol’s sermon)
So, Yosef, you think you’re all that. But maybe you’re not.
Yosef, once empowered by Pharaoh, displays complete autonomy in reforming and transforming
But in his personal life, he completely defers to Pharaoh. He marries at Pharaoh’s behest, to Pharaoh’s priest’s daughter. He asks permission for his family to move in. He asks his family to treat with Pharaoh directly, rather than through him. He asks for permission to go to
We can say that he wanted to maintain personal probity, avoid conflict of interest, but the commentators look deeper. The Ramban suggests that perhaps Yosef could have sent food out to his family, rather than forcing them to pick up and move to
The Meshech Chochmah, on the other hand, published in the 1920s, theorizes that Yosef was worried about the charge that he was putting his homeland, Canaan, his father’s house, above the needs of Egypt. So he made sure to join his father’s destiny to that of the rest of the country. This is the age-old charge of dual loyalty, first seen at the end of the Exile in
We see this today – we live in the most beneficial host country in the world, perhaps ever. We have two men in the Cabinet who are yeshiva educated, one a self-proclaimed Orthodox Jew, and a powerful Senator who also calls himself a traditional Jew, who ran for President and Vice President. Still, we hear charges that the “Jewish Neocons” got us into the war in
Yosef’s story warns us, as the Meshech Chochmah warns us, no matter where we are in history, we must behave with probity in political and government affairs, because there will always be those who suspect us. Perhaps the only solution, is to come to the Rabbi’s Shiur after Kiddush, where we’re studying the Rambam’s Laws of Moshiach.