Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Va'Yehi: knowing your place

Parshat Va'Yehi

In 50:4-5 we find Yosef asking Pharoah for permission to go and bury his dead father.

1. It says Yosef spoke to the house of Pharoah and requested they pass on his request to Pharoah.
Wasn't Yosef the "Second to the King"? Why did he have to go through Pharoah's secretary for this? why could he not just go right to Pharoah and ask for himself? Yosef just spent about 14 years running Egypt and saving it from collapse in the famine, you would think he had Pharoah's ear and could ask him what he wanted when he wanted...

2. Why did Yosef need Pharoah's permission to go bury his father? Yosef just saved Egypt from collapse. He is second to the king. He is responsible for making the most important decisions in Egypt over the past 14 years or so. And Yosef needs to ask permission to go bury his dead father?

My only suggestion is that despite Yosef's importance, when something becomes personal previous relationships do not matter. Pharoah was concerned to let Yosef leave Egypt. He was concerned about letting Yaakov be buried outside of Egypt. These possibilities held a threat, Pharoah perceived at least, to Egypt. So it did not matter how important Yosef was. With Pharoah perceiving a threat, Yosef's importance was insignificant to him. He made sure to let Yosef know that in this regard he could not move without Pharoah's permission.

It is an important lesson about knowing your place and not thinking you have a free pass based on previous actions.

Anybody have something better?

1 comment:

mc r said...

nice blog...

were you really in Reb Tzvi's?

Around which year(s)?