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Derash Moshe: Miketz: Joseph’s Hidden Messages

The 13th of Kislev is the Yahrtzeit of Rabbi Moshe, Darshan of Krakow, author of Derash Moshe. He died on November 17, 1736. Everyone questions why Joseph did not inform Jacob that he was still alive. (See Ramban Genesis 42:9) Surely, the leader of Egypt could have sent messengers or letters to his father, informing him that his son was alive and well.

Some say that Joseph actually did send messengers to Jacob, but the brothers his Jacob and sent the messengers away, informing them that Jacob had died from his suffering over Joseph. Thus we find that Joseph repeatedly asks the brothers if their father is well and still alive.

When the opportunity came for Joseph to inform his father that he rules over Egypt, meaning that the Egyptians did not rule over him and corrupt him, that he was still the same righteous person as 22 years earlier, he was concerned that the brothers would not share the good news with their father, Jacob. He knew that they did not want to be humiliated before Jacob for having sold Joseph as a slave.

Joseph was even concerned that the brothers would inform the Egyptians that he was secretly practicing his Judaism. He therefore determined to send encoded messages to his father, who being so similar to his son, would quickly decipher the messages.

Joseph was also concerned for his brothers that they not be embarrassed in front of the Egyptians for how they had treated their brother. He therefore encouraged them to act as spies, reminding them that they had accused him of spying on them for Jacob. They had accused him of inappropriate relations, and he used the phrase, “Ervat Ha’aretz,” the nakedness of the land. He imprisoned Shimon who had, with Levi, encouraged the sale.

The hints worked. The brothers began to suspect that this was Joseph. They first said that, “God is avenging his blood,” meaning that Joseph had died. Yet , they soon say, “Whom we sold into slavery,” indicating their suspicion that Joseph lived and was the great and powerful man before whom they stood.

Joseph sent wine to his father, and the Talmud teaches that, “When wine enters, out come secrets,” there is an association between wine and secrets. The wine Joseph sent was a hidden message to Jacob to keep all his suspicions and questions about Joseph’s journey as secrets, never to be openly discussed.

Darash Moshe: Page 58a

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