What is the first thing you would say about Pharaoh? Would you mention that he was a killer? Or, would you start with the fact that he enslaved an entire nation?
The verse introduces Pharaoh by saying, “He did not know Joseph.” How can anyone do this do the family of the person who saved the nation? Well, he didn’t “know” who Joseph was. How could he not know? Was he totally ignorant of Egyptian history? Rashi explains that “he made himself as if he did not know about Joseph.” He could not do what he did if he thought about Joseph’s contribution, so he made himself forget.
My father, of blessed memory, would point out that the very first thing the verse informs us about this evil, wicked man, is that he had no Hakarat Hatov, he refused to acknowledge how he had benefited from another. Everything else that we know about this wicked man developed from the fact that he could simply deny how he had benefited from another.
How interesting it is that we begin our day by saying, “Modeh Ani” “I am an thanker.” Everything else will develop from there.
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