“We have betrayed.” “A new king arose over Egypt, who did not know of Joseph (Exodus 1:8).” “He made himself as if he did not know of Joseph’s contributions to Egypt (Rashi).” My father zt’l often spoke of the fact that the first thing the Torah wants us to know about Pharaoh was that he had no sense of gratitude; he was a Bogeid, a denier of how he benefited from others! Pharaoh was cruel tyrant, a murderer, and a denier of God, and yet, the Torah wants us to know that at the root of all his evil was the fact that he was a person who betrayed Joseph! My father added, “One who denies how he has benefited from others will eventually deny God from Whom he has benefited most!”
It’s also interesting that the man who betrays Joseph eventually betrays his entire nation, allowing them to be destroyed as a result of his stubbornness!
We do not find Pharaoh attempting to rectify this sin, but, when we consider the story of the Ten Plagues, we find that God is directing the king to rectify this one point: The slavery ended as soon as the plagues began, and yet, Pharaoh refuses God’s demand that he, “Let My people go!” Pharaoh is certainly struggling with God, wondering why such a great Power needed his permission to allow the Jews to leave, but how did he rationalize his decision to allow his country to be devastated? He, at one point, agrees to allow the men to leave for a three day celebration with their God, but insists that they return, holding the women and children hostage. He wants Israel to remain in Egypt even if they are no longer slaves. He needs them for his country. Pharaoh is forced by God to acknowledge Israel’s contribution to Egypt. God directs events so that Pharaoh will repair his denial of Joseph.
“Bagadnu: I acknowledge that I have not consistently acknowledged how I have benefited from others, my parents, teachers, friends and strangers. I commit to actively repair this sin by reviewing how I have benefited from the important people in my life and contacting them to acknowledge how I have benefited from them.”
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