“And Pharaoh said unto Joseph: ‘Forasmuch as G-d hath shown thee all this, there is none so discreet and wise as thou.’” – Genesis 41:39, JPS 1917 Tanach

It is written in Kabbalah, that for every descent, there is an ascent: apropos to this week’s parashas, we see Joseph, whose feet were placed in “fetters, His person was laid in iron; until the time that his word came to pass, the word of the L-RD tested him” (Psalm 105:19, JPS). Joseph’s descent began when his brothers threw him in a pit; they then sold him to a caravan of traders that was passing by Shechem. And, so Joseph was brought down to Egypt where he was sold as a servant to Potiphar. Under his service, he was accused wrongfully of indiscretion and sent to prison. Here, he did not languish; rather, he flourished. “And the Word of the L-rd was Joseph’s Helper, and extended mercy to him, and gave him favour in the eyes of the captain of the prison” (Targum on Genesis 39:21, sefaria.org).

Joseph flourished in prison; he gained notoriety as an interpreter of dreams, after correctly interpreting, b’ezrach H’Shem (with the L-RD’s help) the dreams of two prisoners who had been in stewardship in Pharaoh’s court. When the cupbearer, who was restored to his position in Pharaoh’s court, saw, two years later, how disconcerted Pharaoh was about his own dreams, he recommended Joseph to Pharaoh.

And Pharaoh said unto Joseph: ‘Forasmuch as G-d hath shown thee all this, there is none so discreet and wise as thou’” (Genesis 41:39, JPS 1917 Tanach). Pharaoh was so impressed with Joseph’s interpretation, that he elevated him to second in command of Egypt, thereby charging him to care for Egypt during the famine, by developing a means to store food during the seven years of plenty, to be subsequently distributed during the famine that would ensue, according to Pharaoh’s dream. Thus, Joseph’s ascent followed his descent; he exemplifies the qualities of endurance, patience, and hope that contributed to his character.

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