motzei Shabbos: parashas Vayeishev 5782
“The L-RD was with Joseph, and showed kindness unto him, and gave him favor in the sight of the keeper of the prison.” – Genesis 39:21, JPS 1917 Tanach
Joseph was wrongly accused of an indiscretion, that he did not, nor could have committed, not only because of his values; rather, also, because were he to disgrace himself (G-d forbid), he would no longer be worthy to carry on the heritage of his father Jacob, as an exemplar of the Jewish people. Yet, his potential legacy, at the time of his near undoing, was sustained by a vision of his father, at the very moment when he almost gave in to temptation. For this show of resistance, he was wrongly accused by his master’s wife, who had attempted to seduce him.
Having been sent to prison, for upholding the integrity he had acquired, as the son of Jacob, he was favored by H’Shem, who made everything that he did prosper (Genesis 39:23). Thus, he flourished, even in prison, serving as the warden’s right-hand man, taking charge of the prison ward on behalf of the warden. “Joseph was sold as a servant; his feet ached 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” (Psalms 105:17-19, JPS). Inasmuch as H’Shem tested him, this served as a refinement of his character, otherwise comparable to a tikkun hanefesh (literally, repair of the soul).
Eventually, an event occurred that served as the means to begin his release from prison; two of Pharaoh’s courtiers, who had each offended him, were deposed; thus, they were both placed in prison. One day, Joseph saw that they looked particularly downcast: so, he inquired after their apparent dejectedness. They explained that each of them had dreamt a dream; however, neither of them could interpret their own dreams.
Consequently, Joseph interpreted their dreams, revealing that one of them would be restored to his position, yet, the other courtier would be executed for his offense. Joseph’s interpretation proved to be accurate; and, the wine bearer was restored to his former position. Joseph had asked him to put in a good word for him (see Genesis 40:14-15); yet, it wasn’t until two years later, that the wine bearer conveniently remembered.