Parashat Miketz: Wisdom and Vigor

[Tal Chermon p. 92]

Pharaoh publicly installed Yosef as ruler of Egypt: "He had him [Yosef] ride in his second royal chariot and they proclaimed before him 'Avrech'" (Bereshit 41:43). What is the meaning of this title? The Targum Onkelos interprets it as "father (i.e. counselor to the king)." Yosef is the spiritual father, the source of the Divine ideals and culture of the king. He is above the king. Once the king is affiliated with and guided by holy principles, he can then set about organizing and arranging the practical aspects of existence virtuously and properly. Rabbi Yehudah explained the word as a combination of two words "Av" meaning that he is a "father" of wisdom despite being only "Rach" – "tender" and "young" in age. Older people generally have the advantage of wisdom and experience, but they lack the dynamic energy of youth. With the youth, the situation is reversed. There is a popular saying: "If only the elderly 'could' and the young 'understood.'" The ideal situation is when these two forces, wisdom and capability, are present in one person. Yosef was a "young-elder": as wise as an older person and full of youthful vigor.