Parashat Vayeshev: Yosef's Capacity to Bring Blessing

[Tal Chermon]

After the pair of Torah portions Vayetze and Vayishlach, which dealt with our forefather Yaakov, come two portions which discuss his sons. Among the twelve of them, Yosef stands out as an imposing personality. His special abilities are reflected in the blessings given to him by both Yaakov and Moshe, which surpass his brothers' blessings both in content and length. These blessings are sweeping and all encompassing: "[Yours will be] the blessing of heaven above and the blessings of the water lying beneath…[The blessing will be] until the endless bounds of the world's hills… It [the blessing] will come upon the head of Yosef, on the brow of the elect of his brothers" (Devarim 33:16). "The blessings of your father surpassed the blessing of my parents." Yaakov gave Yosef a blessing greater than he himself had received (See Ha-Amek Devar on Bereshit 49:26). Yosef was also split up into two tribes: Efraim and Menasheh. He was one of the sons, but was treated like one of the forefathers in that each of his two sons was a separate tribe. He thus possessed the qualities of both a forefather and a son. This is reflected in Onkelos' translation of the Hebrew word "even" when it is used to described Yosef. While this word usually means "stone" Onkelos sees it as a combination of two words "av – father" and "ben – son" (Onkelos on Bereshit 49:24). Yosef was both. Yaakov was aware of Yosef's numerous and diverse talents, so he made him a coat of many colored strips. He was thus distinguished from his brothers, who only had coats of a single color, indicating a specific talent for each one. Yosef, however, was all-encompassing, and was himself aware of his numerous talents. This was made clear in his dreams, which revealed his deepest thoughts. He dreamt: "And my sheaf stood erect, and your sheaves circled my sheaf and bowed down to it" (Bereshit 37:7) and in a second dream: "And behold the sun and the moon and eleven stars bowed down to me" (ibid. 37:9)." These dreams were expressions of economic leadership and success. The dreams were not vain or incidental, but were true, and in fact materialized when Yosef was promoted to a top position of economic leadership.