Jewish Personalities

12 Facts about Joseph in Honor of His Yohrzeit

1. Joseph was the first son of Matriarch Rachel and Jacob’s 11th child.

2. Joseph merited that the name Righteous was added to his title since he withstood the test and didn’t sin with Potiphar’s wife. He is likened to an ox for having the great strength to overcome the evil inclination.

3. Fear of G-d: Joseph was a G-d fearing person. When his brothers came to Egypt and thought he was the king of Egypt he told them “I fear G-d”. The Ramban (Nachmanides) talks about Josephs standing up against sin with Potiphar’s wife: “The verse tells us that he refused to listen to her though she was his superior and he feared her because he feared G-d more”.

4. G-d’s name was always on his lips: The verse says and G-d was with Joseph and he was a successful man and all that he did G-d made successful.” Rashi comments that “the name of heaven was always on his lips”. The Midrash says “he would silently pray when going in (to do a task) and silently pray when going out (completing it). He would pray “may the boiled water be hot” and it was, “may it be lukewarm” and it was.” This means with every task he did Joseph prayed to G-d for success and lived with G-d always.
When he interpreted the dreams of Pharaoh’s ministers he told them: “Interpretations are to G-d (to give us) and he told Pharaoh before interpreting his dream: “G-d will answer for Pharaoh’s welfare”. Joseph told his brothers that sold him: “And now don’t be sad for G-d sent me here before you to provide sustenance… to give you survival in the land and be a great refuge for you.” Before dying Joseph told his brothers: “G-d will remember you (to take you out) and take my bones with you.”

5. Joseph understood all is for the best: Though his brothers caused him hardship fist wanting to kill him, then throwing him in the pit and then selling him he bore no grudge against them. He told them: “You wanted to cause bad but G-d wanted it for good to do like today give life to a multitude of people.”

6. Honoring Parents to the highest degree: When Jacob sent joseph to check out the welfare of his brothers he honored his father’s wishes though knowing that his brothers hated him.

7. He guarded his tongue: Joseph never told his father that his brothers sold him. After decades they didn’t see each other Joseph never spent time alone with his father in Egypt so that his father could never ask him “so how did you get down to Egypt after all?”

8. Joseph honored the children of Bilha and Zilpa the maidservants and gave them clothing so they wouldn’t be embarrassed. When the brothers descended to Egypt Joseph relocated all the Egyptians form one end of Egypt to the other so that is brothers who were just guests without a permanent inheritance wouldn’t feel bad. When he told them that he is Joseph he asked all his attendants to leave the room though he risked his life in doing so they could have killed him, since they didn’t yet know who he was. But Joseph risked his life anyways so his brothers wouldn’t be embarrassed before the palace staff.

9. Humility: The Midrash in Shemot Rabbah says that “eventhough Joseph merited royalty he wasn’t haughty over his brothers and his father’s household. As he was small in his own eyes as a slave in Egypt he remained small in his own eyes as king”.

10. Modesty: He sanctified G-d’s name in private by not sinning with Potiphar’s wife and also attempted to conceal his mother Rachel from Esau’s eyes and through this merited to be “above the (evil) eye”. And though the Egyptian young women sat on the walls to see him he didn’t look back at them.

11. Divine spirit (clairvoyance): Joseph merited having the divine spirit (of clairvoyance) rest upon him from his youth until he died. G-d was with him in good times and bad. The Midrash says: “G-d was with Joseph- Rabbi Yudan says in Rabbi Ayvo’s name: “I only know about the good times (as Joseph was successful in Potiphar’s house). How do we know G-d was with him in bad times too? The verse answers the jail officer saw no wrong in Joseph as G-d was with him.”

12. About the descendants of Joseph it is said: Evil eye has no control over them as the verse says: “A charming son is Joseph, a son charming to the eye; women strode along the wall to see him.” A spiritual remedy against evil eye is to say: “I am from the descendants of Joseph that the evil eye has no control over.”


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