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The saga of Yossef and his brothers is remarkable. Yossef who was seen as a threat to his siblings and sold as a slave became his brothers’ salvation during the famine. All of the twists and turns recorded in the text would at least leave the brothers confused. Certainly the result that the brother sold as a slave, the individual who tested the brothers’ character should emerge as a ruler overseeing the day to day operations of Egypt not to mention control the region’s food store during a famine lay beyond the ken of the their consciousness.
Everything not only worked out but so amazingly well it defies comprehension. Rabbi Yisrael Meir Kagan, The Chofetz Chaim ZT’L ZY’A writes in Machane Yisrael (I:13) that part of loving G-D (Devarim 6:5) is with whatever one’s circumstances may be. The Rabbi applies the Rabbis’ meassure of wealth being happy with one’s lot (see Avoth 4:1). The Mishnah does not call on one to be happy with what G-D has blessed one with but with one’s situation. The emphasis is on the personal nature of an individual’s conditions. The Chofetz Chaim the implication being a person’s lot in life is so personally designed that it is appropriate to characterize it as the tools necessary for realizing one’s potential and success. Consequently Judaism generally asserts based on the totality of G-D’s Providential nature whatever one encounters in one’s life is not just for the best but for the very best. As dramatic as it sounds one’s suffering is for one’s benefit otherwise human suffering would be meaningless and indeed the question how could G-D allow . . .? would gain undeserved credibility.
Yossef declared to his brothers” So now it was not you who sent me here, but God; and he has made me a father to Pharaoh, and lord of all his house, and a ruler throughout all the land of Egypt.” (Bereshith 45:8) Ostensibly, what Yossef is saying sounds like what he is supposed to say to allay the brothers’ concerns and not a heartfelt declaration.
The Ohr HaChaim ZT;L ZY’A and Pardas HaMelech ZT’L ZY’A offer invaluable insight in to what Yossef was declaring before his brothers. Both authors see Yossef as baffled how the brothers could turn their sibling? Yossef recognized that the complete departure from logical and rational behavior he had experienced could not be seen as his brothers sinning against him. Rather the Pardas HaMelech sees what happened was solely an exercise of Providence for which no sin could be applied. Yossef is therefore assuring his brothers that what is happening lies beyond one’s limited perceptions and understanding.
However the Ohr HaChaim ZT’L ZY’A takes an approach that is quite fascinating. Yossef’s present declaration is a conclusion, the product of careful contemplation. Being sold in to slavery by one’s brothers seemed so counter-intuitive it was hard to believe while it was happening.. Only latter when all the pieces fall in to place did Yossef come to recognize what he was going through was orchestrated by the A-mighty to a degree that is superceded any of the brothers’ actions. Therefore there was no room in Yossef either mentally, psychologically, emotionally or intellectually to ascribe any blame to his brothers.
The Ohr Chaim ZT’L ZY’A asserts that initially Yossef was overwhelmed by all he experienced it was only latter upon reflection he was able to see how G-D is the singular source of all existence. Yossef came to see how G-D’s design overrides human machinations. On a personal level Yossef’s declaration absolves his brothers’ actions because Yossef no longer sees his brothers’ cruelty but his place in the scheme of things and the secret to success.