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Torah Insights for the Younger Tzadikim
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Shmot 5761
Jan 14 - 20, 2001-by Reb Yosef

Things Change

Torah Insights for the Younger Tzadikim

At the end of Bereshit (Genesis), the Jewish people with Yaakov (Jacob), Yosef (Joseph) and his brothers and families were seen by the people of Mitzrayim (Egypt) as good people who helped them survive a terrible famine.  For those who know what we will see throughout Sefer Sh’mot (the Book of Exodus), things are about to change and the Jewish people will not be seen as a good thing for Mitzrayim.  So what happened?  Let’s look at what the Parashah says. 

1. And these are the names of the sons of Yisrael (Israel) which came to Mitzrayim (Egypt), every man and his household with Yaakov (Jacob). 

2. Reuven, Shimon, Levi, and Yehudah. 

3. Issachar, Zebulun, and Binyahim. 

4. Dan and Naphtali, Gad and Asher. 

5. And all the souls that descended from Yaakov were seventy souls, and Yosef (Joseph) was already in Egypt. 

6. And Yosef died and all his brethren and all that generation. 

7. And the children of Yisrael were fruitful by multiple births, they increased abundantly and were exceedingly strong; and the land was filled with them. 

8. Now a new King raised himself over Egypt which knew not Yosef. 

There is the answer in pasuk chet (verse 8).  Let’s look closely at the words – a new king raised himself over Egypt.  The Hebrew indicates to us that this “raised over” means that it was by force.  In other words, the new king was not from Mitzrayim and did not know the good things that Yosef had done for the people and the country.  Then it says, “which knew not Yosef,” meaning that this new king did not know of Yosef or what he had done.  There is one more point.  It does not say “a new Paro (Pharoah)” but rather a new king.  The rulers of Mitzrayim were known as Paro not “melech” (king).  So, from this, we can see that, because of this new king who didn’t know anything about Yosef and the Jewish people, things changed. 

Of course, there is more to this than the new king.  Behind everything, God had a plan for the Jewish people that would strengthen them and prepare them to have a very special, Torah relationship with Him.  This was the beginning of that strengthening.  It also says a great deal about our ancestors.  Hardship brings one of two things.  Either the people cannot stand up against the oppression and eventually assimilate and disappear, or they become stronger in resistance of the tyranny.  We all know what happened and that says a great deal about those people and about us.


Translations in Torah Portions of the week are partially taken from the ArtScroll Stone Edition Chumash and from Rav Samson Raphael Hirsch Chumash

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