Thursday, December 02, 2010

The Hint in their Names

R' Hirsch comments that Joseph's choice of name for his two sons (Mikeitz 41:51-52) is proof of his loyalty to his origins and determination not to be a part of Egyptian culture. How so?

Joseph named his first son Manasseh because "God has made me forget" (כי נשני אלוקים). Akeidah comments that Joseph was expressing his gratefulness that God had allowed him to forget the hardships inflicted upon him due to his brothers' actions. He had made peace with the 'master plan,' which allowed him to forget any ill will he may have felt towards his brothers, and eventually open up Goshen to his them (protecting them from any Egyptian influence) once his dreams were fulfilled.

His second son is called Ephraim, for "God has made me fruitful in the land of my suffering," (כי הפרני אלוקים בארץ עניי). Despite his dramatic ascent to being the 2nd most powerful man in Egypt, he still regarded Egypt as the land of his suffering. As Abarbanel notes, despite the greatness and splendor Joseph enjoyed as viceroy, he still saw himself as a stranger in Egypt and was 'suffering' as he was away from his father, his family & the Holy Land.

Despite the many obstacles Joseph faced that could have led him to turn his back on his family and home, he managed to make peace with his lot, forgive his brothers and stay loyal to the 'world' he belonged to.

(Ideas taken from The Stone Edition Chumash)

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