The Torah portion begins with Pharaoh’s dreams of cows and grain followed by Joseph’s interpretation and stellar rise to power. The rest of the parashah covers Joseph implementing his agricultural policies – to be followed by a little restructuring of the entire Egyptian social structure next week – and his dealings with his brothers when they show up looking for help with the famine.
We are also told how Joseph tried to forget his brothers and father; his attempts are embedded in the names of his sons. The first he calls Manasseh meaning, “God has made me forget all my hardship and all my father’s household.” The second he called Ephraim meaning, “God has made me fruitful in the land of my suffering.”
He does seem to retain a lot of grief, however. Joseph does a lot of crying during these chapters. When his brothers arrive, he bursts into tears. When he overhears their remorse at selling him, at Reuben’s revelation that he had tried to save Joseph, he weeps. When he sees Benjamin, he weeps again. Why?
When they arrive, because he realizes that though he tried to drive them from his heart the way they drove him from his home, he failed – they are his brothers.
When he hears their remorse, because how much earlier could there have been a reconciliation if Joseph had just taken his chariot north during those 7 years of bounty and the first 2 of the famine.
When he sees Benjamin, because he had allowed his anger and bitterness to keep him from the one he had, at least, considered his true brother. The same is true of his father Jacob, with whom he will be reunited, next week. How could he let his lingering resentment keep them apart?
How long can resentment or even forgotten embarrassments keep us apart from family, each other, Torah and God?