Dvar for Vayeshev (Genesis 37:1-40:23)
As Yosef makes his way to Egypt, he establishes himself as a loyal employee of Potifar. The Torah attests that Yosef’s boss trusted him with every aspect of life, only having to think about what to eat (39:4-6). When Potiphar’s wife tries to seduce Yosef, he refuses. Yosef explains that he has been entrusted with taking care of things, that he is second only to her, that he cannot commit this evil, and that it would be a sin against G-d (39:9). Why did Yosef have to explain all this to Potifar’s wife? Couldn’t he have just said no? Further, why does the Torah relate his elaborate explanation?
Rabbi Zweig explains that Yosef explained to Potifar’s wife that breaking his boss’s trust would destroy his character. Yosef spent 33 words describing how it was wrong to betray someone’s trust and only two words explaining that it was a sin. This narrative shows the importance Yosef placed on maintaining his moral integrity. As we read and study Yosef’s actions in a foreign land, we can learn a lot from his actions and strive to emulate his qualities.