Repetition and rectification I
Repetition and rectification I

The following example of repetition, and its aftermath, are steps in the growing process of Yosef and his brothers, and ultimately, steps in the redemption of a nation. It starts with a question that Yosef's father Yaakov asked him, concerning Yosef's dream, in Genesis 37:9 [itself a repetition of the dream in Genesis 37:7]. Yosef dreamed that the sun, the moon and eleven stars bowed down to him (symbolizing his father, mother and eleven brothers). The brothers resented the dream, feeling that Yosef wanted to dominate them. Yaakov had a question for Yosef, which began as follows:

Let's first look at a simple and elegant repetition in code:

Yaakov continued (beginning with the final letter hey shown above), "are we to come, I and your mother and your eleven brothers, ...". Rashi comments that Yaakov's question was really this: Your Mother (Rachel) is dead [so is it not impossible for your dream to be fulfilled?]. Rashi's explanation of the question repeats as a code with skip 1 (using the same letters with different word boundaries), including the letter hey where Rashi's comment begins, and spelling "Rachel is dead":

Now let's look at a repetition in the plain text which resembles a code:

Yosef's brothers hated him because of his dreams, and they mis-judged him so drastically that they threw this dreamer into a pit and sold him to tradesmen who happened by, with the comment, "we will see what becomes of his dreams". His brothers could never imagine that Yosef would go from being a slave in Egypt, to a prisoner, to a dream interpreter for Pharoah, to second in command over all of Egypt. As a result, Yosef was in a position to save all of the brothers and Yaakov from the world-wide famine 22 years later, thereby moving the entire seed of a nation forward, continuing Abraham's legacy.

In fact, 22 years later, the flavor of the original question "what is this dream that you have dreamed?" is repeated (in Genesis 44:15 - bottom quote):

This is Yosef speaking, asking the brothers "what is this deed that you have done?". Both phrases have a reprimanding flavor, and both have the form "what is this X that you have X'ed". It turns out that nowhere else in the Torah is this form used.

For Yosef's brothers, it seems that this repetition triggered something deep within them. It seems they felt that yes, our brother Yosef dreamed a dream that we did not approve of, but we did a deed that G-d did not approve of.

So for the brothers, this repetition was the wake-up call that they needed to confront the truth and the gravity of their mis-deed 22 years before. In the very next verse (Genesis 44:16), the brothers admitted their guilt and declared that they are ready to be slaves to Yosef.

As we read further we see that now that their repentance has begun, so has their salvation. The dreams, deeds and ultimate fate of the nation are given a certain "stamp of approval" or permission to go forward intact. Yosef responds in Genesis 50:20-21 when the brothers are afraid of his taking revenge: you meant harm to me, but Hashem meant it for good - to save a nation. Rashi says there, Yosef "spoke to their hearts". He told them that just as 10 candles could not extinguish one candle, even more so, one can not extinguish ten. Yosef was saying, although you 10 incorrectly thought that I was unworthy, Hashem arranged that I would continue as a candle, and likewise all of you, who, after all, are equally worthy.

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