|Yosef's Land of Affliction
Published: Wednesday, November 13, 2013 04:06:23 PM
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"And the name of his second son he called Ephraim, for G-d has made me fruitful in the land of my affliction", (Bereshit 41:52).
When Yosef's two sons were born, he gave them names which reflected particular circumstances in his life. The older son he called Menashe (making to forget), because, he said, "G-d has made me forget all the sorrow of my father's house",meaning the evil that his brothers had done to him. Clearly Yosef had not literally forgotten his earlier tribulations as is seen from the fact that he makes mention of them. The meaning is rather that G-d had granted him such a lofty and exalted position in Egypt that he needed no longer to feel the suffering that had befallen him since he was sold as a slave and also that of his father's house. Of what significance was his past anguish when he was now so exalted and as successful as ruler of Egypt, second only to Pharaoh? His second son Yosef called Ephraim (fruitfulness), because G-d had made him fruitful in the land of his affliction.
It seems strange that Yosef should have called the country where he had achieved such great social prominence "the land of my affliction". It is true that he had been falsely placed in prison in Egypt, but having later been released and made fruitful, with children, wealth and honor, one might have thought that he would not now harp upon his earlier plight. He should have forgotten all his sufferings in Egypt in the same way as he had forgotten the suffering of his father's house. However, despite all the glory he had attained, Yosef still regarded Egypt as a land of affliction, because he was yet in "Galut" (exile) in a land other than Eretz Yisrael.
Abarbanel explains that despite all the greatness, splendor, and honor Yosef now enjoyed, along with all the wealth and grain supply that he controlled, he still viewed Egypt as the land of his affliction, because it was not his father's home in the Holy Land of Israel. Yosef's powerful and profound message to our bretheren still in Chutz Laaretz is loud and clear…Come home.