The difficulty with Rashi’s answer, as the Ramban writes, is that it undermines the interpretation Yosef had given to Pharoah’s dreams. We can easily imagine a disgruntled Pharaoh coming to Yosef and saying, “We invested in preparations for a seven year famine. We put you in charge because we thought that famine was coming. Now there’s no famine. Remind us why we trusted you…?” Even if Yosef could defend himself – without his leadership, who knows if Egypt would have survived even the famine that they faced – Ramban is still bothered by the fact that the dream itself was proven false. Why would G-d reveal a future that was not to be? Therefore, he disagrees with Rashi’s interpretation.Perhaps the machlokes between Rashi and Ramban here revolves around how to understand the bracha the occurred though Ya’akov’s arrival. Surely Ramban would not argue that Yosef’s warehousing of wheat in the days of plenty so that the effects of the famine were mitigated somehow undermined the truthfulness of Pharoah’s dream. The fact that human ingenuity in the form of Yosef’s planning could eliminate the harmful effects of the famine does not make the fact that there was a famine any less true. A thought experiment: what if Yosef created an invention that would cause the Nile to flow as normal, no matter what the weather conditions in Egypt? Would that have undermined the prediction foretold in the dream? I think one could make a good argument that this would be no different than warehousing crops. And you can see the next step in my reasoning: instead of a mechanical invention, what if Yosef simply asked his father to stand by the river and give it his blessing so that it flowed as usual and crops could be irrigated? Is that so different? Perhaps Rashi did not think so.
This doesn’t fit so nicely into the words of Rashi, “kalah ha’ra’av,” which implies that the famine truly ended, not just that its effects were mitigated. And this line of reasoning certainly does not fit the views in Chazal which hold that the famine was only temporarily suspended during Ya’akov’s lifetime. If the bracha was just a means of mitigating the effects of the famine, then the count of all seven years should have exhausted itself completely.So what do we do with the Ramban’s question? Yosef prefaced his interpretation of the dreams with the following statement – “Es asher ha’Elokim oseh higid l’Pharaoh.” (41:25) The Berdichiver explains that this was not just a show of humility on Yosef’s part, but was an important caveat to the dreams and their interpretation. Pharaoh was being shown what “Elokim,” G-d’s midas hadin, had in store for Egypt. The reason Egypt was being dealt such a hard blow was clearly shown to Pharoah as well: Pharoah dreams that he is standing, “al ha’ye’or,” above the Nile. This detail caught Pharaoh’s attention, as he repeats it in recounting the dream to Yosef as well. Yet despite the importance Pharoah assigned to it, we find nothing in Yosef’s interpretation of years of plenty and years of famine that relates to this detail. Did Yosef just ignore it? The Berdichiver suggests that it’s not that Yosef thought the detail lacked significance, but he rather he realized that it had omni significance. It is not a particular aspect of what would happen that was being foretold, but rather something about the dream as a whole. What Pharoah was being shown was that it’s the elevation of his persona above the Nile, above all of Egypt, the deification of the self, that was behind everything that would happen. Yosef’s advice to Pharoah to appoint “ish navon v’chacham,” a wise man to tend to Egypt during the years of plenty to prepare for the famine, was not just a gratuitous insertion of his own two cents, but rather was part and parcel of the message of the dreams. Only by Pharoah relinquishing power, releasing the reins to someone else, stepping down from being “al ha’ye’or,” could calamity be avoided. Now we can understand, says the Berdichiver, how Ya’akov’s arrival cancelled the famine, yet was entirely consistent with Pharoah’s dream and Yosef's interpretation. So long as Pharoah himself was “al ha’ye’or,” the midas hadin of “es ha’Elokim oseh…” would cause Egypt to suffer. Once Ya’akov arrived and entered the scene, there was a greater man than Pharaoh that stood “al ha’ye’or,” as a tzadik stands above and commands the natural world. The midas ha’din of the shem Elokim was now tempered with rachamim brought by the tzadik and its effect was no longer felt. The condition the dream was predicated on no longer held true.