Thursday, December 18, 2014

it's not the beard that the brothers didn't recognize

The Torah tells us that Yosef was able to recognize his brothers, but they were not able to recognize him.  Rashi explains that the brothers’ appearance was unchanged since Yosef had last seen them, but he had grown a beard in the intervening years. 

The Ma’or v’Shemesh writes that it’s not Yosef’s physical appearance alone which made him unrecognizable.  There are plenty of people whom we recognize even after they’ve grown a beard or changed their hairstyle or dress.  What Rashi is telling us is that in the years that had elapsed since Yosef left home, the brothers did not grow – they remained spiritually stagnant.  They were exactly the same people as they were 20+ years earlier.  Not so Yosef.  He had gained in maturity, he had grown and developed as a person.  It was not Yosef the boy, the Yosef who had told their father tales of his brothers’ wrongdoings and taunted them with his dreams, that stood before the shevatim. It was an older and wiser Yosef, a completely different person.


  1. Still How does that answer How they didn't recognize him? Especially if yosef looked like yaakov, then with a beard they forsure recognize yosef since he'd look mamash like yakov!?

    1. 1. Because recognition is about mannerisms and personality more than looks.
      2. Dr. Twerski (the psychiatrist) in one of his books asks this question and explains that our interests/negiyos often blind us to the obvious. An alcoholic may be blind to the ill effects of his drinking even though they are obvious to everyone else. We see what we expect to see, and more importantly, what we want to see.

  2. Baal HaTurim says it never entered their minds that a slave would become king

  3. I hear all this. But it's hard to hear a little cause just walking down the street I make "calls" who a person looks like. Sorry Duno if anyone else does that.