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And tell my father of all my glory in Egypt and all that you saw and hurry and bring my father down here. (Bereishis 45:13)
Just a few posukim above Yosef instructed his brothers to tell his father that Hashem has appointed him as a Master in the land of Egypt. Certainly, achieving a position of prominence in the upper echelons of government, in the most powerful world power of the day includes great glory. We may therefore ask, what did Yosef add by requesting of his brothers to tell their father about his glory? Further, it appears rather odd that Yosef would wish to boast to his father about achieving great glory. Seeking honor and taking pride in its achievement is not a praiseworthy character trait among the children of Yaakov.
Back in parshas Vayeirah we learned that Yaakov achieved great success in the home of Lavan. This evoked envy from the children of the Lavan. The posuk there records He (Yaakov) heard that the words of Lavan sons saying, Yaakov has taken all that belongs to our father (Lavan), and from that which belongs to our father he amassed all this glory. The Hebrew word for glory is kavod. The commentators take note that here the word is spelled without the letter vav between the beis and the daled. The omission of the letter vav indicates that there was something lacking.
The commentators explain this omission by noting that there are two types of glory. One type of glory is that which comes to a person due to wealth and other earthy possessions and accomplishments. The other type of glory is that which comes to a person due to spiritual accomplishments. True glory is only that which comes due to spiritual accomplishments. This glory is not necessarily apparent in this world but it is hidden in the soul and will accompany a person into the next world. Glory that comes to a person due to wealth and earthly possessions cannot be termed true glory. Wealth is transient and does not reflect the inner accomplishments of the soul.
When the Torah records the description of Yaakovs wealth in the eyes of Lavans children the word is spelled without a vav. The Torah is teaching us that the wealth and material possessions of Yaakov cannot be termed Yaakovs true glory. Indeed when the word kavod is spelled without a vav it can also be read kaveid, which means a burden. Wealth and material goods when not used properly can become a great burden on an individual. However, when the posuk discusses the glory that will come to Torah scholars the posuk reads, The wise will inherit glory. Here, the Hebrew word for glory is spelled with a vav, indicating the true glory of spiritual accomplishments.
Now we may take a closer look at our posuk. The posuk says that Yosef asked his brothers to relate to their father all his glory. The word for glory here is the same kavod as in the above quoted posukim. Also, here kavod it is spelled with a vav. Yosef first instructed his brothers that they tell their father about his being appointed a Master in Egypt. He then added that they should also tell their father about his spiritual accomplishments. Yosef realized that Yaakovs first concern for him was with regard to his spiritual development. He told them to tell his father that despite the great temptations of Egyptian culture, he was able to remain righteous and achieve true glory.
© Efraim Levine 5761/2001