It seems that Yaakov and Yosef did not spend much time together in Egypt. After the emotional reunion is there any other mention of them together? Why not?

6 Answers 6


פסיקתא רבתי‎ 3:45 has it that it was engineered by Yosef as such, so Yaakov would never say "by the way Yosef, how exactly did you um, get lost when you went looking for your brothers, and wind up in Egypt?"


It would be improper - as Yaakov the father would have to show respect to his son Yosef who is the Mishne L'Melech. - will add in source after Shabbos

  • Does this mean that the fathers/mothers of anointed kings of Israel cannot meet with their powerful children?
    – Seth J
    Jan 6, 2012 at 18:33
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    In fact, it is recorded that the Maharam of Rothenberg (Germany, 1215-1293) stayed away from his father once he became a Rabbi, in order not to compromise his or his father’s honor. He did not want his father to show him respect, but he knew that if others would see his father not showing him respect, they would not realize that this was his father, thus causing a disgrace to the Torah. He therefore felt it was preferable to him not to see his father at all, so that neither would have to compromise his honor for the sake of the other’s honor. Jan 6, 2012 at 19:34
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    It's after Shabas. :-)
    – msh210
    Dec 9, 2013 at 0:27
  • It's significantly after Shabbos :P ( cc @msh210 )
    – MTL
    Dec 28, 2014 at 3:15

Rabbi Shlomo Kluger comments on the posuk (48,2) “And (someone) told Yaakov and said: Behold, your son Yosef is coming to you. And Yisrael summoned his strength and sat up on the bed”, that the word “behold” in this posuk implies that something new was happening here, implying that Yosef was accustomed never to go to his father.

We can explain why this was so from what the poskim write about the Maharam from Rottenburg, that from the day that he rose to prominence as a great sage he did not visit his father, nor did he wish that his father should visit him. The reason was because his father was an ordinary person, and it is a disgrace to the Torah for a great Torah sage to stand up for someone who is not a Torah sage, and not everybody who might see him stand for his father would know that it was his father.

But Yosef's father, Yaakov, was a great person. However, Yosef was concerned that if he came to his father, his father would want to honor him as befits a king, and to stand before him. Indeed, we see here that when Yaakov was told of Yosef’s imminent arrival, he struggled to sit up. Therefore, Yosef refrained from coming to his father, in order that his father would not need to honor him each time. But on the other hand, he loved for his father to visit him because his father was a great Tzaddik, and it was fitting for Yosef to honor Yaakov by standing for him.

Therefore, whenever Yaakov needed Yosef, he would go to him, and not the other way round. But now Yaakov was ill and could not go to Yosef, and so Yosef was forced to go to him. Therefore it says “and it was told to Yaakov: Behold” - Look! something new! - “your son Yosef is coming to you”, something that has never happened before, since Yosef was not accustomed to come to Yaakov.


I heard from Rav Yosef Mizrahi that the Gra had a sister that he hadn't seen in over 50 years, and when he met her, he just said "hello, nice to see you" and then went back to learn.

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    He didn't say מחיה המתים?
    – Yishai
    Dec 28, 2014 at 19:26

Despite the above answers to this question, there is a midrash that Yaakov convened family dinners during the remainder of his life, and requested that Yosef sit at the head of the table, in a position more honored than the other brothers, because of his position in the Egyptian government.

After Yaakov died, Yosef discontinued these dinners because he was uncomfortable with the protocol that would have required him to hold himself over his brothers. The brothers misinterpreted this as hatred that Yosef was only now expressing now that Yaakov was no longer alive, and this is why they made up a request from Yaakov that Yosef forgive his brothers.

  • Interesting. Any idea where this midrash is recorded? Dec 10, 2013 at 4:06
  • @MonicaCellio: commentaries on Bereishit 50:15 would be a good place to start. Note that Rashi brings a version of this idea, but is different enough so as to contradict the answer given here.
    – Menachem
    Dec 10, 2013 at 4:56
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    Bereishis Rabbah 100,8. It does not say there where the meals took place, but since it says that "he (Yaakov) would seat me (Yosef) etc." it would seem that it is referring to meals which took place in Yaakov's house.
    – user4523
    Dec 10, 2013 at 6:09

Ralbag notes that when Jacob was reunited with Joseph, it was possible that the joy would overwhelm his aged heart and he would die. Jacob therefore took steps to prevent this from happening, one of which was limiting the amount of time he spent with Joseph.

והרצון בזה כי מרוב השמחה ימות האדם בקלות וכל שכן הזקן ולזה אמר יעקב שהוא ירא שימות בעת ההיא מרוב השמחה אחרי ראותו את פניו כי עודנו חי ואמר זה כדי שיסור יוסף ממנו ושלא יבכה לפניו כדי שלא יתפעל לבו מזה ויפנה יעקב לבו לדברים אחרים כדי שלא ימות ולזה לא זכר בכיית יעקב על צוארי יוסף כי יעקב מנע עצמו מזה כדי שלא ימות מרוב הפעלות השמחה ולזה תמצא שדיבר אחר זה יוסף עם אחיו ועם כל בית אביו ולא היה שם יעקב כי כבר רצה יעקב שיסור ממנו יוסף אז כדי שלא ימות מרוב ההפעלות

התועלת השלישי הוא במידות והוא שראוי לשלם להתרחק בחזקת היד מההפעליות הנפשיות אשר יזיקוהו ולזה תמצא כי מפני ששיער יעקב שכבר יתפעל יותר מהראוי מהשמחה אם יעמוד עוד יוסף לפניו ויבכה על צואריו השתדל שיתרחק ממנו עם חוזק התשוקה שהיתה לו לראותו

He doesn't say how long this policy extended for, but if it continued on then it would explain why Jacob and Joseph did not spend much time together throughout the rest of the story.

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