In parshas Miketz, Yosef interprets pharaoh's dream and offers his advice on how to help the dire future situation.

However, his advice is purely practical, seemingly just a way to avoid Hashem's judgement. This seems more like the Dor Haflaga building a tower to avoid future floods when the sky cracks open, rather than a prophet of Hashem who would admonish those to be affected to repent, like what Yona did with Ninvei.

Why would Yosef act in this way?

  • Comments are not for extended discussion; this conversation has been moved to chat.
    – msh210
    Commented Jan 14, 2023 at 17:19
  • it was Yosef's ability to interpret Paro's dream that made Yosef appear wise in his eyes but perhaps if he added additional things not related to the dream directly then he would have dismissed him as he had all of the "wise" men in Egypt. It seems to me that the way Hashem orchestrated this point was for Yosef to have a way to redeem hiself. What then would be of this opportunity if at the same time he angered Paro and got sent back to jail? It would have meant he was not in a position to help b'ne yisroel when they had to settle in Egypt and perhaps the suffering would have been longer
    – Dude
    Commented Jan 19, 2023 at 3:12

3 Answers 3


Once again, I would have put this in a comment, but I only have 49 reputation points, and need just one more to comment! Anyway, in response to a comment above, since when is dream interpretation Nevuah? Besides, this doesn't answer why Yosef couldn't have simply told Pharoah simple personal advice to repent, indeed not as a part of the interpretation of the dream. Personally, this question opened up my mind to a really cool observation. We know the Midrash says that the King of Nineveh in Sefer Yonah, was also Pharaoh (I believe it's a Machlokes if it was the same Pharaoh. See Rashi on Shemos 1:8, unless the Pharaoh changed again during the Ten Plagues, which I think might have been the case.) Either way though, we find there too that Yonah specifically did not want to tell the King to repent because of negative repercussions for the Jews. I wonder if there may be a real repetition/connection between that story, and here, Yosef specifically trying to give Pharaoh an alternative method of dealing with the punishments, other than repentance. I mean imagine if Pharoah and Egypt would have indeed repented. Maybe that would have prevented Klal Yisroel's entire future i.e., Galus & Yetzias Mitzrayim, which may very well have been a pre-requisite to receiving the Torah! Gut Shabbos, A Gut Chodesh, and A Freilichen Chanukah!

  • But what did paroh do to need to repent? And when was yosef sent with the job of telling him to repent? Yonah was sent.
    – rosends
    Commented Dec 24, 2022 at 23:19
  • @rosends On the contrary, Yonah was sent by God and STILL tried to refrain! Yosef who wasn't sent by God, why on earth would he go ahead and tell Pharaoh on his own? As for what Pharaoh did wrong, Is Egypt not recognizing the true God, not good enough of a reason? Besides, I believe it's clear that they were a very sinful nation! Prohibitions in the Torah refer to "the way they did in Egypt"... Commented Dec 25, 2022 at 2:20
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    We have no evidence that Yosef saw any wrong doing by Paroh. We know that Avraham DID see wrong doing, but he didn't preach repentance.
    – rosends
    Commented Dec 25, 2022 at 2:44
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    Oh, I see. I hear both things you're saying, and I don't know how much I agree with either, but now I understand where you're coming from. I'll quickly answer that Yosef PROBABLY WAS aware of what was going on in Egypt at the time, judging by the time he spent there, and Yosef was probably in a more appropriate situation to tell Pharaoh that his Country needs to repent. However, I still think your points are valid and this all definitely needs more careful consideration. Commented Dec 25, 2022 at 2:55
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    @AYALTAAROG The interperetations of dreams, especially in this story, is through nevuah. One needs not look farther then parshas Miketz, perek מא pasuk טז. The meforshim further expound on this.
    – Kovy Jacob
    Commented Dec 25, 2022 at 17:21

First of all, you have to be EXTREMELY careful about how you speak about Yosef hatzaddik. He was a tzaddik, a navi, and you should be very careful to ask any question from the point o view of your lack of understanding. Comparing Yosef to the dor haflaga, chas veshalom, is something you don't want to do.

That being said, lets first talk about the interpereting of the dream. The interpretation was not Yosef Hatzaddik's own interpretation, it was a nevuah (I have personally seen this brought down in Shiurei R' Shlomo Volbe and the Griz Al Hatorah). So the interpretation was not an interperetation per se, it was a nevuah.

So now, the question we are left with is why did Yosef Hatzaddik choose to give practical advice on how to prepare for the upcoming famine, instead of telling Paroh to do teshuvah?

For this, lets take a step back and look at the whole famine. This was orchestrated by Hashem for the purpose of bringing the shevatim, and through that the rest of bnei yisrael, to Egyptians. I saw, I forgot where, that through this whole story Yosef knew through nevuah that this was all being orchestrated as a fulfillment of his dreams that he had had (with the whear and stars bowing), and that is why Yosef Hatzaddik did what he did, at any point. So that would presumably answer your question.

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    I do not see why you considered his question disrespectful.
    – MichoelR
    Commented Dec 26, 2022 at 0:26
  • @MichoelR You don't see how comparing what Yosef Hatzaddik said to the Dor Haflaga is disrespectful?
    – Kovy Jacob
    Commented Dec 27, 2022 at 4:52
  • He understands that Yosef was good, the Dor Haflaga bad, and therefore he asks why he sees a similarity in their actions.
    – MichoelR
    Commented Dec 27, 2022 at 21:55
  • @MichoelR If one sees a between Yosef Hatzaddik and the Dor Haflaga, the question shouldn't be why Yosef Hatzaddik acted the way he did, the question should be why they seem to think there is a similarity, and that that is an okay comparison to make.
    – Kovy Jacob
    Commented Dec 28, 2022 at 6:53
  • I think he just left out a frum phrase you expected, like "ח"ו", or "of course there is no comparison"... Historically and today, different communities and gedolim had different customs on whether to add those phrases. You are from a community where they are required, as am I. But you would have no problem finding a question like that in your Mikraos Gedolos.
    – MichoelR
    Commented Dec 28, 2022 at 14:35

From the outset, Yosef explained that the purpose of the dream was to inform Pharaoh of what is about to happen. The idea being that Pharaoh should know what to do. In fact, The Ohr Hachaim Hakadosh uses this to explain why Yosef saw fit to advise the king when he wasn't asked to do so. Moreover, continues the Ohr Hachaim, the advice is alluded to in the dream as well, where it shows the famished cows/stalks eating the fuller ones.

Another point is that in general when a natural disaster hits it is not necessarily meant to be seen as a direct message, but rather we can use it to confirm, or reaffirm, fear of Hashem. In this vain the Gemara in Brachos tells us that thunder was created in order to straighten out the heart (to remind us of the might of Hashem).

The Dor Haflaga was sinful in taking a clearly prophesied and clearly non-natural event out of its prophecy context and reinterpreting it as a natural occurrence. And they all knew that it wasn't the case. That would be similar to the Egyptians reacting to the Makkos as if it were a natural occurrence. But a famine is just like a hurricane.

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