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Rashi (Bereishis 37:25) quotes the Midrash explaining Arab caravans ordinarily carried foul smelling cargo like tar and petroleum, yet Hashem ensured the caravan Yosef was sold to would carry pleasant spices instead. That being the case, how could the nice aroma really help Yosef get through the frightening journey and excruciating betrayal of his brothers?

  • My Rebbeim taught me that Hashem is exact in His decrees. The lesson here is that a bad smell was not part of the decree, so Hashem arranged for an unusual event so as not to add anything worse than the gezeirah itself. – David Kenner Dec 23 '16 at 13:33
  • I heard a "d'var Torah" in which this question was asked, and the answer was something like "Hashem was letting Yosef know he was there" (no source). – WAF Dec 24 '16 at 23:54
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Rashi doesn't say anything about the spices being helpful for getting over emotional trauma.

וגמליהם נושאים וגו' - למה פרסם הכתוב את משאם להודיע מתן שכרן של צדיקים שאין דרכן של ערביים לשאת אלא נפט ועטרן שריחן רע ולזה נזדמנו בשמים שלא יוזק מריח רע

He explains that they brought spices so that bad smell of their usual wares wouldn't bother him.

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    שלא יוזק (lit. so he wouldn't be harmed) sounds perhaps even more serious than just wouldn't bother him -- i.e. an actual health hazard. – Zev Spitz Dec 23 '16 at 8:45
  • Great point Zev! I'm still looking for an answer because of the implication of Rashi of 'damage' – NJM Jan 22 '17 at 6:46

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