Why did Yosef make “special” wine for his father Yaakov when he arrived in Egypt?
By: Rabbi Ari Enkin, Rabbinic Director, United with Israel
This week’s Torah portion is “Vayigash” (Genesis 44:18–47:27) and in it we read how after Yosef revealed his identity to his brothers, he instructed them to return to the Land of Israel and bring down their father, along with the rest of their family, to Egypt. There was food in Egypt, and everyone would be taken care of if they relocated there.
For the brothers’ journey home, Yosef sent along with them ten donkeys carrying “the best of Egypt” for their father to enjoy.
There are many interpretations as to what is meant by “the best of Egypt.” One such interpretation was that it was “old wine.”
The question is asked why is Yosef sending old wine to his father, Yaakov? Yaakov was about to find out that his son, whom he thought had been dead for the last 20+ years, was actually alive and ruling Egypt. It would certainly be a very emotional time for him. Why would he need or want this type of special wine at that time? He could wait to drink some of this wine after being reunited with Yosef!
Furthermore, where did this wine come from? Only Jews are permitted to make kosher wine, and Yosef was the only Jew in Egypt! And we are specifically told that Yosef *kept away* from wine all the years he was in Egypt! As such, he was not making wine. So what are the origins of this wine?
It is explained that Yosef indeed made the wine, thereby ensuring it was kosher, but he made it when he had first been brought down to Egypt and was a slave over 20 years prior. He was 17 years old when he landed in Egypt, after essentially being thrown into a pit, kidnapped, and nearly killed. Things weren’t going to well for him, to say the least.
Nevertheless, Yosef had faith that one day he would again be reunited with his family, and as a display of his faith, he made the wine at that time to be saved for when he would indeed be reunited with his family. Indeed, the wine was “old”!
Therefore, Yosef sent this very special wine to his father as a sign that he never lost faith that one day in the future they would again be reunited.
This is the lesson of the “old wine” never lose hope. Never lose faith. Even when things don’t look good, trust in God, and prepare for the better days ahead!
For more insights by Rabbi Enkin on this week’s Torah portion, click on the links below.
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