Friday December 10th 2021
In Parshat Vayigash,Yosef finally reveals himself to his brothers. After he sufficiently tests them and sees that they are changed men, he says the famous words, “I am Yosef, is my father still alive?”
Yosef clearly knows from the conversation his father is still alive. The obvious question asked by many Mepharshim is, why is he asking this?
The Sforno explains that what he meant was, “Is he alive emotionally after being so sad for all those years?” Could he still be emotionally okay after so much sorrow?
The Tur explains it as is he still vigorous and active, not just alive.
The Ralbag has a different point of view. Yosef knows the brothers could say anything to get what they wanted. Is it possible the whole story was made up, Yaakov is not alive, and they were making it up in order to get what they needed to get?
This can also be understood as Yosef rebuking the brothers. After hearing the brothers say Yaakov cannot survive if Benyamin didn’t come back, Yosef is implying, “Why were you not this concerned when you sold me into slavery, for my father’s well-being?”
No matter what the explanation, we can see that Yosef’s words are deeper than just simple P’shat.