Once again we are entering into awards season with Oscars, Golden Globes, Emmys and a whole variety of other awards to be handed out to celebrities. We’ll discuss the nominations process and then on the night we’ll watch as Hollywood awards its best and brightest with their gift of a statuette to take home. But one of the things we’ll most look forward to are the acceptance speeches when the celebrities stand on stage and give thanks to all of the people who helped them get to that place they have aspired to reach. We’ll listen out to see who’s missed and who’s included. And, see that they give credit where credit is due.
In the case of the actors, they nearly always thank the director or the producers of the movie and similarly the directors are always thanking the actors for making them look good. People are very conscious of thanking the people who helped them get to the place where they’re finally standing.
And in this week’s Torah portion, as Joseph is rushed to see Pharaoh to interpret his dream, we might remember the arrogant boy of previous verses who boasted to his brothers and father that they would one day bow down to him and seemed to rub his brother’s noses in the fact that he was his father’s favorite. And, yet when Pharaoh calls Joseph to him and says “I have a dream that no one else can interpret and I would like you to tell me its meaning”, Joseph says to Pharaoh,” I don’t interpret dreams, God will see to Pharaoh's welfare.”
Something happened to Joseph in the period of time from his sale into slavery to this moment that he stands before Pharaoh which allowed this young man to grow up and realize that it was God working through him and that credit needed to be given to God. And when Pharaoh explains to him the dream, Joseph says to Pharaoh “Pharaoh's dreams are really one and the same, God has told Pharaoh what God is about to do.” And then it continues “God has revealed to Pharaoh what God is about to do”.
In the interpretation, Joseph makes reference to God again and again and again. This is no longer the arrogant young boy taking credit for everything, even the things he was not responsible for. This is now a mature young man who recognizes that it is through the gift of God that he is able to stand before Pharaoh and offer interpretation for his dream and through the gift of God that he even has the ability to understand the dreams that Pharaoh had.
We see in Joseph the importance of giving credit where credit is due. And when Pharaoh ultimately makes the decision to place Joseph as the leader of all Egypt to help them through the seven years of plenty and then the seven years of famine, I wonder, if part of that decision related to the fact that he saw, in Joseph, someone who was prepared to stand before the Pharaoh and not take all the credit for himself, but attribute that credit and that blessing to God. In that moment, we, as the reader also see just how much Joseph has grown up. And how he is ready for the next stage of his life.