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“And now let Pharaoh look for a discerning and wise man. ” (41:33)

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Rashi interprets Pharaoh’s question literally, “If we were to seek such a unique individual, could we possibly find one such as he?” The Satmar Rebbe z.l., questions Pharaoh’s attitude.  Even if Yosef appeared to be the “best man” for the job, why was Pharaoh so reticent to search for someone who might better qualify for the position?  He should first have searched for a great and capable leader. Afterwards, he could have offered Yosef the position by default.

The Rebbe offers a novel response. Yosef was proficient in all seventy languages. The angel Gavriel had taught them to him. If this had not been the case, Yosef would never have had access to such an esteemed position.  Pharaoh presumed that Yosef had achieved his degree of amazing proficiency as a result of actually studying the various languages and sciences which had been written by the pagans. He inferred that Yosef’s exposure to secular knowledge had not only educated him intellectually, but also would have destroyed him spiritually. Yosef, however, maintained his spiritual integrity.  Consequently, Pharoah believed that he would never find someone else like Yosef –an accomplished intellectual who still maintained his “ruach Elokim,” his lofty spiritual nature.  Pharaoh decided that Yosef was the only person who truly qualified for the position.

Horav Yosef Chaim Zonenfeld z.l., once remarked as follows, concerning Yosef’s accomplishment of mastering seventy languages in one night. He said that the possibility of attaining a level of expertise in seventy languages in one night is understood from Yosef, but to become a talmid chacham, Torah scholar, in one night is impossible. This achievement can only be accomplished through diligence, determination, and unwavering devotion over the course of many years, until one merits the mantle of distinction to be referred to as a “gaon.

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