Rabbi Milevsky's Thought of the Week: Mikeitz - 5781
After Yosef becomes the second-in-command in Egypt, Pharaoh declares that “no man will lift a hand or foot in all of the land” without Yosef’s permission. According to the translation of Onkelos, the verse is actually telling us that “no one will be allowed to carry weapons or use any means of transportation without Yosef’s explicit permission.” My father gave the following explanation as to why Yosef desired to control gun permits and transportation licences throughout Egypt.
Yosef foresaw that the Jewish people would one day descend to Egypt and live in the ghetto of Goshen. To prevent the Egyptian populace from launching pogrom-style onslaughts against the Jewish enclave, he enacted strict weapon-control laws.
In addition, to prevent the Jews from fraternizing with the locals and assimilating into the Egyptian culture, he severely restricted transportation throughout the country. In this manner, he effectively isolated the Jewish settlement and minimized its potential exposure to Egyptian culture.
Jewish continuity faced no danger as long as they remained committed to their culture in Goshen. Only later, when they ventured out of the walls of their traditions, and interacted with society at large, did antisemitism rear its ugly head in Egypt.