"The chief cupbearer and the chief baker….the chief butcher…" (Gen. 40:2-3)

Allegorically, Egypt and Pharaoh represent the forces that prevent the insight of the mind from affecting the emotions of the heart. When we intellectually perceive G‑dliness, these forces keep this perception from reaching the heart and creating an emotional response of love and reverence for G‑d. Pharaoh creates this disconnection by means of his three chiefs—the chief butcher, the chief cupbearer, and the chief baker—who represent indulgence in sensual and worldly pleasures, which distract a person from G‑dliness.

Through his interactions with these three chiefs, Joseph overcame their spiritual counterparts and elevated the sparks of holiness that resided within them. For example, while in the home of the chief butcher, Joseph overcame passion for physical pleasure and instead transformed it into passionate love for G‑d.

By overcoming these obstacles to spiritual growth, Joseph enabled the Jewish people to do the same, both those who would be enslaved in Egypt and those who would suffer future exiles.

Adapted from Torah Ohr 58b, 71d, 102c; Ma'amarei Admor HaEmtza'i, Bereishit, pp. 489-490
© 2001 Chabad of California/www.LAchumash.org