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A King’s Forgiveness

In Bereishis 50:17 the shevatim sent Yosef a message that their father had allegedly told them that Yosef should forgive his brothers. The gemara in Kesubos 17a tells us that a king who was mochel on his kovod, his kovod is not forgiven. This means that a king cannot forgive, so how could Yosef forgive his brothers?

There are a lot of tirutzim to this question. The first tirutz from the Chida is that the din of a melech not being able to forgive is only for something that was done while he was king, not something that preceded his kingship. Since the mechiras Yosef took place before he became king, there would be no issue for Yosef to be mochel his brothers. This is also the reason Dovid HaMelech was able to forgive Shimi ben Geira; because he cursed Dovid before Dovid became king.

The second tirutz from the Yismach Moshe hones into the reason the brothers used the language, “your father commanded you,” to say that this is not a mechilah issue, but rather a mitzvah of Kibbud Av which the gemara in Kiddushin 31b says applies even after a parent dies.

The third tirutz is also from the Yismach Moshe which explains that a king cannot be mochel on his kovod if he is king by himself. In our case, Yosef had a king above him, Pharaoh; therefore, Yosef was able to be mochel his brothers.

The fourth tirutz is from the Ohr Hachaim that says that the rule of a melech not being mochel on his kovod is only a Jewish king that was anointed by Klal Yisroel. Yosef was not anointed by the shevatim, therefore the rule of a king not being able to be mochel would not apply.

The fifth tirutz is based on the Makneh in Kiddushin 32b that says that the rule of a melech not being able to be mochel on his kovod is learned out from the posuk that says “som tasim -” you should appoint a king with a lot of jobs. This would apply only after Mattan Torah when the melech had the mitzvah of being a king and his subjects had the mitzvah of respecting the king. Since this story with Yosef took place before mattan Torah, Yosef was able to be mochel on his kovod.

The sixth tirutz we can say based on the Chemdas Yisroel mitzvah 173 that says that a melech cannot be mochel on his kovod is only regarding the future, but not on something that already took place.

The seventh tirutz is from Eizor Eliyahu that says that since good came out at the end, he was able to be mochel. As a matter of fact, his whole kingship came out of this mechiras Yosef; therefore, he was able to be mochel.

The eighth tirutz could be that the reason a melech cannot be mochel on his kovod, but a talmid chochom can be mochel on his kovod, is because a melech gets his kovod from the subjects who appointed him so the kovod is not his to be mochel. A Talmid Chochom is koneh Torah and that kovod belongs to him, as the Torah is his. In the case of Yosef, he was appointed because of his prowess of being able to interpret the dreams, therefore this kovod of melucha belonged to him so he was able to be mochel the same way a talmid Chochom can.

May we be zoche to be forgiven by our father in heaven and we will be zoche to the geula.