Aryeh was very excited. His older brother Shmuel had been studying for a year in the Yeshivah Gedolah in Australia. He was now home for the yeshivah's short summer break. "I hope he'll wear his blue down coat so that I'll be able to pick him out in the crowd," said Aryeh to his sister Shirah on the way to the airport.
"Of course he'll wear it - it's snowing outside," said Shira.
"But Shirah, it's summer in Australia. He may not have realized how cold it is here now!"
As it turned out, Shmuel was wearing his blue down coat, but it didn't help much - Aryeh hardly recognized his older brother.
"Have I changed that much?" asked Shmuel, giving Aryeh a hearty hug.
Aryeh reached up to his brother's face. "Shmuel, you look very different. When you left for yeshivah, you hardly had a hair on your chin. Now you have a full beard!"
Shmuel laughed. "Oh, this?" he asked stroking his beard. "Well, I guess that's what happens when you get older and wiser."
"And when you stay away from home for a long time," added Shirah. "Hey, that reminds me of parshah class this week. When Yosef's brothers stood before him in Pharaoh's palace, he recognized them but they did not recognize him. Rashi explains that when they sold him as a slave he was a teenager. Now he had a full beard which made him look much different."
"A beard does make a person look different," agreed Aryeh. He thought for a moment. "But still, I'm surprised that he changed so much that Yosef's brothers could not recognize him, even after meeting and talking to him again and again. Even when Yehudah argued to save Benyamin, he did not think that he was talking to Yosef."
"Chassidus can explain that," explained Shmuel. "You see, it was hard for you to recognize me because of my beard, still you knew I would look like a yeshivah bachur. But when the brothers came to Egypt and met a governor who was supplying food to all the hungry people and who was running the economic affairs of the country, it never occurred to them that he could possibly be Yosef. They thought Yosef would be concerned only with spiritual things. they could never imagine him being so involved with business. That's why they didn't recognize him.
"But Yosef was on a higher level than his brothers. Yaakov Avinu had taught Yosef all of the Torah he knew. This helped Yosef live like a Torah Jew even though he lived among people who were far from HaShem and the Torah. Even when he was involved in buying and selling, he knew that the Torah is what is most valuable."
* * *
HaShem wants a Jew to be involved in this world, and to make it a place where HaShem's presence is felt. We should follow Yosef's example. Even when Yosef was involved in business matters, his life was not separate from HaShem and the Torah.
(Adapted from Likkutei Sichos, Vol. III, Parshas Vayigash)