Parshat Vayigash begins with Yehudah petitioning Yosef to free Binyamin from custody. Yehudah opens his famous speech by comparing Yosef to Pharaoh, saying, “Ki Kamocha Kifaroh,” “For you are like Pharaoh” (44:18). In what way is Yehudah comparing Yosef to Pharaoh?
Rashi clarifies that Yehudah is actually rebuking Yosef. Just as Pharaoh made promises that he did not keep, such as appointing Yosef as a ruler even though he was a slave, so, too, Yosef did not keep his promise that he would merely rest his eyes upon Binyamin, but in fact arrested him. However, it is still not clear what Yehudah was implying by comparing Yosef to Pharaoh.
Rav Moshe Feinstein zt”l explains that Yehudah’s comments should really be understood as follows. If Yosef makes decrees that he does not follow, people will think that his master, Pharaoh, does the same thing, since a servant usually imitates his master. This notion is found in Sefer Mishlei (29:12), which says, “Moshel Makshiv Al Divar Shaker, Kol Misharitav Rishaim” “When a ruler listens to a lie, all his servant are wicked.” However, the opposite is true as well. As the Gemara (Chullin 4b) states, if a master listens to truth, then his servants must be righteous. Chazal extrapolated this idea from the case of an adulteress, as the Torah says, “…Et Aviha Hee Michalelet…,” “She is disgracing her father” (Vayikra 21:9). Since we assume that the girl who committed this sin learned her evil ways from her father, he, too, is worthy of disgrace. Thus, by rebuking Yosef, Yehudah warned Yosef not to learn the evil ways of his master.
It is important to learn that when one acts, he does not only represent himself, but his parents and Rabbeim as well. If one acts righteously, people will be greatly impressed, and give much credit to his parents and teachers. However, if one acts inappropriately, people will blame the parents and teachers for his actions. Even more importantly, we must constantly remember that we represent Hashem and all that is associated with Him. This is truly a great responsibility, and one which we must constantly pay attention to.