Saturday, 9 December 2017
Parsha: Miketz, "Is Avodah Zara the Same for Jew and for Gentile?"
First - Yosef identifies himself as "G-d fearing" (42:18). Later on, his servant sounds like he recognizes "Elokeichem" (43:23) If Yosef is a G-d fearing man, then we may reasonably infer that he doesn't worship idols. However, later on, Yosef and his servant presume that Yaakov's sons should KNOW that he is a "m'nacheish" (44:5,15).
None of the brothers, including Yehudah, challenge Yosef about this seeming contradiction. On the one hand, Yosef serves Elokim while on the other hand, he is a "well-known" m'nacheish. Now, if Yosef actively fears Gd, then how could Yaakov's sons know that he is a m'nacheish?
There may be room for a clever hilluq here. Although we have the 7 Mitzvot B'nei Noah, Mattan Torah hasn't yet happened. The text strongly suggests that a Noahide is permitted to engage in activity that for a Ben Torah would constitute a form of Avodah Zarah [AZ]. In this case, worshiping G-d and still practicing Nichush regularly (as opposed to an occasional deviation).
BE"H we will follow up upon this same theme during Parshat Vo'Etchanan - namely that the criteria for AZ for a Jew seems stricter than for a non-Jew.