When allegations are leveled at someone do we assume the person is guilty or innocent until proven guilty?
The wife of Potiphar made a raucous. She claimed that Yosef, trusted manager of her husband’s estate tried to molest her. The claims that she made led to Yosef being incarcerated.
Her strategy was to create an atmosphere of hysteria. She called the members of the household together and proclaimed, “Look, he (her husband) brought us a Hebrew man to laugh at us…I will call out in a loud proclamation.” Not only was she loud, she presented that this was an attack on all of them. Therefore everyone should be offended, enraged and seek justice.
The story was her concoction. The truth was the exact opposite of what she claimed. She was the one who was after Yosef. Yet, action was taken and Yosef was sent to jail.
She didn’t stop even with that accomplished. She kept repeating the story. Nine years later, it was still a topic of conversation, thanks to the commotion that she continually stirred.
With that in mind, Hashem orchestrated a series of events. The butler and baker of the Pharaoh each committed a minor infraction. Both of them were sentenced to imprisonment. That accomplished two things:
- While sharing place in jail with Yosef, the butler and baker both had dreams that disturbed them. Yosef noted their concerns and provided interpretations of their dreams which proved to be true. The butler was freed as Yosef predicted. When years later Pharaoh had troubling dreams, the butler shared that Yosef had special abilities to interpret dreams, which led to Yosef being freed from jail and his rise to becoming viceroy of Egypt.
- The imprisonment of the two, became the topic of conversation. The focus of everyone shifted from the fabricated crime of Yosef, to the violation of these two. Finally, after nine years, the story of Yosef and the wife of Potiphar, was no longer featured in the headlines.Hashem orchestrated the events of the butler and baker in order to serve as a distraction. Now there was something else to talk about. The matter was true, but arranged so that it would be the new focus of people’s attention.There is a market out there for salacious gossip. Imagine one story staying alive as the main topic of conversation for so many years. The fact that the stories exist do not reflect that they contain any semblance of truth. Some stories are made to undermine, to hurt, to cover or to divert our attention.Do we automatically accept as true the slander that we hear about others? Can we detect when something happened, it is a fabrication and/or only a distraction?
Rabbi Hershel D. Becker
 Vayeshev 39:7-20
 Vayeshev 39:14
 Rashi Vayeshev 40:1
 Breishis Raba 88:3
 Breishis Raba 88:1