Frustrated by her failure to seduce Joseph, Potiphar’s wife slandered him and Potiphar threw him into prison. Here too, Joseph rapidly rose to a position of responsibility. Shortly after his imprisonment, Pharaoh’s chief cupbearer and chief baker were also put in prison. The morning after they both had disturbing dreams, Joseph noticed their anxiety and offered to help. They told him their dreams, which he correctly interpreted as meaning that in three days the cupbearer would be restored to his position and the baker would be executed. Joseph asked the cupbearer to speak to Pharaoh on Joseph’s behalf after his release, but the cupbearer forgot about Joseph.
The Power of the Deed
וַיִּשְׁאַל אֶת סְרִיסֵי פַרְעֹה . . . לֵאמֹר מַדּוּעַ פְּנֵיכֶם רָעִים הַיּוֹם: (בראשית מ:ז)
[Joseph] asked Pharaoh’s servants, “Why are your faces so downcast today?” Genesis 40:7

Joseph had suffered horrible humiliations. It would have been logical for him to become absorbed in his own pain, angry at the world. But Joseph did not become bitter. He remained sensitive to others and to his Divine mission in life. Not only did he perceive the anguish of Pharaoh’s servants, he reached out to help them. To Joseph, the fact that G‑d had arranged for him to notice someone in need indicated that it was his duty to help.

As the result of this one, seemingly minor good deed, Joseph became the viceroy of Egypt, and was able to save the civilized world from famine. We see here, once again, the unimaginably far-reaching results that can come from one small good deed.1