The passuk mentions that Yaakov loved Yosef over all the brothers, כי בן זקנים הוא לו, which simply means because he was a son born to him in his old age. However in Parshas Vayigash the passuk states that Binyamin is called “וילד זקנים קטן and a young lad of old age.” This seems that Binyamin is called the son born to Yaakov in his old age. How can we reconcile these two “זקנים”s?
Onkelos translates here, by Yosef, that he was the son who was smart to Yaakov, whereas by Binyamin Onkelos translates literally, that Binyamin was born in Yaakov’s old age.
The Ramban explains that whatever Yaakov learned from Shem and Eiver he gave over to Yosef. Yosef had the taste and understanding of old people who are wise. Yaakov taught Yosef the deep wellsprings of Torah and found Yosef capable of grasping the secrets as though he was well on in his years, as an elder. The passuk states הוא לו, Yosef was to Yaakov a smart lad, because he noticed the quick and deep understanding that Yosef had above his brothers. The passuk teaches that Yaakov loved Yosef more than the standard natural love he had for each of his children, because of his tremendous abilities.
Before Yaakov went to Lavan’s house he learned in the Beis Medrish of Shem and Eiver for 14 years. HaRav Yaakov Kaminetzky explains this was because Yaakov needed to prepare himself for the challenges he would endeavor in exile. Why wasn’t the Torah that he learned from Avraham and Yitzchook, the Avos HaKedoshim, not enough to prepare himself to dwell with Lavan?
HaRav Kaminetzky explained that Shem and Eiver were unique. They were amongst the דור המבול and the דור הפלגה, who were wicked people, and had no one to teach them to stay safe from the resha’im. They were successful with learning to guard themselves and remain untainted from the challenges of their surroundings. Yaakov specifically went to Shem and Eiver to learn this Torah called “Toras HaGalus” which he too needed to be safe from Lavan and the other resha’im. There was a kabbalah from the bris bein habesarim that Avraham’s descendants would go into exile. Yaakov felt that Yosef would be the one who would go into exile thereby needing this specific Torah and therefore taught him the Toras HaGalus. He did not teach the rest of the brothers this area of Torah because he did not feel this would be necessary for them.
May we all learn and become proficient in our own portion of Torah!