“And he (Yosef) presented himself unto him (Yaakov, his father)” (Bereishis 46:29)
This statement seems extra, as we are already told that Yosef went to meet his father? The Torah must be coming to tell us something extra. I would like to share an answer that I heard, by taking from a different area of Torah.
Many times, people do things that both make them feel good and appreciated. These actions also make the recipient of their beneficence feel good, as well. An example of this would be a rich man who gives money to a needy person. The rich man probably has two emotions that he feels: 1) He feels good because he has made someone else happy; and 2) He feels good because he has done something productive. Many times, if you would ask the rich person which of those two emotions is primary and which is secondary, he would say that the most important thing is that the other person should feel good, and the fact that I also feel good is just a bonus. (The same could apply to a woman making supper for her family.)
However, sometimes we are just fooling ourselves! At these times, the personal fulfillment is primary, and helping the other person is only secondary.
How can we know the truth? In my opinion, a litmus test of these situations would be to ask yourself “Would I be as generous in this situation if no one knew I was the benefactor?” Chazal tell us that the level of chesed in that type of tzedakah, where the recipient does not have a formal feeling of indebtment (because he doesn’t know who benefited him) is a higher level of charity. Being that this is the case, one would imagine that when he can be anonymous about his chesed, he would do it with more vigor, more generosity and would be happier. However, many times in those thankless situations, we find people dragging their feet and not giving the charity.
Let’s go to our original question. Why did the pasuk tell us that Yosef availed himself to his father? Yosef had a burning desire to see his father, and as soon as he saw him his natural urge would have carried him to race over to him and embrace him in his arms. However, he understood that if he would do that, he would be taking away his father’s opportunity to “look him over” and revel in the sight of his beloved son. Therefore, Yosef suppressed his personal urge to allow his father to have the full pleasure of seeing his son.
We learn from this idea that even when one does chesed, one should put thought into how the chesed could be done in a way which would benefit the recipient the most.