הרב דוד זץ
One of the intriguing elements to the final parshiyot of Breishit, is that we are given a peek into the lives of some of the shevatim. This week’s parsha is no exception when we have two of the most essential parties taking the stage, Yosef and Yehuda. These individuals will remain the patriarchs of the leadership for the Jewish people throughout history and the interaction in this week’s parsha takes the spotlight. The Midrash describes the encounter as two mighty warriors that shook the world when standing up to one another.
When delving into the storyline of this week’s parsha, upon Yehuda’s concluding his speech to Yosef, we glean a number of important elements and lessons from Yosef’s behavior. Rav Wolbe zt”l asks why did Yosef wait until now to reveal himself? When one considers the strategy that Yosef was using in hiding his identity, one would conclude that Yosef wanted to make sure the childhood dreams were being fulfilled. But at this point, the dreams had already been fulfilled as the brothers all bowed down to him as king, so why wait any longer? What was it in Yehuda’s speech that caused Yosef to make the big reveal?
Rav Wolbe writes that a child who is bullied in their youth never really lets go of the negative emotions towards the bully. The hatred and pain over so much time builds an almost permanent residence within that individual. Additionally, if that person would ever come to a position of power and control, vengeance would be the first thing they would take on those now vulnerable bullies. Not so was the case with Yosef! Yosef never spoke about the hate, torment, and pain that he felt from his own brothers. In fact, when he revealed himself to them, in order that they wouldn’t feel any sense of shame, he ordered everyone else to leave the room. Not only did Yosef not take revenge but instead showed care and concern for his brothers. This is consistent with the message that Yosef was looking for before he was to reveal himself to his brothers.
Before Yosef would shock the world and disclose his real identity, he needed to see whether the lessons of old were learned from or not. Was there a division still between the children of Leah and the children of Rochel, or did unity set in. When Yehuda stood up and took responsibility for Binyamin, a new era had begun amongst the shevatim. An era of Bnei Yisrael acting as one unit rather than separate smaller units caring only about themselves.
To have such an opportunity in hand but to look beyond the scope of the individual self and care for the collective unit, Yosef and Yehuda showed everyone in every generation the importance of unity amongst our diverse nation.
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