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Parashat Vayigash - 5778

Dear friends,

Last week's Parasha ended with the brothers being charged with stealing Joseph's goblet. They are brought back before Joseph and the goblet is found in Benjamin's sack. Joseph suggests that all brothers can return to Canaan and bring food to their families, but that Benjamin will remain to serve time for stealing the goblet.

This week's Parasha begins with Judah approaching Joseph and asking for his attention. He relates the entire story of how they got to this point and that there is no way the brothers will return home without Benjamin. He worries that Jacob will die upon seeing that Benjamin is not with them. Judah offers to become a slave instead of Benjamin and that Benjamin be allowed to return home with his brothers. Joseph can no longer control himself. He asks the Egyptians to leave the room and announces to his brothers:

"I am Joseph. Is my father still alive?"

What was so touching in Judah's speech that caused Joseph to stop playing games with his brothers and reveal his true identity? It would seem that Judah of today is not the one who many years ago suggested that they sell their brother Joseph into slavery. He is willing to give his life for Benjamin, who is now Jacob's favorite. Joseph sees a tremendous transformation in his brothers and how their spokesperson is willing to defend Benjamin to the end.

Before revealing himself, Joseph does not want to embarrass his brothers in front of the Egyptians. When he says, "I am your brother Joseph, whom you sold into Egypt," there are no strangers present. Some, in the excitement of doing what they think is right, might ignore the feelings of others. Joseph was sensitive to his brothers' feelings and spared them embarrassment in front of others.

Judah learned his lesson. Many years ago he suggested a way to get rid of Jacob's favorite son. In this Parasha he has learned to overcome his jealousy to the extent that he is willing to become a slave instead of Benjamin.

Shabbat Shalom,

Avram