VAYIGASH : and he came close…
Last week’s Parsha the story stopped where Yosef said he is keeping Binyamin as a slave. The brothers offered to all be slaves, but Yosef rejects that idea, saying he wants to only keep Binyamin. At this point, Yehuda comes closer to Yosef and begins a whole dialogue trying to get Binyamin freed.
Alshich: We know Yehuda is angry at this point. Why was Yehuda angry at Yosef? When tragedy happens, we always have to search into our own soul and see if it fits our crimes, if what is happening is from Hashem as pay-back for wrong we have done. Yehuda realized the brothers were guilty of selling Yosef into slavery and maybe they all deserve being slaves. But when he saw Yosef only wanted Binyamin and not to make slaves of the guilty parties, he knew this is not punishment by Hashem, but rather unwarranted provocation – and, therefore, he became angry at Yosef.
Mishlei: words dispel anger. Yehuda goes into a whole shpiel here, trying to get Yosef to not be angry at the brothers and to want to free Binyamin. Try talking things out. It works many times.
Yehuda says he cannot go back to his father with the boy not with him. The meforshim [commentators] point out that should be our attitude – how can we face our Father, Hashem, if we don’t have our fellow Jews with us, if we don’t do all in our power to help another Jew come closer to Hashem.
Vayeegash — first Yehuda comes close. Before going into any tantrums or war-mode, first always try ‘vayeegash’ to be someone who tries to come close to an adversary. Try reason, try talking it out – and try to explain your needs and viewpoint.
So, we understand what Yehuda is doing here. The question is, what is Yosef doing?! Why is he putting his brothers through such emotional turmoil? Yosef was testing his brothers- – would they let another son of Rachel be sold into slavery. When he saw that they were willing to trade their own freedom and let Binyamin go free and safe, he then decided it was time to reveal himself to them.
Perek Mem-Hay, first verse: Yosef throws out everyone from the room. Rashi: he did not want to have the Egyptians see his brother’s humiliation. We have to make sure, even when we have to rebuke someone, it should NOT be done B’farhesya – we should do it privately and not cause a public disgrace to the person.
Verse Gimmel/3: “and Yosef said to his brothers, ‘I am Yosef, is my father still alive?’ and his brothers could not answer him because they were in turmoil in front of him.”
We are taught about this passuk, “Oiy lanu l’yom hadin” woe is to us for the Day of Judgment – when Yosef said anee Yosef, the brothers had nothing to say in their defense. When Hashem will say Anee Hashem, we will not know where to bury ourselves from the shame. How does this work? In this world, we spend our time rationalizing. When we die and face Hashem all rationalizations will be showed to be false with the Anee Hashem words. Here the brothers say they cannot go back to Yaakov with Binyamin gone because it will kill Yaakov. So Yosef says, “Ani Yosef, Ha’od Avi Chay – where were those considerations when you were selling me – is my father still alive, even though you sold me?” We tell Hashem, we can’t be that careful about our eating Kosher because we don’t have that kind of self-control and we’ll look funny to our colleagues if we don’t partake of even a salad. But then, you decide to go on some new-fangled diet, and suddenly you can have control and suddenly you are not embarrassed to tell folks, “I can’t/don’t eat that.” So when the Day of Judgment comes, Hashem will say Ani Hashem, for your own whims and mishigasen you were able to have backbone and not when it comes to doing G-d’s will?!
May we all have the wisdom to never indulge in wrong rationalizations which will be shown to be inconsistent with our own conduct. Who wants to be that embarrassed and ashamed in front of our Creator when we finally “meet Him” on Judgement Day?!