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.