Judah versus Joseph, Vayigash

Batya Medad ,

לבן ריק
לבן ריק
צילום: ערוץ 7
Batya Medad
New York-born Batya Medad made aliyah with her husband just weeks after their 1970 wedding and has been living in Shiloh since 1981. Political pundit, with a unique perspective, Batya has worked in a variety of professions: teaching, fitness, sales, cooking, public relations, photography and more. She has a B.S. in Journalism, is a licensed English Teacher specializing as a remedial teacher and for a number of years has been studying Tanach (Bible) in Matan. Batya blogs on Shiloh Musings and A Jewish Grandmother. ...

Judah's Eternal Message: Don't Cower! Torah Portion of the Week

This week's Torah Portion of the Week,  Vayigash, And he (Judah) approached..., is an eternal reminder for us:

Bereishit - Genesis - Chapter 44:1חוַיִּגַּשׁ אֵלָיו יְהוּדָה וַיֹּאמֶר 8 Then Judah approached him and said...

This act of Judah, Yehuda, showed his innate leadership quality. By following Judah's progression, the growth of his character from his public admission that he had impregnated his daughter-in-law Tamar and was the father of her twin sons, Peretz and Zerach. And then it was davka Judah's reassurance and pledge that his father Jacob accepted before sending Benjamen with the brothers to Egypt.

Bereishit - Genesis - Chapter 43

8And Judah said to Israel, his father, "Send the lad with me, and we will get up and go, and we will live and not die, both we and you and also our young children.
חוַיֹּאמֶר יְהוּדָה אֶל יִשְׂרָאֵל אָבִיו שִׁלְחָה הַנַּעַר אִתִּי וְנָקוּמָה וְנֵלֵכָה וְנִחְיֶה וְלֹא נָמוּת גַּם אֲנַחְנוּ גַם אַתָּה גַּם טַפֵּנוּ:

9I will guarantee him; from my hand you can demand him. If I do not bring him to you and stand him up before you, I will have sinned against you forever.
טאָנֹכִי אֶעֶרְבֶנּוּ מִיָּדִי תְּבַקְשֶׁנּוּ אִם לֹא הֲבִיאֹתִיו אֵלֶיךָ וְהִצַּגְתִּיו לְפָנֶיךָ וְחָטָאתִי לְךָ כָּל הַיָּמִים:

Judah took his pledge very seriously and understood that he had to take charge. And it was this action that finally broke Joseph's mask and made him admit his true identity.

I want to go back to the birth of Judah, Leah's fourth son.

 Bereishit - Genesis - Chapter 29:35And she conceived again and bore a son, and she said, "This time, I will thank the Lord! Therefore, she named him Judah, and [then] she stopped bearing.
להוַתַּהַר עוֹד וַתֵּלֶד בֵּן וַתֹּאמֶר הַפַּעַם אוֹדֶה אֶת יְהֹוָה עַל כֵּן קָרְאָה שְׁמוֹ יְהוּדָה וַתַּעֲמֹד מִלֶּדֶת:

The Hebrew root of of Judah, Yehuda יהודה comes from "to thank." In the simple interpretation of the verse, it means that she thanked Gd that she had four sons, while at the same time, her sister didn't have any. Chazal, the wise men, say that she knew Jacob would have twelve sons, from four wives/women, and she now had more than a quarter of the sons.

But I'd like to go a bit further. If Leah knew that, then she also knew that the Kingship of the Jewish Nation would have to come from either her son or from one of Rachel's. And therefore when Judah was born, she knew that the kings would be descended from him, and that's why she thanked Gd and called her baby son  Judah, Yehuda יהודה, which also has the name of Gd.

And we do see how Judah did show a kingly confidence, which was trusted and recognized by his father Jacob. And then Judah had no problem confronting the Egyptian leader, Joseph, Rachel's son who buckled under Judah's words. And later on we see them sparring via their descendants, Saul and David.

A true leader doesn't cower.

Gd willing we will soon see one here in Israel, speedily in our day...

Lion of Judah

More Thoughts About "Vayigash," Torah Portion of the Week

It's not that I write about the Parshat Shavua, Torah Portion of the Week every week, so it's a bit unusual that not only did I write before Shabbat, Judah's Eternal Message: Don't Cower! Torah Portion of the Week, but now I'm writing about another aspect of Vayigash.

Torah Tidbits OU

As I read the OU's Torah Tidbits and then the entire text of Vayigash, I became more and more annoyed at Joseph's words and behavior.

Genesis Chapter 45:8And now, you did not send me here, but God, and He made me a father to Pharaoh, a lord over all his household, and a ruler over the entire land of Egypt.
חוְעַתָּ֗ה לֹֽא־אַתֶּ֞ם שְׁלַחְתֶּ֤ם אֹתִי֙ הֵ֔נָּה כִּ֖י הָֽאֱלֹהִ֑ים וַיְשִׂימֵ֨נִי לְאָ֜ב לְפַרְעֹ֗ה וּלְאָדוֹן֙ לְכָל־בֵּית֔וֹ וּמשֵׁ֖ל בְּכָל־אֶ֥רֶץ מִצְרָֽיִם:
9Hasten and go up to my father, and say to him, 'So said your son, Joseph: "God has made me a lord over all the Egyptians. Come down to me, do not tarry.
טמַֽהֲרוּ֘ וַֽעֲל֣וּ אֶל־אָבִי֒ וַֽאֲמַרְתֶּ֣ם אֵלָ֗יו כֹּ֤ה אָמַר֙ בִּנְךָ֣ יוֹסֵ֔ף שָׂמַ֧נִי אֱלֹהִ֛ים לְאָד֖וֹן לְכָל־מִצְרָ֑יִם רְדָ֥ה אֵלַ֖י אַל־תַּֽעֲמֹֽד:

I kept comparing it to the Yehuda-David line of leaders who took responsibility, apologized, did Teshuva, repented. At no point, not in these lines, nor later does Joseph ever admit that his behavior and attitude towards his brothers may have played a large part in their putting him in the pit and their selling him to the traders. He's still bragging by instructing his brothers to tell their father about his great position in Egypt. And does he ever apologize for the awful practical jokes, the tricks he played on them by returning their money and putting his after through even more worry and pain by imprisoning Simon and demanding Benjamin? No, he doesn't.

Joesph just gives this ladidah self-centered response that "it's all Gd's will" and his success is proof of it.

At our Shabbat women's shiur I connected this contrast of Judah and Joseph with the David-Saul (Leah-Rachel) differences in personality, character and leadership. We can see that David inherited so much innate leadership and charisma from Judah. Maybe Leah's "soft eyes" were from her sensitivity to other people's problems. It's impossible to imagine Judah or David playing such hurtful tricks on others as Joseph did, or trying to kill a potential rival the way King Saul persecuted David.

May we be blessed in having a true leader of the Davidic Line, speedily in our days...

Shavua Tov
and Tzom Kal to those fasting on the 10th of Tevet

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