December 9, 2021 / 5 Tevet, 5782 • Parshat Vayigash
Issue 696
Dedicated in loving memory of Mrs. Miriam Friedman

How Treat Our Benjamins

In this Parsha we reach the dramatic climax of the chronicle of Joseph. It begins as Yehuda approaches (Vayigash in Hebrew) Joseph in defense of Benjamin. Yehuda’s willingness to save Benjamin convinces Joseph that the brothers have repented and risen above their previous jealousy, so he ends the masquerade and reveals his true identity to them.

Yehuda then approached Joseph

Genesis 44:18

Yehuda did not shy away from speaking harshly with Joseph; moreover, he began his appeal harshly. He knew that when someone’s life is at stake, we must not be diplomatic; our listeners must sense that we are not involved because of ulterior motives, such as political or financial interests. When it is clear that the cause for which we are fighting cuts to the core of our being, it will evoke an honorable and compassionate response.

Today’s “Benjamins,” our Jewish children, are threatened by a different sort

of “Egypt”—that of assimilation. To save these Benjamins, we cannot wait for someone to appoint committees that will conduct lengthy research and then deliberate over what should be done and how much it will cost, etc. When

lives are at stake, we must do whatever we can to save them, immediately.

Yehuda’s efforts proved unexpectedly fruitful: his presumed enemy proved to be his greatest ally, and even Pharaoh himself provided the greatest possible means for securing the uncompromised continuity of Jewish tradition. So it

will be when we follow Yehuda’s example, selflessly and vigorously exerting ourselves on behalf of our children.

—from Daily Wisdom #1