“ויגש אליו יהודה”
“And Judah approached him”
The story of Joseph and the brothers is one of the most powerful stories in the Torah!
About 22 years after the brothers initially sold Joseph to Slavery, the Tables have now completely turned!
In order to fully appreciate this scene, and Judah’s bravery here, we need to understand the context.
Here’s a rundown of everything that happened after Joseph was sold to Slavery:
- Joseph was first sold to Potiphar, where he made significant improvements to Potiphar’s business – to the point that Potiphar allowed him to run all his affairs
- Potiphar’s wife tries to seduce Joseph. Joseph bravely refuses. Potiphar’s wife accuses him of harassment, and Joseph is sent to the Egyptian prison.
- During his 12 years in prison, Joseph builds a reputation as a Dream Solver
- When Pharoah has a disturbing dream, Joseph gets a recommendation from the Minister of Drinks and is rushed to Pharoah
- Joseph successfully solves Pharaoh’s dream, and becomes second in command
- During 7 good years, Egypt saves up resources
- During the 7 years of famine that follow, Jacob is forced to send his sons to purchase food in Egypt
- When the brothers arrive in Egypt, Joseph recognizes his brothers and accuses them of being spies
- Joseph initially puts all the brothers into prison for a couple of days
- Shortly after, Joseph releases all of them except for Shimon (Simeon), and demands that they bring their youngest brother, Binyamin (Benjamin), next time they arrive.
- The brothers return to Jacob with Joseph’s request
- Jacob is heartbroken, and initially refuses to send Benjamin to Egypt
- When the food they purchased on their first trip to Egypt starts running low, the brothers plead with Jacob to allow them to return to Egypt
- Judah assures Jacob that he will take full responsibility for Benjamin’s safety, and seeing the alternative of starvation on the horizon, Jacob finally gives in
- The brothers make a second trip to Egypt
- When the brothers arrive back in Egypt Joseph secretly stashes a silver cup in Benjamin’s sack
- When the silver cup is revealed in Benjamin’s sack, Joseph says that all the brothers may return home, but he demands that Benjamin will remain in Egypt as a Slave
- Now we understand the full context of Judah’s bravery here!
Will the brothers make the same mistake twice and abandon the second son of Rachel in Egypt as a Slave?
Remember: they’re speaking here with the Second in Command of the Egyptian Empire – when the Egyptian Empire was in its prime.
At this point, the Torah uses the word “Vayigash” to describe Yehuda’s next move.
In the Torah, the word “Vayigash”, has three potential meanings:
- Meaning #1: Preparing for battle
- Meaning #2: Preparing to Appease Someone
- Meaning #3: Preparing to Pray
Let’s focus on Meaning #3: Approaching in the name of Prayer.
In Judah’s eyes, this was his moment to present his appeal in front of the viceroy of Egypt.
But, before Judah could approach the Second in Command of the Egyptian Empire, he made his appeal in front of G-d himself.
Judah appeals to G-d before he tries to appeal to man: that G-d should put the right words in his mouth.
The Big Lesson here is that in all situations, no matter how difficult or easy, you should always begin by turning to G-d.
All the decision makers of flesh and blood are ultimately only G-d’s messengers.
After acknowledging the source of everything, why not begin your plea directly in front of the Ultimate Decision Maker?