Saturday, December 22, 2012

On Yehuda's Narrative

Two "vertalach" from Vayigash
by Eliezer Zalmanov

1) Yehuda's narrative to free Binyomin from risk of bondage focuses on his father Yaakov, who would be grief-stricken and die were he to see 'כי אין הנער', that the boy is missing.

Why didn't Yehuda argue for the sake of Binyomin, whose name he did not even mention? Binyomin had 10 sons. Why was that issue entirely skirted; When these children would realize their father goes missing, would they be immunized from misery?

Rabbi Menachem Mendel of Kotsk explained: The pain felt by children for a father's anguish is much less than the pain felt by the father for his children's anguish.

Yehuda invoked the potential death of his father to impact on Yosef more seriously than would the somewhat less pain suffered by Binyomin's children.

(Similarly, in our relationship with Hashem; We do not feel nearly the pain for being relegated to a life in exile as much as Hashem, Our Father, feels, so to speak, for us being therein.)

2) At the end of Yehuda's narrative, Yosef cannot restrain himself and breaks out weeping (Gen. 45:1). But why? All Yehuda said was mostly a repeat of that which had been told earlier and which Yosef knows about already. Weeks before when Yosef first laid eyes on Binyomin whom he hadn't seen for 22 years, he could not hold himself back. But now - what was it Yehuda said that suddenly spurred him to tears?

Yehuda mentioned something Yosef knew nothing about until then - the story of how his brothers hid the facts from their father concerning Yosef's disappearance. Until now Yosef reckoned his father had been told the truth, namely, the brothers sold Yosef as a slave. He never knew they dipped his shirt in blood and his father was under the impression that "One has already left me, and I assume he was torn to pieces by wild animals" (44:28).

This is the first time he hears of the trauma that shook his father's composure. Yosef just now realized his father had thought him dead for 22 years. This news broke him.

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