The Weekly Sedra – Parshas Vayigash

The Rebbe says:

1. This week’s Torah portion starts off and says that Yehuda (Judah- one of the Twelve Tribes) approached his brother Yosef (Joseph- another one of the Twelve Tribes) to discuss the issue of forcing Binyamin (Benjamin- the youngest of the Twelve Tribes) to remain in Egypt.

The Midrash Rabah tells us that when Yehuda approached Yosef he was ready for anything, even war.

Why did Yehuda take such a firm stance for his brother Binyamin and not any of the other Twelve Tribes? Because Yehuda had promised his father Yakov (Jacob) earlier on that he would be responsible for Binyamin, as the Torah continues this story and quotes Yehuda telling Yoseph, “Because your servant has assumed responsibility for the boy”.

2. The Rebbe now asks a question:

What was Yehuda thinking? Yoseph was the ruler of Egypt and he had the power of the entire Egyptian army behind him. Yehuda and his brothers numbered eleven! How did Yehuda think he would win a war against Yoseph if it would come down to that?

3. The Rebbe now negates a possible answer:

The Midrash Rabah tells us that Yehuda and the other Tribes were so strong that when they stamped their feet on the floor the whole Egypt shook! This being the case, we might want to answer that since Yehuda and the other brothers were so strong they would be able to take on the entire Egyptian force if need be. As we see, only two of the brothers, Shimon and Levi, destroyed the entire city of Shechem.

However, this answer is not good because Yoseph was also just as mighty, and even mightier, then the other brothers. As the Midrash Rabah continues and tells us that when Yoseph alone stamped his feet on the ground the whole Egypt shook and Yehuda admitted that “he is stronger then me”.
We are now back to our question; what was Yehuda thinking when he approached Yoseph ready for war?

4. The Rebbe now answers the question:

As we said earlier, Yehuda had taken responsibility for Binyamin. Therefore, even though logically it didn’t make sense for Yehuda to wage war against Yoseph to insure the safety of one Jewish child, he was ready to do it. Even though there would be ten other brothers left, Yehuda was ready to give his life up for one Jewish child.

5. The Rebbe now tells us the lesson we must learn from this story:

As we have said many times, the Torah is not a history book; it is a guidebook which lights up the way of life for us with its endless lessons.

The lesson that we must learn from this story is that Hashem has put the responsibility onto every single Jewish mother and father to bring up their children and educate them in the best Jewish way possible and therefore parents must sacrifice everything to make sure that their children actually receive the necessary Jewish education.

And when we have this Mesiras Nefesh (sacrifice) for our children’s education, the end of the this week’s Torah portion will also come to fruition, “They were fertile, and their population increased very rapidly”.

Translated and adapted by Rabbi Shalom Goldberg. Taken from Likutei Sichos volume one, first Sicha.

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