shiur for parashas Vayigash 5782
Joseph, as an Egyptian prince, had arranged a scenario, whereby he was able to take Benjamin captive. He told his servant to place his silver cup in Benjamin’s pack on his donkey. Then, when the brothers were leaving, the servant overtook them, searched their packs, and “found” the cup. “The man in whose hand the cup was found, he shall be my servant” (Genesis 44: 17). Joseph arranged for this “test” to see if the brothers would stand up in defense of Benjamin. Indeed, Judah took the lead in stating his intent to replace Benjamin as a servant to the Egyptian prince (Joseph). “Judah approached him and said, O L-RD, let your servant speak; I beg you, let your servant remain instead of the lad” (Genesis 44: 18-33).
When Judah approached the Egyptian Prince (Joseph) to make an appeal for the sake of Benjamin, he offered himself as a slave unknowingly to the very one whom he had sold as a slave twenty-two years prior to this moment. Joseph was so moved by his self-negation on behalf of Benjamin, that he could no longer contain his emotions. Although his brothers had sold him into slavery so long ago, it was clear to him at this point in the test that they had done teshuvah (repentance) over their transgression against him.
Joseph requested all of his Egyptian servants to leave his presence so that he would be alone with his brothers when revealing himself to them: “And he wept aloud; and, Joseph said to his brothers, I am Joseph” (Genesis 45: 2-3). “G-d sent me before you to give you a remnant on the earth, and to save you alive for a great deliverance” (Genesis 45: 7, JPS 1917 Tanach). Joseph knew that all that had happened to him was ultimately for the good: despite the circumstances of each situation wherein he suffered, he had persevered and saw G-d’s hand at work.