In this parsha we reach the climax of the story of Yosef and his brothers, a story full of intrigue, suspense and unforeseen developments. Brought once again before Yosef, it is Yehuda that portrays his spiritual growth within him as he matures to become the true leader of his brothers. What he did not do when his brothers were planning Yosef’s fate, he now does for the youngest brother, Benyamin. In one of the most moving pleas, he begs that his own life be substituted for that of his brother Benyamin, “so that this child left alone of his mother”, a child of Yakov’s old age, within whom his father’s soul is bound up, should be allowed to return home to his aged father. This is one of the most impassioned pleas of all times and its’ pathos has retained its appeal throughout the ages. None of the other brothers stepped forward, only Yehuda. He alone had the courage to step forward and not keep silent in face of the tragedy that confronted them. Only Yehuda had the courage to stand up for his family; he stood alone. His words do have the desired effect upon Yosef and he finally reveals himself to his brother. “I am Yosef, doth my father yet live?”
We have now reached the climax. Yosef can now demand retribution for the many years of imprisonment and hardship his brothers have inflicted upon him. The moment of sweet revenge is at hand. Instead he is overcome with compassion and cannot withhold his tears, tears of forgiveness, tears of friendship, and brotherly love. To remove their feelings of guilt, Yosef explains to them that it was not them but Hashem who has brought this to happen. Yosef tells them, “I am Yosef your brother whom you sold into Egypt. And now be not grieved nor angry with yourselves that you sold me hither, for Hashem did send me before you to preserve life.” Finally, among weeping and joy, Yakov and Yosef are reunited. Yakov now 130 years old, feels he can now die in peace for he has seen all his sons rise to the occasion.
Maybe this is why American Jews bask in the freedom of our society while other Jews living Israel and Europe are sometimes in peril of their very lives. Maybe this is why we can enjoy the fruits of American plenty while our brothers and sisters elsewhere might not know the meaning of living in peace. Perhaps this is why we exist here in America, the land of the free. To preserve life, to give something of ourselves to our brethren in Israel and elsewhere who rely on us. It could be that this is why we are granted our countless blessings, to save our people who rely on us in their time of need. Yosef, rose to task. May Hashem grant us the courage and ability to do the same.
Equally, in this era of technological advances we enjoy the internet that allows computer operators from all over the world to transfer and receive information while the geographical aspect becomes meaningless. During this period we are inundated with new sites and information. The enemies of western civilization have seized the opportunity to use social media for negative content, to contaminate and try to destroy us.
Today, we have the opportunity to utilize the net for our benefit by searching out the web for the good and looking up Divrei Torah and columns to motivate and help us grow as Bnei Torah and moral, ethical people. There are many sites to choose from to enhance our learning and to counter the negative social media affecting so many young vulnerable minds.
Yosef HaTzadik was an example of this kind of positive innovation when he transformed the Egyptian economy into the superpower of the time. It was his genius in countering the ill effects of Egypt and an incompetent Pharaoh and upper class that needed new ideas and thinking to save Egypt.
This is the call of today, to be innovative and use our minds for Torah and mitzvot and change the world for the better.
Rabbi Gabe Elias