Reminders Of Love

Like Judah's approach to Joseph, the people of Israel must sometimes remind God of our unique commitment to one another.

Provided by CLAL: The National Jewish Center for Learning and Leadership, a multi-denominational think tank and resource center.

The Joseph story, full of abrupt turns and starts, deceptive intrigues, and dramatic reversals, arrives at its climax with Judah coming forward to address Joseph. Benjamin, who has been caught red-handed with a sacred divining cup, must remain a slave in Egypt. The brothers are given permission to return to their father.

The re-enactment of the sale of Joseph is complete. If they return without Benjamin, the horror will be repeated. If the brothers go home, the covenantal family will no doubt be ripped apart beyond repair. Jacob will die of grief. Joseph will have gambled everything and lost.

Joseph’s Leadership

Paradoxically, it is Joseph’s leadership that enraged them, that catapulted him into power, and that manipulated them into this dangerous situation. Joseph can no longer do anything to save them or the covenant that they share. Now they need a redeemer, a leader who in the midst of confusion and guilt can still speak. "And Judah came forward" (Genesis 44:18).

Judah argues that to punish Benjamin, the beloved child, is to punish Jacob as well. His appeal is emotional and personal. Judah then reverses "Am I my brother’s keeper" through a self-sacrificing act of protection, offering to take Benjamin’s place. Unaware that Joseph is his brother, Judah cuts through the clouds of despair and reminds Joseph of his father’s love.

Levi Yitzchak of Berdichev says that Joseph is like God in this scene and Judah represents Israel. There are times when confusion and pain obscure the mission of the people. But the true leader reminds us and God that we are the beloved chosen children. Although the blows of our erratic history have disoriented us and, at times we deeply misunderstood our role, like Judah, we will be ready for a new reconciliation with God, each other and our destiny.

Discover More

How Jacob Healed His Family

Israel’s third patriarch was born into great dysfunction, but found ways to create the first cohesive family in the Bible.

The Book of Exodus

The book of Exodus tells the tale of Israel's liberation and birth, and of the beginning of God's covenanted nation.

Reading The Prohibition Against Homosexuality In Context

The sexual relationships forbidden by the Torah are intended to prohibit non-Israelite religious practices and abuses of power.

Modern Israel at a Glance

An overview of the Jewish state and its many accomplishments and challenges.

What Do Jews Believe About Jesus?

How Judaism regards the man Christians revere as the messiah.

Converting to Judaism: How to Get Started

How to find an introductory Judaism class.

Israel’s War of Independence

Establishing a new nation and defending it

Judaism and Pets: Questions and Answers

What Jewish tradition says about cats, dogs and other companion animals.