Written by: Rabbi Mordechai Raizman
In this week’s Torah portion, Vayigash, Rashi (a well-known commentator) shares two perspectives regarding how Yehuda spoke to Joseph when trying to save his brother Benjamin after being falsely accused of stealing the silver cup. In one viewpoint Rashi maintains that Yehuda takes a strong stance when speaking with Joseph. The question is raised why one would risk taking a strong stance when dealing with one’s brother’s life. Instead, would it not be wiser to adopt a more conciliatory tone to secure one’s brother’s release?
The answer given is a powerful one. Yehuda promised his father to bring his brother home safely. He assumed the responsibility of his brother’s safety. His behavior when speaking to Joseph reflects his commitment to that responsibility. Yehuda’s actions provide a wonderful lesson for all of us. They illustrate that true responsibility creates ownership and with that comes a sense of urgency to react with a greater passion to accomplish one’s goals.