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Friday, December 3

The Weekly Shtikle - Mikeitz

When the brothers return home after their first confrontation with Yosef, Yaakov refuses to let them bring Binyomin back down with them. Reuvein boldly declares (42:37) that both his sons shall be put to death if he does not bring Binyomin back. Despite this impressive expression of dedication, Yaakov refuses to let the brothers return with Binyomin. Later, as the famine grows stronger, the return to Egypt seems imminent. Yehudah proclaims (43:9) that he will take responsibility for Binyomin and that if he does not return him and stand him up in front of Yaakov, then he will have sinned to his father for all of days. Rashi comments that "all of days" refers to the world to come. Yehudah was declaring that if he fails to return Binyomin, his sin shall be everlasting. Yaakov subsequently sent the brothers back down with Binyomin.


From a practical point of view, the reason why Yaakov accepted Yehudah's proposal and not Reuvein's may simply be because time was just running out. Reuvein's offer was presented when the brothers had just returned and could survive without returning to Egypt for a while. Later on, however, there simply was no other alternative.


The Ohr HaChayim, however, offers a comparison of the sincerity of the two offers. Reuvein, in fact, had four sons. He only offered the sacrifice of two of them because he was not willing to lose all his children and be bereft of the mitzvah of procreation. He was willing to sacrifice possessions of this world but not his reward in the world to come. Yaakov sensed this slight insincerity in Reuvein's offer. Yehudah, however, was willing to sacrifice even his portion in the world to come according to Rashi's interpretation. Yaakov, therefore, felt that Yehudah's acceptance of responsibility was sincere enough that he could trust with the life of his youngest son.

Have a good Shabbos and a Chanukah Samei'ach!

Eliezer Bulka

Shtikle Blog Weekly Roundup:
Dikdukian: Be Strong
Dikdukian: Clear the Halls (Chanukah)
Dikdukian: Dikdukei Mikeitz veChanukah by Eliyahu Levin
AstroTorah: The Greek Rosh Chodesh by R' Ari Storch

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