“And Judah he sent before him to show him the way to Goshen” Genesis 46:28


VThe awkwardness of engaging with those with whom we do not share a like mind and vision is among the greatest challenges of humanity. Most of us simply avoid doing so and surround ourselves with people who think as we do. Ironically, this proves most challenging with family.

We can choose our friends, but not our family, whose worldview can differ from ours significantly. It can be greatly discomforting knowing that someone who shares our genes can be so different and those most like us socially and emotionally are often not related.

Yet, learning to value another person’s unique strengths and weaknesses broadens and deepens our own sense of self in the world and connects us to the magnificent diversity of Creation. It also liberates us from the confines of a reality existing entirely in our own minds.

In Vayigash, Judah comes to espouse this ideal. We see him defending his younger brother Benjamin for his father’s sake. It was Judah who sold Joseph. In fact, Judah did not get on well with his family in general. He saw his father and brother Joseph as dreamers, lacking pragmatism, and felt he could not fully invest in his other brothers. After selling Joseph, he left the family, married a local woman and set out alone.

But he changed. Time away and hardships taught him to be more open with those in his life who were not like him. He became more sensitive to life’s intricacies and came to understand that humans are complex and fallible beings. He grasped the importance of being open to the differences we encounter in others.

That change of commitment was no small act — it secured his future. He  went on to merit fathering Israel’s royal family, and his tribe, along with that of the younger brother he pledged to protect, would be the only tribes of Israel that would survive history.

His father responded to his newfound tolerance by sending Judah as his representative to work with Joseph and prepare Goshen for the family’s arrival.

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