Noahide Seven Commandments Torah classes
© 2017 by Rabbi Zvi Aviner
Class BLASPHEMY-6/Judah opposing Joseph: who prevails?
There is a congregation: ten brothers standing in repentance
There is already a nucleus of a nation: ten brothers who seek to include their lost one.
They are qualified now to chant with the seventy angels “Holy, Holy, Holy, the world is filled with His Glory…”
Thereby sanctifying His Name TO EACH OTHER, in public.
But to constitute a congregation, a public, the ten brothers need a leader, a representor, who would present them to Heavens, to the KING.
Who would this leader-representor be?
Would it be Judah? Joseph? What’s the difference?
On that, it is said:
“And Judah walked up to him (to Joseph) and said
Please, your highness, let me say something to you personally
And do not be angry with me, since you are just like Pharaoh” (Genesis 44: 18)
Two sorts of leadership
In this monumental confrontation, Judah faces Joseph whom he perceives as his mortal enemy.
Symbolically, and very meaningfully, Judah faces the Egyptian vice, while his brothers stand behind him, supporting him.
While Joseph sits on the throne, Pharaoh’s power is looming behind him, and his brothers facing him.
This picture says it all. Let’s elaborate.
1: Judah, the eternal guarantor
No one chose Judah as a speaker. Early in the story, when Jacob refused to send Benjamin with them to Egypt, despite the increasing hunger, it was Judah who stepped forwards FROM AMONG HIS BROTHERS and said to his father:
“And Judah said to Israel his father
Please send the boy (Benjamin) with me
And let us set out and go, let’s live and not die
We, you, and also our children, I myself will grantee him,
from my hands you can demand him...” (Genesis 42:8-9)
Here, as Rashi explains, the ‘guarantor’ stands for a PERSONAL PLEDGE. The guarantor would pay the debt personally, without bothering with the borrower.
Judah pledges to be such a personal guarantor. He would pay by his own body for any loss.
Historically, Judah’s pledge has been fulfilled. All Jews today are basically descendants of Judah (and Levi) besides many converts. The rest of Israel’s tribes were exiled and lost from history. Judah took over as a guarantor to his father, Jacob-Israel.
Judah’s leadership comes from a deep commitment, based on a voluntary move to save his brothers. Judah is ready to surrender himself to the Egyptian vice, in luau of his brother Benjamin, or any other brother.
And his self-sacrifice, we remember, caries YHVH Name 3 times, (perhaps hinting to three descendants: David, Isaiah, and the Messiah, the future son of David.)
Implication to prayer
If the ten repenting brothers constitute a “holy congregation,”
Then their ‘representor’ to G-d is Judah,
His face forwards
His brothers behind him
As the Jewish Law (halachah) requires from any praying congregation.
2: Joseph, the savior sent by ELKM
Opposite Judah stands Joseph, who perceives himself, quite correctly, as his brother’s savior appointed by ELKM, as he says when he reveals his identity to them:
“And Joseph told his brothers:
Please come close to me and they came close.
And he said: I am Joseph your brother, whom you have sold to Egypt
And now do not worry and do not feel guilty for selling me,
because ELKM has sent me ahead of you to save lives” (43:4-6)
“And ELKM has sent me ahead of you, to ensure that you survive” (43:7)
“Now it is not you that sent me here, but ELKM
And he appointed me as a father to Pharaoh and a master to all his household…” (43: 8-10)
Let’s pay attention to the order of his words.
First he asks his brothers to ‘get closer.’ Some say: to show them that he was circumcised, or to speak to them in private.
But the fact is that he was facing them. Unlike Judah, who stepped forwards in front of them, and they supported him behind.
Judah was their representor,
Joseph was their savior sent from above.
Judah volunteered, Joseph saw himself chosen to be a savior.
Moreover, Joseph saw himself, first of all, a person who had been chosen to save ALL LIVES, of all peoples, of all nations. He was sent to feed the entire world.
Judah had no such pretentions. His only agenda was to protect and vouch for his brothers.
In contrast, in Joseph’s words, saving his brothers came on as a second issue. He would save the world, and ALSO his family.
Thirdly, in his words Joseph saw himself, as the last point, the person whom ELKM, the King of Kings, had chosen to rule even over Pharaoh.
Judah would not aspire to rule over gentiles, never, ever.
Judah would never build Empires, big armies, spread the knowledge of YHVH by the sword.
Few Jewish kings who aspired to do this have met a fierce resistance from the rabbis.
Implication to prayers
Again, if the ten brothers constituted the first praying congregation
Then Joseph leadership represents a LEADER of the congregation
Who faces the congregation and leads them in prayer
Rather than standing ahead of them facing G-d.
Classically, Jewish congregations have always followed Judah’s sort of leadership
Where the leader is actually a representor of the people who support him behind.
All the above should help Noahides in setting up their own congregations, choosing the proper way for them to stand before G-d in prayer.
4: Who prevails?
Between these two modes of leadership, of Judah and Joseph, which one has prevailed?
In the story, Joseph prevailed.
YHVH names appears in his story 8 times, compared to Judah’s 3 times. Joseph sanctified G-d Name more than Judah.
He carried YHVH and ELKM Names on his lips,
He was ready to give up his position and life rather than violating ADULTERY,
He taught Pharaoh the name of ELKM, the enter story of Genesis,
And he taught the Egyptians the Seven Commandments,
He even told the Egyptians to circumcise,
And he acknowledged the KING who decides (On Rosh Hashanah) the fate of countries as well as individuals,
And he acknowledged the power of the King of King who had placed him over Pharaoh.
What a great sanctification of G-d name his whole life was!
No wonder that Jacob-Israel bowed before him as his deathbed.
But on the long run, it was Judah who has prevailed.
It was his mode of leadership that has led Israel throughout centuries.
It is the Messiah the son of Judah that we are all waiting for him to come.
For that, we need to procced in our classes and move to the Prophet Bilaam and his speaking, she donkey.
And what a fascinating that story is.
It is the greatest story ever told!
The story of the tiny sodomite, holy spark
That has turned into the greatest flame of faith!
The END OF BLASPHEMY CLASS 6