וַיִּגַּשׁ אֵלָיו יְהוּדָה
Then Judah came near to him (Genesis 44:18)
The Midrash Rabbah (Genesis 93) says: This refers to the verse (Ecclesiastes 7:19): "Wisdom strengthens the wise more than ten rulers who are in the city" (הַחָכְמָה תָּעֹז לֶחָכָם מֵעֲשָׂרָה שַׁלִּיטִים אֲשֶׁר הָיוּ בָּעִיר). As soon as he saw signs of Judah's anger, Joseph kicked his throne and it collapsed into a heap of pebbles. Judah tried to take out his sword from its sheath, but he could not do so. Judah said this one must be one who fears Heaven.
The connection between strength and wisdom is difficult to understand. And our master explained to us in the name of his father (R. Avraham Glasner, 1826-78), the gaon of blessed memory, that, after seeing signs that Judah was enraged, and hearing himself assaulted with words like those that Hazal attribute to Judah ("for you are like Pharaoh, just as Pharaoh decrees but does not fulfill" and "I will kill you and your master"), Joseph the righteous should have responded to him with the anger of a king, or the angel of death. For how could Judah have presumed in his heart to vilify him in his own house while he was sitting on his throne? But Joseph, in his great humility and wisdom, did not respond in kind, and endured insult and abuse until Joseph felt as if he were sitting on a pile of pebbles. And because Joseph silently listened to this insult and abuse, the anger of Judah abated. For how could anyone remain angry after seeing that the king, sitting on his throne, was quietly enduring his own humiliation and became mute. In his wisdom, Joseph thereby overcame his brothers who, according to the tradition of Hazal, had risen up together to destroy the entire city.
ולא יכלו אחיו לענות אותו כי נבהלו
But his brothers could not answer him, for they were
dismayed at his presence (Genesis 45:3)
But his brothers could not answer him, for they were dismayed at his presence (Genesis 45:3)
In the Midrash it is written: אבא כהן ברדלא said, "Joseph was the smallest of the children of Jacob, but his brothers could not answer him "for they were dismayed at his presence" (כִּי נִבְהֲלוּ מִפָּנָיו). When the Holy One Blessed Be He comes to reprove each of us as it is written (Psalms 50:21) "But I will rebuke you and set the matter before your eyes" (אוֹכִיחֲךָ וְאֶעֶרְכָה לְעֵינֶיךָ) how much more so will we be unable to answer because we shall be dismayed at His presence."
And it appears to our master that the most severe rebuke occurs when a person recognizes the greatness of G-d and reflects on His loftiness. For then he will quickly become ashamed and will run away to hide, because he will ask himself how a creature of dust and ashes created from the ground could dare to sin against the Lord of all creatures, the King of kings, the Holy One Blessed Be He. It will then not even be necessary to enumerate his sins to him as part of his rebuke. We see such rebuke when Joseph made himself known to his brothers and said, "I am Joseph." They were looking at him face to face, but then they had to hang their heads in shame, and could offer not a word in reply, because they were dismayed at his presence. אבא כהן ברדלא therefore deduced that when the Holy One Blessed Be He will come in all His honor and splendor and glory and will properly reprove each person - which means that He will reveal Himself to each person so that he will be able to recognize the greatness of the Blessed One - when He does so, each person will rebuke himself, as it is written, "I shall rebuke thee," because "I shall set" My honor and My glory "before your eyes." And with this you will be rebuked.
אַל תִּרְגְּזוּ בַּדָּרֶךְ
Do not quarrel on the way (Genesis 45:24)
Rashi comments: "Do not occupy yourselves in halakhic discussions." Another explanation is: "Do not take long steps, but instead enter the town where you will spend the night while the sun is still shining."
And our master explains this symbolically (דרך רמז), based on the saying of Hazal that one should always incite the good inclination (יצר הטוב) against the evil inclination (יצר הרע). If the good inclination prevails, it is well. And if not, one should lead the evil inclination to the house of study. And if the good inclination has still not prevailed, one should recite the shema. And if the good inclination has still not prevailed, one should remind himself of the day of death. Now each of these methods for subduing the evil inclination is best used under different circumstances, because their properties are not identical. For example, studying Torah will not help one to overcome an angry disposition, because the study of Torah tends to arouse one's anger, as the Sages said, "the Torah is what is boiling within him" (אורייתא היא דמרתחא ביה). Similarly one who has a melancholy disposition will obviously become more depressed by thinking about his own demise. However, reciting the shema will distract a person from his worries, will remove jealousy, and will cause anger to be forgotten, because kriat shema will arouse a person to fear G-d and to accept whatever may befall him with love and resignation in accordance with G-d's will.
It is written above that Joseph said to his brothers (Id. 45:5): "Now therefore be not distressed, or angry with yourselves because you sold me here: for G-d sent me before you to preserve life" (וְעַתָּה אַל תֵּעָצְבוּ וְאַל יִחַר בְּעֵינֵיכֶם כִּי מְכַרְתֶּם אֹתִי הֵנָּה כִּי לְמִחְיָה שְׁלָחַנִי אֱלֹקִים לִפְנֵיכֶם). This seems amazing, for anger and sadness are conflicting emotions. And it seems to our master that this accords with those commentators that suggest that Joseph was unsure whether his brothers had yet conceded that he was worthy of ruling over them because he now occupied a greatly superior position to theirs and because he was the son of Rachel, the principal of the house (עקרת הבית) to whom leadership was befitting. If this was what they were thinking, then they were likely to be very remorseful that they had sold him into slavery. On the other hand, Joseph thought that they still might not accept his right to rule over them, in which case their anger would be intensified, because by selling him into slavery, they themselves had brought it about that he achieved greatness and had become the ruler of Egypt. Joseph also thought that some brothers might hold the first opinion and be remorseful while others held the second opinion and be angry. He therefore said, "be not grieved, nor angry with yourselves." Addressing those who might be sad, he said, "to preserve life" (כִּי לְמִחְיָה), indicating that what they had done turned out to be for their own benefit, so that they had no reason to be grieved. And addressing those that might be angry, he said "G-d did send me," so that the honor that Joseph achieved was the result of G-d's will. And who can contest G-d?
Now the Torah is called a "way" (דֶּרֶךְ), because, as the Sages say (קידושין דף ב ע"ב), it is written (Exodus 18:20) "and you shall make known to them the way in which they shall go" (וְהוֹדַעְתָּ לָהֶם אֶת הַדֶּרֶךְ יֵלְכוּ בָהּ). Death is also called "דֶּרֶךְ" as it is written (Joshua 23:14) "behold I am going the way of all the land" (וְהִנֵּה אָנֹכִי הוֹלֵךְ הַיּוֹם בְּדֶרֶךְ כָּל הָאָרֶץ). But the sun symbolizes the fear of G-d, as they say, "they shall fear you with the sun," for the sun, when it sets, bows down to its Master. This is what Joseph meant when he said to them. "Do not quarrel on the way" (אַל תִּרְגְּזוּ בַּדָּרֶךְ). He meant to say, "do not provoke your evil inclination with "דֶּרֶךְ" - neither by studying Torah, nor by thinking about the day of death, which are both called "בַּדָּרֶךְ". For neither one is an effective antidote either to anger or to melancholy. When Rashi commented on this verse "do not occupy yourselves with halakhic discussions," he was referring to Torah. And when Rashi commented "do not take long steps," he was referring to recalling the day of death - i.e., today here and tomorrow in the grave. Instead "enter the town where you will spend the night while the sun is still shining" which means: recite the Shema, which will arouse the fear of G-d within you as symbolized by the sun which sets in the evening as a greeting to its Master. So you should enter the city before dark and recite the Shema, and you shall be happy and it will be well with you.