Interview with Rav Binyamin Jacob’s
Q: We were wondering if you could help us understand your brother Yosaif’s actions.
Binyamin: I love my brother very much, and would be glad to help set the record straight.
Q. Are biggest problem is the revenge issue. Doesn’t the Torah specifically prohibit taking revenge? Yet Yosaif deceives his brothers, accuses them of spying, and imprisons Shimon.
Binyamin: There is no question that revenge was the last thing on Yosaif’s mind. For that, who needs deceit? It would have been much sweeter just to say who he was and punish them.
Q. So why all of the theatrics?
Binyamin: To put them into the same situation as they were when they sold him. This would give them the opportunity to do real Tshuva. (Alshich)
Q. How was the situation the same? When your brothers sold Yosaif, they were certain they were dealing with a bad person. When they defended you for stealing Yosaif’s goblet, you were clearly innocent!
Binyamin: Not quite. I actually went to great length’s to appear guilty. When Menashe found the goblet in my bag, they actually beat me and called me “Thief, son of a thief), for my mother had stolen the idols from Lavan. (Midrash Rabbah)
Q. Why didn’t you declare your innocence?!
Binyamin: Because Yosaif had revealed himself to me at the palace and asked me to play along. (Sefer Hayashar)
Q. Even so, you lacked a motive for stealing a goblet.
Binyamin: I had a great motive. They thought I wanted to use the goblet to find Yosaif. After all, I cared about Yosaif so much that I named all ten of my children in his memory. (Midrash Rabbah)
Q. How would the silver goblet help?
Binyamin: At the dinner in the palace, Yosaif pretended it was a magic goblet, revealing hidden things to him. For example, he picked it up, smelled it, and said, “My magic goblet tells me that Yehuda is a king and should sit at the head of the table, and Reuvain is the first-born and should sit next to him.” He likewise revealed many things about the brothers that an Egyptian viceroy could not have known. (Midrash Rabbah)
Q. So it was only natural that you would want the goblet to reveal to you what happened to Yosaif.
Binyamin: They now had to defend a thief whose sole goal was to find Yosaif. They now used their regret for having sold Yosaif as a motivation for getting it right this time around. When we learn from our mistakes, and actually use them to strengthen our resolve to improve; that is the very essence of Tshuva.
Have a great Shabbos