Hearing that Joseph intended to retain Benjamin as his slave, Judah stepped forward to argue with Joseph. Although he spoke respectfully, he told Joseph that he would not tolerate this injustice to his brother – as well as to his father Jacob, who would not survive the loss of the only remaining son of his wife Rachel.
Judah did not hesitate to address Joseph sternly; in fact, he did so right at the start of his appeal. He was aware that when someone's life is on the line, we cannot be diplomatic; rather, we must communicate to those who are listening that we are not participating for any other reason than what is in the best interest of the situation at hand. When it is evident that the issue we are fighting for cuts to the very core of who we are, it will elicit a devout and sympathetic reaction.
Assimilation is a form of "Egypt" that threatens the future "Benjamins," our Jewish offspring. We cannot wait for committees to be established that will carry out extensive research and then decide on what has to be done, how much it will cost, etc. When lives are at risk, we must act swiftly to save them in any way we can.
Judah's efforts turned out to be surprisingly successful: his alleged foe ended up being his greatest partner, and even Pharaoh himself supplied the best means for guaranteeing the unbroken survival of Jewish culture. So it will be when we emulate Judah, exerting ourselves passionately and selflessly on behalf of our children.
May we very soon see the fruits of our labor, with the coming of Moshiach now!
Candle lighting time in NYC: 4:19 PM