Our Brothers' Cry - Who Answers the Call?


Jerusalem, Israel
HaRav Yehuda Kroizer SHLIT"A, Rosh Yeshiva

9 Tevet 5767/29-30 December 2006


Sensing that his brother Binyamin was in danger, Yehuda immediately went into action, with a fire burning inside his heart. Yehuda approached Josef and said: Please, my lord, may your servant speak a word in my lord’s ears, and may your anger not flare up at your servant - for you are like Pharaoh.”

Our rabbis teach us that at this point Yehuda was prepared to even give up his own life in order to save his brother Binyamin. In fact, he prepared himself in three ways: through prayers, appeasement of Josef, or warfare – i.e., to kill or be killed.

Yehuda’s fury was aroused at the false accusation aimed at Binyamin. Some say his eyes were dripping with blood and some say that the chest hairs over his heart stiffened and pierced all five layers of his garments. He would take iron bars into his mouth and grind them to dust with his teeth. "Do you not know", cried Yehuda, "that two of us destroyed the big city of Shechem? We did it for the sake of our sister, we certainly will do the same for Binyamin who is called 'beloved to Hashem'".

As Yehuda’s rage reached its climax, he said: "I have only to draw my sword, and I will fill all of Egypt up with dead bodies." He called to Naftali to count the number of districts in Egypt. Naftali returned and reported that there are twelve districts in the country. "Good", said Yehuda, "I will wipe out three of them and you all will be responsible for one each. Thus we will make sure that not one person remains alive in Egypt!"

So great was Yehuda’s self-sacrifice for his brother, that he was willing to do all in order to save him. This was the fire burning inside Yehuda, and this has been the fire burning inside Jews throughout the generations, from time immemorial. It is the fire of seeing the truth, no matter what, and not standing by your brothers blood. It is the fire of the alternate sacrifice for the Jewish people.

Asher Weisgan z"l, who passed away this week in his cell in prison, was a Jew whose heart was also on fire. Asher, convicted of killing four Arab workers last August in a futile attempt to stop the disengagement from Gaza, was sentenced this past September to four terms of life imprisonment. People came from near and far to eulogize Asher and to comfort his widow and two children.

Not all were in favor of Asher’s deed or methods, but all spoke about the great fire inside him that he had for the Jewish people and the dangers that he foresaw just down the road for the Nation, dangers which unfortunately we are living in today. People spoke of his big heart that he had for his fellow Jews, that whenever someone needed a helping hand, Asher would be there for them, no matter whether day or night. At his conviction, the judges quoted his explanation for why he committed the murders: "I wanted to save the Nation of Israel from the disengagement".

The fire, started by the sale of Josef by his brothers, was a fire of hatred, and now - as Yehuda stands before the Egyptian king pleading for his brother - it is a fire of love. A fire burning so strong inside of him - and us - that will cause us to stop at nothing to proclaim that we are our brothers' keepers!

With love of Israel,
Levi Chazen

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