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.
Crisis Mode
וַיִּגַּשׁ אֵלָיו יְהוּדָה וגו': (בראשית מד:יח)
Judah then approached [Joseph]. Genesis 44:18

Judah did not shy away from speaking harshly with Joseph; moreover, he began his appeal harshly. He knew that when someone’s life is at stake, we must not be diplomatic; our listeners must sense that we are not involved because of ulterior motives, such as political or financial interests. When it is clear that the cause for which we are fighting cuts to the core of our being, it will evoke an honorable and compassionate response.

Today’s “Benjamins,” our Jewish children, are threatened by a different sort of “Egypt” – that of assimilation. To save these Benjamins, we cannot wait for someone to appoint committees that will conduct lengthy research and then deliberate over what should be done and how much it will cost, etc. When lives are at stake, we must do whatever we can to save them, immediately.

Judah’s efforts proved unexpectedly fruitful: his presumed enemy proved to be his greatest ally, and even Pharaoh himself provided the greatest possible means for securing the uncompromised continuity of Jewish tradition. So it will be when we follow Judah’s example, selflessly and vigorously exerting ourselves on behalf of our children.1