I couldn't help but wonder how my neighbors would take to the six-foot menorah that adorned my front lawn. Especially Dave. From the beginning he'd never been too fond of us, the cars that overflowed from our driveway and sometimes into his (big mistake!), or the commotion our home occasionally breeds.

It all came to a head one night when, despite our warnings, a guest unknowingly parked in his driveway. We were all sitting around the table when Dave came storming through our front door shouting, "Get off my property! Go back to your country! We gave you your own land in 1947"—he apparently hasn't gotten Israel's history down pat—"go to your country!"

We were quite shaken up, and after that explosion, a cold war ensued. Although we saw each other every day, we ignored each other entirely.

We pulled into our driveway just when Dave was standing in his...In the early days of December we respectively prepared our homes for the holidays. He set up his annual nativity scene as we propped up our menorah and screwed in the light bulbs that rest on top. My voice of insecurity whispered: perhaps if we were more low-key, he'd be less hostile? Is our conspicuous Jewish pride fueling his anti-Semitism? On the other hand, why should I compromise my identity as a Jew to appease his racist rage?

And then, this past Sunday evening we pulled into our driveway just when Dave was standing in his. Our menorah triggered off the following conversation:

"Hi!" he said to my husband.

"Hi!" he returned

"Going to be a big holiday?"

"I hope so!"

"Happy holiday..."

The thick drama of Joseph's interrogation of his brothers spans several chapters of the Book of Genesis. After accusing them of being spies, and then thieves, Joseph holds the youngest brother Benjamin as hostage. The brothers are entirely exasperated.

"And Judah approached [Joseph]..." Judah had tried to reason and negotiate with the viceroy of Egypt—to no avail. He needed his brother Benjamin back and he was ready to do whatever it would take to secure his freedom.

And Judah approached! All of Egypt shook from the intensity of his conviction. Negotiations were over as Judah demanded justice with utmost assertion.

"Take everyone away from me!" Joseph called out. The room cleared and only Joseph and his brothers remained.

"I am Joseph!" he wept.

Joseph's façade came tumbling down, and he was no longer the villain but the hero. Joseph invited his father, his brothers and their families to come live in Egypt, providing them with safety and abundance.

But it all started with Judah—"And Judah approached him." Judah didn't know that it was in fact Joseph that he was approaching; to him it was the ruler of Egypt. And yet he was completely confident, not intimidated by his authority. What chutzpa!

Thanks to Judah's confidence and chutzpa, Joseph stripped away his mask and exposed his true identity. When approaching Joseph, Judah actually tore through a spiritual barrier that was repressing their liberties and dominance and unleashed a force that would work to create a comfortable environment for the Jewish nation to begin its new home.

Our people are now acknowledged and even respected; we no longer have to live on the defenseThe Rebbe compares this shift in stature that the brothers experienced, from intimidated to influential, to the natural progression that has been unfolding for Jewry ever since we were expelled from our homeland, Israel, two thousand years ago. We've lived dispersed throughout the world and all too often our host countries have denied us our basic liberties and made us feel unwelcome as Jews. Naturally, we looked to protect ourselves by trying to stay low key and not make any major social or religious waves amongst the indigenous crowd. Our survival instinct adopted an attitude of discrete religiosity and even a slight inferiority complex. Even so, we were persecuted.

But now, as the world evolves into a more messianic climate, the Jewish people are acknowledged and even respected and we no longer have to live on the defense. To the contrary, we have so much to share with the world—Jew and gentile alike. We have an important message to carry about the innate goodness of humankind and G‑d's intimate love for His creation. Every Jew becomes Judah who can approach the world around us with honesty, moral conviction and self-confidence.

And sometimes a little self-confidence reveals that Pharaoh's minister is really Joseph in disguise.1