Foremost among the many impressive facets of Yehudah’s speech is its refreshingly straightforward core, “The viceroy said we have to bring Binyamin, therefore we will not go without him.” Lest this seem the only obvious way out, let me illustrate a different scenario more in keeping with the stories surrounding it.
Yehudah says to his father, “I have a plan. The viceroy has no idea what our brother looks like. Let’s find someone about the same age that looks vaguely like our family. (Don’t forget that coming from four different mothers, there was already a great variety in the brothers’ looks; and that Binyamin was supposed to be the only living child from his mother, such that he was not expected to look too much like any of the others.) That way you will be happy and the viceroy will never know the difference!”
After all, Yosef’s supposed death was built upon this type of trick, as was the charade that Yosef was now perpetrating upon the brothers. In both cases, identities were hidden in order to negotiate complex situations. This was, in fact, a legacy that stretched all the way to Avraham. When seeing no other way out, he pretended Sarah was his sister. Twice! He even passed this strategy on to Yitzchak. And though Ya’akov may only have learned about deception from his mother, he seems to have adopted it as his own in the house of Lavan. To read more at the Jewish Press, click here.