In the year 2964 – 797 b.c.e, following the death of Shlomo Hamelech, the nation was divided between Rechavam ben Shlomo and Yiravam ben Nivat. Rechavam ruled over Yehudah and Binyamin, and Yiravam ruled over the other 10 Tribes. Rechavam was a direct descendant of Dovid Hamelech, and Yiravam was a descendent of Ephrayim. In this week’s Haftorah, Yichezkel Hanavi prophesied the time when the divided kingdom’s of Yehudah and Yisroel would unite beneath the single banner of the family of King David.
The connection to our Parsha is obvious. Our Parsha begins with a confrontation between Yehuda and Yoseph. Both were destined to be Kings over the Jewish people. However, Yoseph’s reign was limited to necessity and circumstance while Yehuda’s would be as eternal as the Jews themselves.
It is important to note that the close relationship between Yehuda and Binyamin, even though they were not from the same mothers, was maintained throughout history. It gives additional meaning to the Rashi on pasuk 40:14 that explains why Yoseph and Binyamin cried for each other at the time of their reunion. Rashi explains that the tears were for the eventual destruction of the Mishkan and the Bais Hamikdash. In truth, the removal of Hashem’s presence from our midst occurs when there is hatred and divisiveness. The Tribe of Binyamin should have been closest to Ephrayim and Menashe. Instead, the division of the Land placed Yehudah closest to Binyamin, allowing for a singular unity between the two tribes that would allow them to share the actual structure of the Bais Hamikdash. It was as if Hashem was telling us that Yehuda’s willingness to sacrifice for Binyamin at the beginning of Parshas Vayigash is the kind of unity that will maintain Hashem’s presence in our midst.
The coming of Mashiach can only happen when a divided nation reunites. May it happen soon, and in our life times!