Today we learn how the Shevatim go back to get Benyamin, and what happened on the way.
In yesterday’s Chumash, we learned how Yosef accused the brothers of being spies. He said he would only believe them if they brought back Benyamin. In the end of yesterday’s Chumash, he said that they would all sit in jail, and one of them would go get Benyamin. They all sat in jail for three days, and then Yosef gave them a different idea:
Yosef said: “Here’s how you can show me you aren’t spies: I’ll keep one of you here in jail, and the rest of you will go bring your food home, and then come back with your youngest brother. Then I’ll know that you were telling me the truth.”
The Shevatim said to each other, “Do you know why this is happening to us? Do you know why this Mitzri leader isn’t having rachmanus on us? Hashem is doing it because we didn’t have rachmanus on Yosef when we threw him in the pit and sold him, even though he begged us to let him go.”
Reuven saw that this was an important time to help his brothers do teshuvah, so he said, “Didn’t I tell you not to do it? You didn’t listen to me!”
Really, Yosef heard all that they said. (They didn’t know that he understood what they were saying, because there was usually an interpreter there.) Yosef moved away from them and cried because he heard that they felt bad for what they did. But then he came back and continued to act strict. Yosef had the guards tie up Shimon. (He chose Shimon because Shimon was the one who threw him into the pit in the first place, and also so Shimon and Levi wouldn’t be together to come up with ideas to hurt him.)
Yosef had the servants fill up the Shevatim’s bags with grain, and to secretly put back the money they paid. (Yosef also had them fill up Shimon’s bags, and put them on his donkey so his family would have food too.)
The brothers loaded their donkeys and left. After they left, Yosef had the servants untie Shimon and give him food to eat.
When the Shevatim got to an inn, Levi opened his bag to feed his donkey. He saw his money right there! He told his brothers, and they were all very upset. They were sure the Mitzrim put the money back so that they could say the brothers were stealing!
When they came home, they told their father Yaakov all that happened. They told him how the leader was mean to them and called them spies, and how he said they need to bring Benyamin to prove they are telling the truth. Then when they opened their bags to take out the food, ALL of the Shevatim saw their money inside, and Yaakov and the brothers were afraid of what would happen.
Yaakov wasn’t sure that the Shevatim were telling the truth. Because now TWO of his sons were missing — Yosef and Shimon. He said, “Yosef is gone because of you, Shimon is gone because of you, and now you want to take Benyamin too?!”
Reuven said, “I promise you I will bring Benyamin back! I know you are worried about your son, I also have sons! I will even give you their lives as a guarantee that I will bring Benyamin back!”
Yaakov ignored what Reuven said — Reuven’s sons were his own grandchildren, how did it help for their lives to be a guarantee? He said, “You are not responsible! Benyamin can’t go down with you, I don’t want him to travel! His mother and brother died on the way, and I am afraid he will die on the way too! And if you make Benyamin die, then I will not be able to live either!”
Yehuda had some more things to say, but since he saw that Yaakov was so against it, he decided to wait until most of the food ran out, and then to talk to him again.
The food still didn’t grow in the whole Canaan. Once they ate up all the food they brought from Mitzrayim, Yaakov told the Shevatim to go back and buy more. Yehuda said, “The one in charge of the food won’t let us come unless Benyamin comes too! Unless you send him, none of us can go.”
Yaakov asked, “Why did you tell the Mitzri man that you have another brother?!”
The brothers felt that really this was to punish them for selling Yosef, but they didn’t want to tell Yaakov that. So they just told Yaakov exactly what happened. “First he asked us about our families, and if our father is alive. He told us what kind of wood our cribs were made of — and he was right! He asked if we had more brothers. So we had to tell him the truth. How could we have known he would ask us to bring our brother?”
Yehuda tried to convince Yaakov: “If you send Benyamin, maybe something will happen to him, or maybe not. But if we don’t go to buy food, we will ALL die for sure! So let me take Benyamin, and we will go so we can ALL live.”
“I know you are afraid we won’t take care of him. Don’t worry, I will be the one in charge. If chas veshalom I don’t bring him back, I will lose my Olam Haba! Now let’s go already — we’ve spent so much time talking about this, we could have been already back twice, and brought Shimon home so you won’t have to worry about him!”
Yaakov said, “You need to make sure this kind of thing doesn’t happen again. Bring some presents (spices, honey, and nuts) to the leader of Mitzrayim, bring twice as much money for food in case the price went up, and also bring back the money you found — maybe it was a mistake. Take your brother and go.
“Those are all of the things we can do in nature, but we also need to ask Hashem for help. I will daven for all of you. I will also ask Hashem to stop making things so hard for me (I had trouble with Lavan, Esav, Rochel, Dina, Yosef, Shimon, and Benyamin!). I will daven that he let your other brother go free! (Yaakov meant Shimon, but it was a nevuah and he didn’t know it — the “other brother” was Yosef who would “go out” of hiding later!) For me, it will be like I lost Shimon and lost Benyamin until you come back with them.”
So the brothers took the present and double the amount of money, along with Benyamin. They came to Mitzrayim and bowed down in front of Yosef.