My youngest son has been begging us to buy him a skateboard for a good month now. We're not sure where he got this idea from, since none of his friends have one, but it's something he needs. It even got to the point that any money he might make, he saved in a special plastic box, so he can buy one himself. Last I checked, he was up to 1.20 shekels.
On Chanukah, we have different "programs" for each night. One night is "gift night," where you get a gift for answering any of my tough Chanukah questions. Each child has their own collection that they get. Don't worry, usually it's one bigger gift and the rest are things that they need, up until and including, yes, socks and underwear.
We have a fun time over it and everybody enjoys it, so that's what matters.
This year, as we were getting set up, my son ran outside and sat by the menorahs with a Tehillim in hand, davening that he should get a skateboard. Not bad for a second-grader. Especially one who has World Domination on his list of "things to do."
To his great thanks, he was provided with a skateboard 30 minutes later. Unfortunately for him, one minute after he received his skateboard, his 1.4 year old sister decided that it was going to be hers.
"Then Yehudah went up to him and said, “Please, my lord, let your servant appeal to my lord" (Bereishis 44: 18).
In the first pasuk of this week's parsha we see the beginning of a … quarrel, for the lack of a better word, between two kingships within the Jewish people, between Yehudah and Yosef.
For years, Yosef was the de facto leader of Egypt, and in turn, most of the world. While there was no leader who stood out amongst Yaakov's sons, when Yehudah stood up to Yosef to save Binyomin, the other brothers saw clearly that he was their leader. That later being confirmed by Yaakov himself, when he blessed Yehudah with kingship.
And as we know, much of Jewish history was formed from these two kings. After Shlomo HaMelech's reign, the nation was divided by two kings, one from Yehuda and one from Ephraim (Yosef's son), and this continued up until the first Exile.
Rav Shimshon Pincus explains that these two kingships represent two forms of serving Hashem.
Yosef was called "Yosef HaTzaddik" for it was he who suffered trials and tribulations, beginning with his being sold and brought to Egypt, living in Egypt without any physical or spiritual support of his family, withstanding the wife of Potifar, living in prison for many years, and eventually running the country, while maintaining his spiritual level. In the end, through his efforts, he supported Egypt and most of the world. Not surprisingly, we see another tzaddik mentioned in the Torah: Noah. He too went through trials and tribulations, and for months supporting his own "world" encased in an ark.
Yehudah, on the other hand, did not go through such trials. When he came to live in Egypt, he came with his entire family and extended family. They continued to live together, separate from the rest of Egyptian society. Yet, we see a hint of Yehudah's power in what he said to Yosef: "Bi Adoni." We commonly translate this whole line as, "Please, my lord, let your servant …," but with a close look at the words "Bi Adoni," we see another hidden message, when translated directly: "Within me is Hashem (Adoni)." And later, when Yehudah moves to Egypt, Yaakov sends him first, to make sure that a place of learning was set up before their arrival.
There are two aspects of a Jew that are represented by Yosef and Yehudah.
Yosef represents the aspect of maintaining, if not growing, one's spiritual self, despite all the trials that he goes through. We have seen this time after time, when whole communities had to leave one country and move to another. Even with a constant upheaval of Jewish life throughout the last 2000 years of exile, the Jewish nation has continued to keep Torah and Mitzvos, despite everything thrown at it. This is Yosef.
Yehudah represents the "inner Jew," the "Within me is Hashem." The aspect is shown most (and this is my own take) during calmer times of our history, when we are sitting in comfort in exile. While we are not being persecuted or feeling alone, we still have to maintain that "inner Jew" in all aspects of life: whether with our family, in our business dealings, in our learning, or in our relationships with others. Even without external pressures, we need to "internalize Hashem," if you will, keeping Him close to heart. This is Yehudah.
As we see, these two aspects are not opposites, but rather each aspect becomes "activated" according to the situation a person, or the nation, is in. And by using these aspects, we are ultimately using the power of two forms of Kingship.
As a note, and this is just an idea, but perhaps this will explain why Yehudah's reign was promised to last forever (via Dovid HaMelech). Sometimes it is easier to grow when under stress, but the mark of a true Torah Jew is so internal, it could be found even without external pressures. Just an idea.
Have a wonderful Shabbos!