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Moral Courage

VaYigash (Genesis 44:18)

I am the HaShem, your G-d, who took you out of the land of Egypt ... Trust G-d and emulate Him.

When we think of strong and courageous people we sometimes miss the strongest and the most courageous - these are the people who are prepared to put morality first. The truth is, we are often presented with opportunities that call on us to be morally courageous. Normally the window of opportunity only lasts for a few seconds. It's in those moments that great people take a step higher.

In this week's Parsha Yehuda is faced with just such a moment. Joseph, who had been betrayed by his brothers was testing them to see if they could act differently. He pretended not to recognize his brothers and falsely accused Benjamin of stealing his goblet with the punishment that he would take him as a slave. Would Yehuda, who had guaranteed Benjamins return to their father Yaacov, walk away or fearlessly fulfill his promise? He stepped forward and spoke up. As soon as Joseph saw this, he revealed himself.

We are called Jews because of Yehuda. The tribe of Yehuda, more than any other, survived the onslaughts of exile and hence we became known as Judah, Jud, Jew. There is no coincidence here. Precisely, because Yehuda took moral courage, he survived. The same is true for us.

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