This week we witness a momentous reunion of two brothers, Joseph and Judah. Judah boldly pleads for the life of Benjamin and the sake of his father's well-being. Through this event, we witness not only redemption and restoration for that moment in time, but a prophetic vision of the future for all Jewry through the traits and attributes of these two men.
The Zohar states on this passage of Torah:
"The approach of Judah to Joseph was like the approach of one world to another, uniting one with the other so that all would become like one. Because Judah who was king and Joseph, a king, came close to one another . . . As a result of their closeness, for they came together as one, many benefits were caused for the world: it caused peace for all of the tribes and peace among [the brothers, and it caused the [prophetic] spirit [of Jacob] to be reestablished, as it says, then the spirit of their father Jacob was revived." (B'Reisheet 45:7)
This passage not only deals with the world in that instance of time, but also reaches into the future. To get a better glimpse of how this passage is far reaching, it is important to understand the qualities of Joseph and Judah that make this unifying moment possible. Joseph represents higher wisdom and had a special connection to Hashem. We see in the previous parasha that he was a dreamer; he had a prophetic connection and was not only able to dream, but to interpret dreams of others. The dreaming, as his father had done in his younger years, showed that he was a true spiritual heir of Jacob. The coat he received from his father most likely was not given merely out of favoritism, but was a gift revealing Jacob's keen insight into Joseph's spiritual nature. His garb was to match that which was hidden within, and foreshadowed an even greater mantle in days to come.
As Joseph matures, his tendency towards his private spirituality becomes more visible. This is seen when he refuses the great temptation of Potiphar's wife. In this case, Hashem alone witnesses Joseph's repulsion toward adultery and his denial of pleasure. He displays his spirituality quietly, waiting for the prophecies to be fulfilled before revealing his identity. Joseph, according to the Midrash, is considered a harvester. He waits patiently until his crop matures in the spiritual realm and then takes only what is necessary and uses it fully for the sake of Heaven.
In contrast, upon examining Judah through the preceding parashiyot, we see that he grows into a more innately regal nature. He is very forthright in his actions; when the situation regarding his transgression comes to light with Tamar, he publicly states his wrongdoing and does what is right. The midrash considers him a plower. His nature softens those around him, as a plower does to the earth in order for it to receive seeds. In his approach to Joseph, we see that the very nature of Judah was the key to the revelation of Joseph's identity. His very nature brings about revelation and unity, much like the desire of a king.
Returning then to the passage from the Zohar, we see that passage of Harvester and Plower coming together brings together not only two kings, but the very presence or spirit of G-d and the fervent desire for redemption and unity. This happening was by no means coincidental but critical for the future of Israel in order to give hope for the Messianic reign. The meeting of the Harvester and Plower represents that last moment foreshadowed to come when Messiah ben David, our Messiah Yeshua, returns to finalize the salvation he procured long ago, as Joseph did for all Israel, with final redemption and restoration. This will bring about the revivification of Israel and the Messianic Age.
As we view our Messiah, we see both traits of Joseph and Judah intermingled and separated through epochs of time - waiting to be brought together in the end of days. Messiah Yeshua displayed the traits of Joseph in his dealings with the talmidim and the people around him. He did not want his identity to become known lest it interfere with the course of events which needed to take place in their proper order - much like Joseph did with his brothers.
The Talmud speaks of two messiahs, or two aspects of Messiah. The Messiah modeled as the son of Joseph will be killed and his people will mourn over him (Succah 52a). The second Messiah is modeled after Judah to rule as a mighty king. Messiah ben Joseph and Messiah ben David are the dual aspects of messianic reality expressed in two comings, bracketing the messianic age. We see from the life of our Messiah Yeshua that he mirrors the concept of Messiah ben Joseph in his first coming. We tarry to see him fulfill his role as Messiah ben David when he comes again. However, we do have the promise from Messiah Yeshua and from the prophets that when Messiah does return, we will witness the kingly traits and the establishment of his reign as seen in the Messiah ben David - our model of Judah.
If midrash implies that redemption from our latest exile is foretold in the Egyptian experience, how is it that we will bring about the final Messianic Age? As we have witnessed the revelation of Joseph's true identity, it is apparent that for Joseph, redemption and restoration are finely tuned and orchestrated events. In the case of Joseph's interaction with his brothers, instead of revealing himself immediately he waits for the full harvest of their restitution to be complete. Had he chosen to reveal his nature and identity any sooner, his brothers might not have been worthy of redemption. In the same way, we as the people of Israel perhaps have not reached the place that necessitates the final redemption. Just as Joseph's brothers were at first unified only because they were against him, they ultimately needed to prove they were unified without him, before Joseph made himself fully known. There is some merit to this thought; for if all Israel truly had the love that these brothers showed upon learning Joseph's identity, indeed our final redemption might indeed have arrived as it did for them so long ago.
As messianic Jews, we have a higher calling than to merely wait for Yeshua ben David to show up on the scene. We are in part that bridge to Messiah ben David, a movement which seeks to pull forth the identity of Messiah ben Joseph and bring him to our people in an effort that brings unity. We are but forbears of his identity to Israel so that our mishpachah would know that not only is Yeshua real as Messiah, but one of our own (just as Joseph was to his own family).
Our people today are in very much the same position as Jacob. Jacob is Israel who struggles and does not know of his son's sacrifice and position - even among the nations. Our people mourn the loss of a temple, like the loss of a son, and the current distance and exile of the presence of G-d. The news that we need to run home with, like the brothers did to Jacob, is of a loving servant of Hashem, the one who longs for redemption and is the true spirit of unity and restoration among his people. For as Jacob received the news and was revived spiritually, how much more will Israel be revived spiritually when she learns of her Messiah and walks in unity. Our people need to see Yeshua as not only the Harvester, who has waited diligently for his time to come and waited for his people to come into their fullness, but also as the Plower - one who will unite one with the other so that all would become like one and make Hashem's name one. Our call is to infuse our walk with both metaphors so as to bring both images of Messiah Yeshua into focus so that we may all reap in the time of our final redemption.
"Behold, the days come, saith the L-rd, that the plowman shall overtake the reaper, and the treader of grapes him that soweth seed; and the mountains shall drop sweet wine, and all the hills shall melt. And I will turn the captivity of My people Israel, and they shall build the waste cities, and inhabit them; and they shall plant vineyards, and drink the wine thereof; they shall also make gardens, and eat the fruit of them. And I will plant them upon their land, and they shall no more be plucked up out of their land which I have given them, saith the L-rd thy G-d." (Amos 9:13-15)