1.Can we tell by reading this Torah portion if the brothers repented for what they did? Who was the first person in scripture to repent? What does true repentance look like? 

In Judaism it is taught that Judah was the first true repentant based on this meeting between himself and Joseph. As history unfolds we see G-d’s blessing on Judah. He became the ancestor of King David and Jews today carry his name.

This Torah portion begins with Judah coming to Joseph and whispering in his ear. He pleads with Joseph to allow Benjamin to return to his father and offers himself in place of Benjamin as a slave. Think back to how all this began with Judah being the one to suggest selling Joseph into slavery. So what moves Joseph when he hears Judah’s plea? In it he sees real repentance. Judah has come to the place of dealing with his past sin. He could have left Benjamin since he had done it before. But here he faces his actions and does not repeat his mistake from the past, but gives himself to save his brother. This moves Joseph for he sees that Judah has changed. He is different than the man who suggested selling Joseph into slavery. Now he would be the slave to help his brother. 

So it is with us, true repentance means being sorry for our past sins and then resolving to change our life and not continue down the same path. This is what happens in our life when we have sinned before G-d and man. We acknowledge our sin, express remorse and choose to not go back to it again.

2.As we continue to read of the saga of Joseph and his brothers it is clear that Joseph forgave his brothers for selling him into slavery. What key verses help us understand how Joseph was able to do this? Why is this important to us as we face times when other people hurt us? 

In Genesis 45:4-8 it says, “Then Joseph said to his brothers, “Come close to me. ”When they had done so, he said, “I am your brother Joseph, the one you sold into Egypt! And now, do not be distressed and do not be angry with yourselves for selling me here, because it was to save lives that God sent me ahead of you. For two years now there has been famine in the land, and for the next five years there will be no plowing and reaping. But God sent me ahead of you to preserve for you a remnant on earth and to save your lives by a great deliverance. So then, it was not you who sent me here, but God. He made me father to Pharaoh, lord of his entire household and ruler of all Egypt.” 

Joseph was able to see and understand that his life was in the hands of G-d. What his brothers had meant for harm to him G-d used for good, not only for Joseph but also for his family.  He was able to look at the bigger picture of what G-d was doing in his life instead of becoming bitter and focusing on how his brothers had hurt him. We too can remember that G-d’s hand is in everything and go to Him when we have been hurt to search for His truth on what has happened to us.

3.In this Torah portion the brothers were forced to bring Benjamin with them to Egypt or they would get no more food. In Genesis 42:38 and Genesis 44:27-31 we see the struggle Jacob was going through to let his youngest son leave his side and go to Egypt with his other sons. He struggled to let Benjamin out of his sight probably because of the trauma of losing Joseph.  A point to ponder: Is there anything in your life you are holding on to too tightly? Is there anyone or anything that you do not trust G-d enough to let go and allow G-d to take care of or fix?