The following is a brief summary of some of thoughts said over by R' Frand on the parsha this evening. I have attempted to reproduce these vorts to the best of my ability. Any perceived inconsistency is the result of my efforts to transcribe the shiur and should not be attributed to R' Frand.
In Bereishis 44:31, Yehuda tells Yosef that if Yehuda did not return Binyamin to Ya'akov, it would kill Ya'akov. This statement seems to convince Yosef that he must let Binyamin go and leads to Yosef's unmasking of himself.
R' Frand asked - how is it that Yehuda knew that this was true? Yehuda would not have said this to Yosef if it was untrue, but how did he know that if Binyamin was not returned, it would be the death of Ya'akov?
R' Frand answered this question by quoting the Sfas Emes who observed that people are driven to work because they have a goal of building and supporting their families. But the Avos had a greater vision and wanted to build Klal Yisrael and they were willing to do whatever was necessary to build it.
Ya'akov had a very difficult life, but was able to accept it and get through it, because he knew it was part of building Klal Yisrael. But he knew when he spoke with Yehuda about bringing Binyamin down to Egypt that it would be the end of his troubles. He even expressed this to Yehuda in Bereishis 43:14 when he used the term Kel Shakai - which Rashi explains based on the Medrash was Ya'akov's way of telling Yehuda that Hashem has said that with this, Ya'akov will have had "enough" troubles.
If Ya'akov who had survived running from his house, living with Lavan, seeing his daughter taken and son "slain" and then said that this would be "enough" for his troubles, then Yehuda knew that Ya'akov actually was saying (sans melodrama) that Ya'akov would die if Binyamin did not get back.
The Sfas Emes then applied this reasoning to the age old question - after Yosef became the viceroy in Egypy, why didn't Yosef send a message back to Ya'akov that he was still alive? He explained that Yosef knew that Ya'akov's mission was to go through all these troubles and that they came from Hashem for a reason. So I wont be the one who changes things and tells Ya'akov that I am alive.
The Sfas Emes then applies this to later in the parsha where Yosef and Binyamin embrace and cry (Bereishis 45:14). Rashi explains that Yosef cried because he saw that two Batei Mikdash which would be in Binyamin's land would be destroyed. But why was that Yosef's vision when he hugged his brother for the first time in more than 22 years?
The Sfas Emes answers the question by citing to the language in Bereishis 45:1 where it says that Yosef revealed himself because he could not hold back. This implies that if Yosef could have held back, then he would have done so. But was Yosef a sadist? No, but Yosef realized that the brothers had to go through this suffering in order to save the Jewish people from other worse troubles which would have come upon them. Yosef knew this and that all the problems would pay dividends and the Jews would be saved. Yosef could not hold back any longer - but if he could, then the Beis Hamikdash would not have been destroyed and the Jews would not have been sent into exile. This was why Yosef cried - because he knew that if he had been able to hold back, the Jews would have been saved from future troubles, including the destruction of the Batei Mikdash.
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