Why was it Yehudah who stepped forward to plead with Yosef to save Binyamin?
(44,18) “And Yehudah approached him and said: Please, my lord,…”
The cantillation notes on these first six words is קדמא ואזלא רביעי זרקא מונח סגול.
Behold, above in parshas Mikeitz (43:9) Yehudah said to his father, Ya'akov “If I do not bring him to you and stand him up before you, I will have sinned against you forever”. And it says in the Midrash, “I will have sinned against you forever” - for the world to come.
This is what is hinted to with these six notes: קדמא ואזלא רביעי (preceded and went, the fourth) - why did Yehudah, the fourth son of Ya'akov, step foward and approach Yosef? It is more logical that Reuven, the firstborn, should have been the one to involve himself with saving Binyamin. Thus the notes continue to explain זרקא מונח סגול (he threw, resting, treasure) - because Yehudah threw himself from resting amongst the treasured people, by cutting himself off from the world to come if he did not bring Binyamin back to his father. Therefore, he was the one who got involved, and not one of the other brothers.
How could Yosef make the same mistake as his father, and create jealousy amongst the brothers?
(45,22) “He gave to all of them, to each man changes of clothing, and to Binyamin he gave three hundred silver and five changes of clothing”
The gemora Megillah 16a asks: Is it possible that in the very thing from which that Tzaddik (Ya'akov) suffered, (his offspring) should stumble? Because Rava bar Mechasia said in the name of Rav Chama bar Guria in the name of Rav: Due to the weight of two sela of fine wool that Ya'akov added to Yosef more than the other brothers, our forefathers went down to Egypt. Rav Binyamin bar Yefes answered: Yosef was hinting to Binyamin that there was destined to come from him a son who will go out from before the king with five raiments of royalty, as it says in Megillas Esther 8:15 “and Mordechai went out from before the king with royal raiment, blue and white and a huge golden crown and a wrap of linen and purple”.
But still the question remains, that by doing so Yosef was creating jealousy between the brothers! However, we should really question how the gemora was able to ask in the first place that Yosef was repeating the same mistake of his father. Because perhaps the five changes of clothing of Binyamin were of inferior quality than those of his brothers, such that his five changes of clothing were equal in value to those of his brothers. But we would have to answer that this cannot be, because if they were inferior and thus equal in value, then for what possible reason would Yosef do this? Therefore, it must be that they were the same quality as his brothers, and so now it makes sense that the gemora should ask “Is is possible...”.
But the gemora answers that in fact the clothing of Binyamin was indeed inferior to those of his brothers, and so they all received equal value, and thus Yosef did not repeat his father’s mistake and cause jealousy amongst the brothers. And the reason why Yosef should do such a thing, was in order to hint to him about the future.
What is remarkable about the number of sons and grandsons of the two Matriarchs and their handmaids?
(46,18) “These are the sons of Zilpah…sixteen souls.”
Behold, from the Torah’s enumeration of the seventy souls that went down to Egypt, we see that the sons (and grandsons) of the Matriarchs, Rochel and Leah, were double the number of the handmaids, Bilhah and Zilpah. And each mistress had twice the number of sons as her handmaid.
Because the sons of Leah numbered thirty-two (except Yocheved completed the number of seventy souls, according to the Rabbis, and so brought the number of Leah’s children to thrity-three. But according to the Zohar, Ya’akov himself completed the number of seventy souls. See the Baalei Tosafos). And the sons of Zilpah, her handmaid, were half this amount, that is, sixteen. The sons of Rochel were numbered fourteen, and the sons of Bilhah, her handmaid, were seven. (Presumably, there is a hidden secret here that the Gaon does not wish to reveal to us.)