It is one of the most dramatic moments in the entire Torah — the final showdown between Joseph and his brothers.
At first Judah delivers a powerful and impassioned plea for clemency on behalf of his brother Benjamin, invoking the pain it would cause his elderly father Jacob if Benjamin did not return.
Suddenly, to the astonishment of his brothers, Joseph reveals himself by saying: “I am Joseph; is my father still alive?”
The commentaries find this Joseph’s statement cryptic and inexplicable, particularly the question “is my father still alive?” His brothers had confirmed that Jacob was alive many times, and Judah had based his whole plea for Benjamin’s freedom on the effect Benjamin’s continued incarceration would have on Jacob.
To explain Joseph’s curious choice of words, Rabbi Dunner introduces the commentary of Rabbi Joseph Dov Soloveitchik (1820-1892), scion of the famous Soloveitchik rabbinic dynasty, who delivers a forceful message based on this episode.