In Parashat Miketz (Genesis 43:9) it is written: I will be surety for him; of my hand shalt thou require him; if I bring him not unto thee, and set him before thee, then let me bear the blame for ever. ( אָנֹכִי, אֶעֶרְבֶנּוּ--מִיָּדִי, תְּבַקְשֶׁנּוּ: אִם-לֹא הֲבִיאֹתִיו אֵלֶיךָ וְהִצַּגְתִּיו לְפָנֶיךָ, וְחָטָאתִי לְךָ כָּל-הַיָּמִים. ) Regarding Yehuda's request to take Benjamin down to Egypt. How does Yehuda commit to the commitment that does not depend on him? After all, the circumstances could mean that he would not be able to keep his promise to his father, and so it turned out (as actually happened) that he would not keep his word? And how did Jacob accept Judah's guarantee only and not all the other tribes. Especially since Yehuda is already known to have failed in his commitment to his bride Tamar?

  • 3
    Especially since Yehuda is already known to have failed in his commitment to his bride Tamar? Wait, what?
    – shmosel
    Dec 12, 2023 at 8:17
  • 1
    Do you mean his commitment to marry his third son to his daughter-in-law?
    – shmosel
    Dec 12, 2023 at 10:31

1 Answer 1


According to Rabbeinu Bachaye it was a spiritual commitment:

אנכי אערבנו מידי תבקשנו וגו' וחטאתי לך כל הימים. בעוה"ז, כלומר אהיה קרוי חוטא כל הימים להיות חלקי עם החוטאים, כגון גוזל אבותיו שנאמר (משלי כ״ח:כ״ד) גוזל אביו ואמו ואמר אין פשע.

אנכי אערבנו מידי תבקשנו...וחטאתי לך כל הימים, “I will guarantee him, from me you can demand him;....or I will have sinned against you for all the days.” He meant that as long as he would live on earth he would consider himself as having sinned against his father. Solomon describes someone who steals from his parents as being a thief (although he stands to inherit his parents’ property) — compare Proverbs 25:24. Such a person is described there as a sinner against his parents.

Radak helps to explain this further:

וחטאתי, אחשוב עצמי לפניך כחטא ומנודה כל הימים ומכאן למדו רז"ל מנודה על תנאי אפילו מעצמו צריך הפרה, מנלן מיהודה דכתיב אם לא הביאותיו וגו' וכל ארבעים שנה היה עצמותיו מגולגלים בארון בעון זה עד שבקש משה עליהם רחמים, דכתיב וזאת ליהודה (דברים ל"ג ו'):

וחטאתי לך - Yehudah did not really man that if he did not bring Binyamin back this would automatically be a sin in the objective meaning of the word. He meant that he would consider himself as a sinner against his father forever in the unlikely event that this would happen. He would guarantee his brother’s return under such conditions. These considerations prompted our sages in Makkos 11b to characterise Yehudah as placing himself in the position of a conditional outcast, מנודה, they derive the halachah that someone who places himself in such a state requires the court to annul his conditional vow, status. Needless to say, that ostracising oneself from the Jewish community even conditionally is forbidden, and we have a tradition that the bones inside Yehudah’s coffin were rattling for the entire 40 years the Jewish people carried the coffins of the 12 founding leaders of the tribes with them through the desert. This stopped only at the request of Moses who asked mercy for Yehudah in his final blessing in Devarim 33:7, וזאת 'ליהודה וגו

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .