"When Joseph saw Benjamin with them, he said to the overseer of his household, 'Bring these men to the palace. Slaughter an animal and prepare it. These men will be eating lunch with me". (Gen. 43:16)

Why does the Torah make such a fuss about the meal that Joseph served his brothers?

...when Esau’s angel (the "stranger") touched Jacob’s hip socket, he struck at all of Jacob’s descendants...

The Midrash explains that when Esau’s angel (the "stranger") touched Jacob’s hip socket, he struck at all of Jacob’s descendants, referring to all the suffering and persecutions that the children of Jacob would endure at the hands of the children of Esau. But despite their horrible suffering, and deep wounds, they would prevail.

One of the consequences of Jacob’s wound was the selling of Joseph into slavery by his own brothers. How was it possible that such great men, the tribes and children of Jacob, forbearers of the entire Jewish nation, should stoop to petty jealousy, driving them to first want to kill their own brother and then settle on selling him as slave?

Jacob’s eleven sons saw Joseph as a formidable threat to fulfilling the Divine purpose of life. Judah was designated to be the leader. His descendants – the House of David – were given kingship. When the brothers heard that Joseph dreamt that he would be their leader, they saw this as mutiny against the Divinely ordained leadership of Judah. They foresaw the split that the children of Joseph would create in their mutiny against the house of David, the Kingdom of Israel that would break away from the Kingdom of Judah. To preempt this tragedy they felt that Joseph’s mutiny deserved death.

Judah...embodies faith and humility...

Why is Judah the appropriate leader and not Joseph? Judah (from the word ‘hodaah,’ "acknowledgment") embodies faith and humility: the single most important ingredient in a true leader. He does not see himself as great, only as transparent channel of a Higher Will completely dedicated to serving his people. His ego and personality do not stand in the way between the people and G‑d. Without absolute faith, humility and selflessness, leadership and the power that it wields is just plain dangerous.

Chassidic thought applies this to our personal lives: Judah is action and implementation (ma'aseh), Joseph is scholarship and knowledge. Joseph’s great virtue, as his name implies, is the power of growth through wisdom and scholarship. But for all its strengths, scholarship without humility, knowledge without action, reason without faith, leads to arrogance and ultimately can become destructive. An absolute commitment to truth is built upon the unwavering foundation of faith.

Thus, Jacob’s children saw Joseph’s dreams of grandeur as a threat to the Divine plan.

However, they were mistaken. Joseph’s leadership was a necessary prerequisite to Judah’s kingship. Joseph, representing scholarship, is necessary before we can merit the humility of Judah. In a perfect world Judah is the leader (Moshiach son of David), but while we still live in an imperfect world, where there is a dichotomy between matter and spirit (Esau and Jacob), ignorant faith can be even more dangerous. The passion of absolute faith without knowledge, humility without the direction of wisdom, action without first studying, can become misguided and misdirected, to the point of harming others in the name of ignorant faith. Thus, the need for Joseph’s leadership, to temper and balance the passion of Judah: Wisdom to direct and guide one’s actions, knowledge to channel the power of faith. Joseph’s leadership (Moshiach son of Joseph) prepares and refines the world for the ultimate leadership of Judah (as related in the haftorah of the Vayigash portion).

This dichotomy between knowledge (Joseph) and implementation (Judah), between scholarship and faith, is reflected in Esau’s guardian angel displacing Jacob’s hip socket. The hip connects the higher part of the body with the lower part. When the angel displaced Jacob’s hip he severed the connection between mind and action.

The entire encounter of Joseph and his brothers is all about reconnecting the two forces of Joseph and Judah. So, when Joseph saw his brothers return with Benjamin he immediately ordered lunch to be served. " Slaughter an animal and prepare it. These men will be eating lunch with me." The Talmud explains (Chulin 91a) that Joseph’s instruction "prepare it" meant to "remove the displaced (sciatic) nerve (gid hanashe) in front of them." Joseph was making a point that his brothers see how the meat was being prepared for them in way that they could eat it, fulfilling the mitzvah of gid hanasha, not to eat "the displaced nerve on the hip joint to this very day because he touched Jacob’s thigh on the displaced nerve". (Genesis 32:33)

Joseph was reminding them about the schism caused by Esau’s angel, which was also the root of Joseph and his brothers' battle.

Joseph, as a good son of his father Jacob, recognized the wound that has ruptured his relationship with his brothers. He therefore prepared a meal with his brothers to remind them of the work that needs to be done to heal the injured hip, connection the higher from then lower.

When the brothers realized what was happening they became frightened.

When the brothers realized what was happening they became frightened. They began to understand their grave error (as they later acknowledge "G‑d has uncovered our old sin" – 44:16) in selling Joseph; how it was another terrible expression of the split between faith and reason (Judah and Joseph).

Yet another manifestation of the displaced hip is when the Greeks defiled the Holy temple and the pure olive oil used to kindle the menorah (as mentioned above: Esau’s angel affected Jacob’s descendants in all generations). The 16th century sage and mystic, the Shelah, explains that the words "kaf yereicho" (the upper joint of Jacob’s hip) is connected to Chanukah: The word "Yereicho" is also used to describe the base of the menorah. (Exodus 25:31) "Kaf" (chof, peh) reversed is the word "pach" (cruse), referring to the cruse of pure oil discovered on Chanukah.

The Shelah explains that Chanukah helps repair the wound caused by Esau’s angel. The cruse of pure oil ("pach"), which represents the pure essence of the soul, transforms the dislocated hip ("kaf"); kindling the menorah with pure oil, reconnects the "base" of our beings – our actions (Judah) – with our branches and higher faculties (Joseph).

Another Midrash takes this a step further: G‑d said to Jacob, "In the merit of endangering yourself for a small jar, I will repay your children with a small jar to the Hasmoneans". (Tzeidah LaDerech)

Because Jacob returned for the "small jars" of oil that remain pure, and in doing so battles Esau’s angel all night long, Jacob’s children are repaid 1431 hundred years later with finding pure oil in exactly the same holy place where Jacob found oil the morning following his dream!