Parshat Vayigash

Bereishit 44:17-18
But [Joseph] replied, “Far be it from me to act thus! Only he in whose possession the goblet was found shall be my slave; the rest of you go back in peace [wholeness] to your father.”
Then Judah went up to him and said, “Please, my lord, let your servant appeal to my lord …”
What is the irony in Joseph’s statement for the brothers to go back in shalom?
Bereishit Rabbah 92:9
They [the brothers] said to [the viceroy], “Is this peace?! If we do not return with Benjamin it is all darkness for our father!
While on the surface, Judah’s final plea is a humble appeal for grace — that the viceroy not act according to strict justice, but save the brothers’ father from further suffering — the Rabbis see an underlying sense of deep anger. Judah, unlike the other brothers, is able to express this anger, even if subtly.
Bereishit Rabbah 93:8 [Artscroll Kleinman]
[Joseph] said to [Judah], “I see in you that you are a speaker; are there not among your brothers speakers like you? Why are you doing the talking? [since you are not the oldest]” [Judah] answered him, “All this that you see, i.e. the reason that I am doing the speaking, is because I guaranteed [Benjamin]. 
Avivah Zornberg’s translation is significantly different:
“In spite of the fact that there are brothers older than me, they stand outside the relationship, while I feel my bowels cramping [twisting] like a rope.” Joseph asked him, “How?” And Judah replied, “Because I am surety for him.” Joseph said, “If it is a question of silver or gold, I shall give you the amount.” And Judah said, “It is not a matter of silver or gold. For this is what I told Father: ‘I shall be banished in this world and in the world to come.’
Rashi 44:32
For your servant became surety for the lad: Should you ask why I enter into the contest more strongly than my other brothers — then I tell you: I have more to lose; they all stand outside the matter (are less concerned with it than I am), but I have placed myself under a firm bond to be an outcast in both worlds.
Why has Judah bound himself to Benjamin’s and his father’s suffering?
Judah is able to probe what is hidden in the viceroy’s heart — he has the power of kingship that allows him to transform anger into deep psychological insight.
Midrash Tanhuma Yashan, 2
“Then Judah went up to him”: “The designs in a person’s mind are deep waters, but a man of understanding can draw them out” [Proverbs 20:5]. “The designs in a person’s mind are deep waters” refers to Joseph. But as much as Joseph was wise, Judah came and defeated him, as it is said, “Then Judah went up to him.” What does this resemble? A deep pit into which no one could climb down. Then a clever person came and brought a long rope that reached down to the water so he could draw from it. So was Joseph deep, and Judah came to draw from him.
The sense here is that Joseph was lost in his desire for vengeance. Judah, by demonstrating  his binding to Benjamin and Jacob, had, so to speak, created a rope to reach into Joseph’s closed heart.
Avivah Zornberg
The recurrence of the rope image is fascinating. The twisting and folding of the fibers of the rope expresses the complicated, painful involvements by which a Judah gains his power of leadership, his capacity to probe depths and retrieve what was hidden for public use.
The Rabbis are reflecting their understanding of leadership, or in their words, kingship. How would you describe this idea of leadership? Is it different or similar to your understanding of leadership?
Avivah Zornberg
… [the midrash connects] Judah’s moral growth with his experience of the “pain of children.” [the death of his children] His experience of bereavement, the wrenching in the bowels at his own losses, teaches him empathy — belatedly — with Jacob, in his loss. … A peculiar vulnerability is experienced only through parenthood; a pristine arrogance is punctured when one has children, to whom anything can happen. The full contingency of the human condition is known when one’s children are touched by fate. Judah becomes human when his children are born … 
Judah’s experience of his children’s loss and Tamar’s teaching him of responsibility, provides Judah with a moral vision that he previously lacked.
Avivah Zornberg
Precisely because Judah presents himself [in his personal pain] … in the intimate vocabulary that weaves his uniqueness, he moves Joseph to remove his mask. Speaking with all the force of his private experience, Judah evokes the lost wholeness of the family, and stirs Joseph to his own attempt at self-redescription.
Joseph has to create a way of expressing himself to reconnect with his family.