Chazal interpret, L’horos lefanav, “To prepare ahead of him,” with the word l’horos being derived from the word horaah: to teach, to decide halachah. Yehudah was sent to establish a bais horaah she’mishom teitzei Torah, a house of learning, a yeshivah, from which the Torah would emanate. Yehudah was the first Rosh Yeshivah. The question is obvious. Yehudah was the melech, king, monarch of the brothers. True, he was quite proficient erudite, and was undoubtedly a scholar, but Torah erudition and dissemination were not his primary vocations. He was occupied with malchus, kingship. The commentators, each in his inimitable manner, address this question.
We may suggest the following. Horav Nissan Alpert, zl, observes that the word Goshnah (to Goshen) has the same gematria, numerical equivalent, as Moshiach. It is also not by chance that the Jewish residence in Egypt was Goshen. These words stem from hagashah, which means to come near, to bring close, as in the opening words (and title of our parsha) Vayigash eilav Yehudah, “And Yehudah came close.” It was only after this “closeness” was experienced that Yosef revealed his identity. It was only once a mutual affection was established, an open relationship of brotherhood, that a meeting of the minds could take place to confront their past indiscretion. Likewise, it is only when all the Jewish People see themselves as brothers, approaching one another amicably, with the love that brothers have (or should have) for one another, that we will experience the advent of Moshiach Tziddkeinu.
There is, of course, the undesired – but all too frequent – alternative of, “They saw him from afar, and when he had not yet approached them, they conspired toward him to kill him” (ibid 37:18). When we resort to viewing brothers from afar, refusing to establish mutual affection, the worst may occur.
To maintain such harmony we must have strong leadership who is respected and accepted by all. Such leadership is similar to monarchy, with the Torah, which is the Rosh Yeshivah’s primary source of distinction, as the source of his unique wisdom, infusing his personality with a sense of sovereign majesty. As such, he senses an achrayos, responsibility, for his flock; indeed, for all of Klal Yisrael. Yehudah was the perfect mix, being able to meld his monarchial personality with his Torah erudition. I must add that the harmony among Jewish brothers is only sought, and is only possible, when the brothers all accept and adhere to guidelines, ie, Torah, of the same Father.