by Zvi Akiva Fleisher
Back to this week's Parsha| Previous Issues
PARSHAS VA'Y'CHI 5760 BS"D
Ch. 47, v. 28,29: "Va'y'chi Yaakov, Va'yik'r'vu y'mei Yisroel lomus" - Why the name change from verse 48 to verse 49? The gemara Bovo Basro 116a says that when a person dies and leaves behind a son who is his equal, the term "misoh," death, is not used. If however, he does not leave over a son who is his equal, the term "misoh" may be used. The names Yaakov and Yisroel connote two different levels of our Patriarch Yaakov. The name Yisroel refers to a higher level than the name Yaakov. On the level of Yaakov we have an equal; Yoseif to whom was transmitted by his father everything that was taught to him in the Yeshiva of Eiver (See Rashi on 37:3). However, on the level of Yisroel no equal was left. In verse 48 the Torah tells us that Yaakov lived, as he left behind Yoseif. In verse 49 the Torah tells us that only the level of Yisroel was about to die, as there was no equal surviving him. (Ksav Sofer)
Ch. 47, v. 29: "Al noh sik'b'reini b'Mitzroyim" - Rashi (M.R. 96:5) tells us that Yaakov wanted to avoid three difficulties which he would endure if his body were to be left in Egypt:
1) The discomfort of lice crawling under his body during the plague -
The Holy Admor of Skulen zt"l says that these concerns were voiced by Yaakov in his choice of words "chesed ve'emes." The "chesed," kindness, was to avoid his suffering from the lice and the travelling through underground tunnels. The "emes," truth, was to take steps to avoid giving the Egyptians the opportunity to deify Yaakov. This or any other form of deification of anybody or anything besides Hashem is the ultimate falsehood. Proper belief in the true Hashem is the ultimate "emes," truth.
Ch. 48, v. 9: "Bonai heim asher nosan ki Elokim bo'zeh" - Rashi says that the word "bo'zeh" indicates that Yoseif responded to Yaakov's question by showing him a physical object, the documents of his betrothal and dowry (Maseches Kaloh 3:15). The Holy Admor of Ostrovtze asked the Holy Admor of Kloizenberg, "Although the term "bo'zeh" indicates a physical object, nevertheless, how are these documents alluded to in the verse?"
The Holy Admor of Kloizenberg answered that Yaakov asked Yoseif how he could halachically marry a woman in Egypt since there were no proper witnesses available when he married. Yoseif responded that we know that the admission of people to a matter is usually as binding as witnesses. We derive this from the words "Ki hu ZEH" (Shmos 22:8). Therefore, if one admits that he owes another person money, on the strength of his admission alone he is required to pay the debt. We compare money matters to marriage matters through the power of finding the common expression DOVOR by both monetary issues (Dvorim 19:15), and marriage (Dvorim 24:1).
In spite of this comparison, the gemara Kidushin 65b says that this does not suffice for admission to being married, since this is detrimental for an outsider. If we believe them that they are married, a sister, mother, daughter, etc. of the woman is now no longer permitted to be married to the man. As well, she may not be married to anyone else in the world. Therefore we cannot believe this couple that they are married, solely on the strength of their admission.
Yoseif showed Yaakov his documents which were an agreement between himself and his wife Osnas, who was actually the daughter of Dinoh. There were no signatures of witnesses. However, Yoseif claimed that it was sufficient to just have the documents willingly drawn up by himself and Osnas. The only reason that they would not be believed would be because if believed it would be to the detriment of others. Since the Egyptians did not even dine with Jews (Breishis 43:32), they surely wouldn't marry them. This then constitutes a situation where there is no loss to others, as both Yoseif and Osnas were Jewish, and the rule of accepting self-admission would apply. This is derived from the word ZEH (Shmos 22:8), as mentioned above.
This is what is meant by Yoseif when he said "They are my legitimate children, granted to me by Elokim," as children of a legal binding marriage, "bo'ZEH," through the power of ZEH, the word which teaches us that admission alone is binding when there is no detriment to outsiders.
To bring this most fabulous answer to a climax: The Holy Admor of Kloizenberg gave this answer at the age of nine years old!
Ch. 49, v. 13: "Z'vulun" - Z'vulun's great merit was that he would support the Torah study of Yisochor and be credited with the knowledge of the Torah as well as the reward for fulfillment of the mitzvoh of Torah study. This is alluded to in the letters of the name Z'vulun, spelled Zayin-Beis-Vov-Lamed-Nun. The letters Zayin-Nun spell ZoN, to give sustenance. The remaining letters, Beis-Vov-Lamed are the first letter (Breishis 1:1 *B*reishis), middle letter (Vayikro 11:42 goch*O*ne), and last letter (Dvorim 34:12 Yisroe*L*) of the Torah, to indicate that Z'vulun is credited with learning the complete Torah. (Gan Yoseif)
Ch. 50, v. 16: "Ovicho tzivo lifnei moso" - Rashi (M.R. 100:8) says that in actuality Yaakov never commanded that Yoseif forgive his brothers. They sent this message to Yoseif with the intention of maintaining peace between themselves and Yoseif.
An approach which differs from Rashi's in interpreting the words "Ovicho tzivo lifnei moso" by expalining these words in a more literal sense is taken by the Gan Yoseif. Where indeed did Yaakov command his children to beg Yoseif forgiveness and that he hopefully would forgive them? Actually, anyone who has wronged his fellow-man must ask for forgiveness as mentioned in Shulchon Oruch O.Ch. 606:1. The question Yoseif's brothers had was if one acted incorrectly to another, but the results of his actions ended being for the betterment of that person, is it required to ask for forgiveness.
From the actions of Yaakov they derived an answer. We find that Yaakov excused himself to Yoseif for not burying his wife, Yoseif's mother Rochel, in Eretz Yisroel according to Rashi and within a community according to the Ramban. Why was this necessary? A tremendous amount of benefit was accrued by the bnei Yisroel in having Rochel buried on the path to Beis Lechem. Rashi (M.R. 82:10) on 48:7 says that when the bnei Yisroel were forced to go into exile in the days of Nevuzaradan, they passed by the burial place of Rochel and this aroused her to beseech Hashem to have mercy upon his children, and Hashem responded that they would return to the borders of their land (Yirmiyohu 31:14,15,16).
Yaakov's sons learned from this that if one did something which at the outset was seemingly to the detriment of another, even if it turns out for the best, an apology and request for forgiveness are in place. This, says the Gan Yoseif, is the intention of "Ovicho tzivo lifnei moso."
I have difficulty with this because it might be in place to excuse oneself when the negative aspect is presently in front of us and the positive aspect has not yet come into fruition, as is the case with Rochel, but by Yoseif and his brothers, where the benefit had been realized, as Yoseif was the viceroy of Egypt, perhaps there is no requirement to ask for forgiveness.
Ch. 50, v. 19: "Va'yomer a'leihem Yoseif al tiro'u KI hasachas Elokim onochi" - The M.R. 84:14 says on the verse " Va'yisnaklu oso l'hamiso (Breishis 37-18), - and they diabolically schemed against him to put him to death," that the brothers incited wild dogs to attack Yoseif as a punishment for his speaking 'loshon hora" about them. The level of responsibility for doing this is ruled in the gemara Bovo Kamo 23b as not being culpable in an earthly court, but the heavens may extract punishment.
We can now interpret the words of Yoseif as: "al tiro'u," as far as I am concerned you should have no fear, as I forgive you and as well, in a court I cannot extract any retribution for your actions. However when it comes to heavenly judgement, KI, except, as KI IM, "hasachas Elokim onochi," am I then in the place of Elokim to decide the heavenly decree? Regarding this you are still at risk. (Perach L'vonone)
Ch. 50, v. 25: "V'haalisem es atzmosai mi'zeh" - Compare this with the request of Yaakov to be interred in Eretz Yisroel, "U'n'sosani miMitzrayim." Yaakov simply requested to be carried to E.Y. while Yoseif said that his BONES should be brought back to Eretz Yisroel. Simply one can say that Yaakov requested to be returned immediately after his demise, and his body would be intact. Yoseif knew that he would not be privileged to have this happen to him or preferred to have his body remain in Egypt until the exodus, and all that would be left of his remains would be bones. If it was only circumstantial that all that would be left would be his bones, why did he have to point this out?
In parshas Va'yeishev on the words "Va'y'hi Yoseif y'fei so'ar vifei ma'reh" (39:6), Rashi (Medrash Tanchumoh #8) says that once things settled down and Yoseif had a feeling of having a position of dominance in the house of Poti Phera, he began to eat, drink, and style his hair. How are we to understand that he began to eat and drink at this jucture? Obviously this cannot be taken literally, since he must have eaten and drunk until now as well. This must mean that he began indulging in food, and until now only eating sufficiently to keep himself healthy. If so, perhaps he wanted to stress that only his bones be returned to the Holy Land because he did not want to have the flesh which was the result of what he ate for the sake of pleasure to be brought there.
QUESTION: The secular word used for the book of Breishis is Genesis, taken from the Greek language. Where do we find the word Genesis in Rashi in Breishis? It also has the meaning "creation."
Back to this week's Parsha | Previous Issues
This article is provided as part of Shema Yisrael Torah Network
Permission is granted to redistribute electronically or on paper,
provided that this notice is included intact.
For information on subscriptions, archives, and
other Shema Yisrael Classes,
send mail to email@example.com