by Zvi Akiva Fleisher
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SEDRAH SELECTIONS PARSHAS VAYICHI 5763 BS"D
Ch. 48, v. 9: "Asher nosan li Elokim BO'ZEH" - That Hashem has given me through THIS - Rashi says that when Yaakov questioned the purity of Yoseif's sons to know if they were deserving recipients of his blessings, Yoseif produced the legal documents, the betrothal writ and the dowry contract. How is this derived from our verse? The word "zeh" is found as well in Breishis 5:1, "Zeh sefer toldos odom." Sefer, a book or document is alluded to here with the word "zeh." (Paanei'ach Rozo and Rabbeinu Moshe Baal Tosfos) Alternatively, "zeh" indicates showing an object. What could Yoseif show his father to prove his point? Obviously it was these documents. (Rabbi Ovadioh Bartenura)
Where did Yoseif find proper witnesses for the document? At that time any reliable court, even of gentiles, was acceptable. (Rabbi Yehudoh Chosid) Rashi on verse 8 says that when Yaakov was about to bless these grandsons the Holy Spirit left him because he saw that in the future Y'rovom and Achov would be Efrayim's descendants, and Yeihu and his sons would be Menasheh's descendants. Thus Efrayim and Menasheh seemed to not deserve blessings if such unethical people would descend from them. If this was the issue, how did producing Yoseif's marriage documents ameliorate Yaakov's concern?
To answer this we will refer to a well-known question that we dealt with at length in parshas Ki Seitzei 5760. Why was Yishmo'eil dealt with leniently, "baasher hu shom," even though in the future his descendants would cause the painful death of many of the bnei Yisroel, and the rebellious son, the "ben soreir u'moreh," is dealt with most harshly, being put to death, for future actions? The Maharsh"a on the gemara R.H. 16b also asks this question and answers that we deal more harshly with one who is the product of a marriage that is either unsavory or looked upon with disdain. The marriage to a "y'fas to'ar," a woman of goodly appearance, is a concession in a time of war, when men are away from their families. The offspring of such a marriage is negatively judged even for a future act. However, Yishmo'eil was the product of a proper act, Avrohom's union with Hogor.
Yoseif, sensing that his father's reluctance to bless the lads was based on future generations understood that his father would only judge Efrayim and Menasheh negatively because of the future if their parents union was one that was improper. He therefore produced his marriage documents to show that this was not so, and that the lads should be blessed in spite of what the future held, as was Yishmo'eil. (P'ninim Y'korim)
Ch. 49, v. 2: "Hikovtzu v'shimu bnei Yaakov" - Assemble and hear sons of Yaakov - In the previous verse Yaakov just told them to assemble, "hei'osfu," so why the repetition? The gemara P'sochim 56a says that Yaakov planned to disclose the time of the end of days would be and the Holy Spirit left him, thus he was unable to do this. He felt that the cause for this was because one or more of his children were ch"v not righteous. When he raised this concern they responded with "Shma Yisroel etc." saying that each of them believed in one Hashem. This gemara deserves clarification. Commentators explain that the reason the bnei Yisroel experienced the Egyptian exile for 210 years was because of the sale of Yoseif (gemara Shabbos 10b). Nine brothers were involved in his sale and to safeguard the secret they invoked a vow-pact that was given a very powerful weight by virtue of having it agreed upon by 10. As there were only 9 brothers who sold Yoseif, they included Hashem, so to say forcing Hashem to agree to this as well. This act tainted Hashem's Holy Name in a sense. The name of Hashem that was invoked was E-H-Y-H (see Shmos 3:14). This Holy Name has a value of 21. Multiply this by the quorum of 10 and we have 210. This was rectified by suffering through 210 years of exile in Egypt.
Moshe thought that Yoseif's brothers tainted the name Y-H-V-H, which has a value of 26, and when multiplied by 10 we have 260. When Hashem told him that freedom was at hand Moshe wondered why they didn't have over 50 more years to go. This is the intention of "Va'yar Hashem ki SoR liros" (Shmos 3:4), that Hashem perceived that Moshe felt that there would be a 260 year sojourn in Egypt, the numerical value of "SoR." Hashem advised him that the name that was invoked was E-H-Y-H, and only 210 years of being in Egypt was needed. On the other hand, Yaakov knew that they invoked and in turn tainted the name E-H-Y-H, but he did not know that Hashem was included in their pact. Nine times 21 equals 189. Yaakov concluded that at the end of 189 years, going into the 190th year the bnei Yisroel would go free. Thus Yaakov attempted to disclose the "keitz," the end, spelled Kuf-Tzadi, and having a numerical value of 190, which he thought would be the total number of years of their exile in Egypt. His not calculating Hashem along with 9 of his sons is "nistalkoh mi'mnu haSh'chinoh," the Holy Spirit of Hashem being included evaded him. When he tuned in to the holy celestial realms and saw that the exile would be even longer he therefore concluded that they must have also committed other sins that extended the time of their exile. His sons responded that they had no other sin. They said "Hashem Elokeinu Hashem echod," Hashem was One with us. He was included in our pact, bringing up the number from 189 to 210, and thus necessitating another 21 years of exile. (Mar'g'niso d'Rav)
Ch. 50, v. 5: "Hi'nei onochi meis b'kivri" - Behold I will die in my grave - How could Yaakov be quoted as saying that he would die in his grave? Hashem clearly told him that He would bring Yaakov back to Eretz Yisroel to be interred there. This means that Yaakov would not arrive in Eretz Yisroel alive. From the verse "Vatovo'u vatitamu es artzi" (Yirmiyohu 2:7) we derive (M.R. Breishis 96:5) that Yirmiyohu criticizes one who lived a life of material gratification outside Eretz Yisroel and then had his remains sent to Eretz Yisroel to be interred. This is akin to contaminating the Holy Land. If so, there seemed to be good reason for Paroh to be reluctant to permit burying Yaakov in Eretz Yisroel.
This is why Yoseif quoted Yaakov as saying that he would die in his grave, i.e. in Eretz Yisroel. The gemara Sotoh 13a says that Rivkoh's words, "Lomoh eshkal shneichem yom echod" (Breishis 27:45), - why should I be bereft of both of you, Yaakov and Eisov, in one day, was fulfilled when Yaakov had died and was brought back to Chevron for burial. Eisov put up a fuss, claiming that the final burial plot in the M'oras Hamachpeiloh was rightfully his. Chushim the son of Don killed Eisov and thus they both died on one day. This is difficult to fathom. Yaakov died a while earlier. However, since these words escaped Rivkoh's holy lips, we must say that there was some minimal life force left in Yaakov's worldly remains until he was physically buried. Thus Yaakov died in his grave. (P'ninim Y'korim)
On a simpler level we might be able to say that since the gemara mentioned earlier says that Yaakov sat up in his bier and watched as Eisov's eyes, which were knocked out by the velocity of Chushim's blow to his head, landed upon Yaakov's knees, we see that he was alive on the day of his burial. Thus both the problem of "vatovo'u vatitamu es artzi" and the words "hi'nei onochi meis b'kivri" are alleviated.
There is another compelling explanation for Yaakov's right to be buried in Eretz Yisroel even if he died in Egypt. The gist of the complaint is that a person who lived his life outside of Eretz Yisroel to pursue his perceived broadened vistas of material opportunities does not deserve to have his corpus which was fattened in the Diaspora be brought to terra sancta, somewhat like Bilom's living a "cha'zeirishe" life but wanting to die the death of a saint, "tomus nafshi mose y'shorim" (Bmidbar 23:10). However, Rashi in his third translation of "asher korisi li" says that this means that I made a pile for myself. Yaakov piled up all the assets that he amassed from his working for Lovon, which took place outside Eretz Yisroel, and offered them to Eisov (M.R. Shmos 31:17). This was not a fair value payment with available barter. Rashi on Breishis 46:6 d.h. "asher" writes that Yaakov said, "Nich'sei chutzoh lo'oretz einon k'dai li," - goods amassed outside Eretz Yisroel are not worthwhile for me to keep. Piles of gold and silver were surely overpayment. Yaakov wanted to totally divest himself of such holdings even though he was left literally penniless. Elifaz took all he had on his way to Lovon, and all he had amassed was "chutz lo'oretz" income. We see from this act that Yaakov had no interest in amassing a fortune in the Diaspora. His body's being interred in Eretz Yisroel is therefore not a contamination of the Holy Land.
From much of the above we might have a deeper understanding of Rashi's necessity to explain "asher korisi li" in three manners. His first translation is "that I have dug for myself," a straight-forward translation. He then offer "that I have purchased," a bit farfetched meaning based on terminology used in far-flung islands. Rashi might be answering the difficulty of "I will die in my grave." By including the sale of the plot, we come to the story in the gemara where Eisov disputed the sale and Chushim killed him, bringing about Yaakov's short-lived resurrection. Had Yaakov not purchased it his sons might not have disputed with Eisov. Thus we have Yaakov dying at the time of his burial.
Rashi's third offering is that "korisi" means "that I have piled up." Again, with a novel insight we might say that Rashi is addressing the "hi'nei onochi meis b'kivri" problem. There is a maxim "oni choshuv k'meis" (Holy Zohar 2:119a). We can thus say "onochi meis," I am as a dead person because I piled up and gave Eisov all my money and am destitute, "b'kivri," the letter Beis meaning "baavur," - for the purpose of - making it MY burial plot.
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