SEDRAH SELECTIONS PARSHAS VA'YICHI 5766 BS"D
Ch. 47, v. 28: "Va'yichi Yaakov" - And Yaakov lived - Rashi notes that
parshas Va'yichi is a parsha "s'sumoh," closed. The intention is not the regular
"s'sumoh," a parsha beginning after a minimum of nine Yud spaces, which are laid
out in a specific location on the line, as numerous parshios are "s'sumos" and
no comment is made. Rather, it means that there is no regular parsha space at
all, and the word "va'yichi" has but one Yud space before it, the same as the
space between any two words.
Yaakov's life was basically a series of difficult trying situations,
beginning even before birth with his challenging womb-mate Eisov. Then came the
wresting away the blessings and Eisov wanting to kill him, running away to Lovon and
dealing with a sly father-in-law, the incident with Dinoh, and then with
Yoseif. Finally, he had some peace and quiet for the final 17 years of his life.
He reached his pinnacle of completeness together with Hashem's Holy Spirit in
sanctity (Tana D'vei Eliyohu says that he even tasted "olom habo") in Egypt of
all places, a land full of demoralized inhabitants. As well, the Jewish nation
grew mighty and populous there. Similarly, Torah "sheb'al peh" was formulated
in Bovel. This is the meaning of "this parsha is sealed." It is beyond our
comprehension to fathom how such great growth and lofty accomplishments took
place outside Eretz Yisroel. This is likewise a lesson for us to not become
disillusioned in our long and bitter "golus." (Rabbi Tzodok haKohein)
Ch. 47, v. 28: "Va'yichi Yaakov" - And Yaakov lived - "Va'yichi" has the
numeric value of 34. Yaakov had a pleasant life for 34 years, the 17 years from
the birth of Yoseif until Yoseif was sold, and the final 17 years of his life.
If one were to raise the question, "Why weren't the years before Yoseif's
birth just as pleasant," we might answer that he had the lingering fear of Eisov
in the back of his mind, but once Yoseif was born he knew that Eisov would be
overpowered (see Rashi on Breishis 35:20).
Ch. 47, v. 29: "Va'yik'r'vu y'mei Yisroel lomus" - - And the days of Yisroel
came close to die - This is a somewhat stilted translation. In any case, the
verse includes the word "y'mei," the days of. This word could have been left
out and the same information could be conveyed. However, the verse is teaching
us a very important lesson. Life is time! Wasting time is committing suicide
on the installment plan! The DAYS of Yisroel came to an end. (Nirreh li)
Ch. 47, v. 29: "V'ossiso imodi chesed ve'emes" - And you shall do with me a
kindness and truth - Yaakov ended his request by having Yoseif swear that he
would not bury him in Egypt and in the next verse specified that he wanted to be
buried together with Avrohom and Yitzchok. This is the intention of his words
"chesed ve'emes." Avrohom was the pillar of "chesed," while Yaakov was the
pillar of "emes," as per the verse "ti'ten emes l'Yaakov chesed l'Avrohom"
(Michoh 7:20). (Rabbi Chaim Vi'tal in Eitz Hadaas Tov)
Ch. 48, v. 15: "Ho'Elokim asher his'halchu avosai l'fonov" - Elokim before
Whom my forefathers have brought themselves to walk - Why did Yaakov mention
this merit before invoking his blessings upon Yoseif and his sons? As mentioned
in parshas Noach 5759, "his'ha'leich l'fonai," as mentioned by Avrohom (17:1),
refers to the righteous person creating an environment of sanctity where it
did not previously exist. Noach was not on this level, hence only "es ho'Elokim
his'ha'lech Noach" (6:9), WITH Hashem, where sanctity already existed, Noach
thrived, but he was unable to convince others.
Similarly here, Yaakov's blessing was predicated on this virtue, as Yoseif
and his sons remained staunch Torah-true people even in the decadent spiritually
empty land of Egypt. Just as Yaakov's forefathers were "his'ha'leich l'fonai"
people, so too were Yoseif, Efrayim, and Menasheh. (Nirreh li)
Ch. 49, v. 7: "Achalkeim b'Yaakov vaafitzeim b'Yisroel" - I will split them
up in Yaakov and I will disperse them in Yisroel - Yaakov wanted to remedy
Shimon and Levi's anger. By advising them of their destiny, Levi to be sustained
through tithes, and Shimon through teaching, they would have to calm down. No
one is required to give his tithes to a specific Levi or Kohein. Those who
readily anger will be overlooked. Similarly, "Lo hakapdon m'la'meid" (Pirkei Ovos
2:6), and a teacher who is quick to anger will not be hired. (Pardes Yoseif)
Ch. 50, v. 10: "Va'yis'p'du shom mispeid godol v'choveid m'ode" - And they
eulogized there a great and intense eulogy - The gemara Sotoh 13a says that even
the horses and donkeys were moved. This deserves an explanation. The Prophet
Yechezkeil describes the Egyptians as, "B'sar chamorim b'sorom v'zirmas susim
zirmosom" (23:20). The intention of the medrash is to refer to the Egyptians
who were present. (Likutei B'somim)
Ch. 50, v. 15: "Lu yist'meinu Yoseif" - Lest/If only Yoseif will hate us" -
Some say that they preferred that he openly punish them rather than harbour
ill-will in his heart and overtly treat them royally. Yoseif understood this and
responded that he truly had no ill-will and proved this by even offering to
support their children, even after they would pass away.
Baal Haturim says that the intention of "lu" is that they hoped that he would
only harbour his feelings in his heart and not actually punish them, since
their actions eventually brought about positive results. The flow of the next
words in the verse requires clarification.
Ch. 50, v. 16: "Ovicho tzivoh lifnei moso" - Your father has commanded before
his demise - See Rashi. Rabbi Dovid of Lask says that Yaakov alluded to the
brothers to remove all vestiges of hatred that remained among them when he said
"Yikro Es'chem B'acharis Ha'yomim" (49:1). The first letters of these words
Ch. 50, v. 19: "Hasachas Elokim oni" - Am I in the place of G-d - The medrash
says that when Yoseif drew close to his brothers they sent dogs to attack
him. The gemara B.K. 56 says that one who does this is not liable in an earthly
court but is liable by heavenly standards. This was Yoseif's intention. He
willingly forgave them but was not in the position to forgive the heavenly claim.
Ch. 50, v. 26: "Va'yomos Yoseif ben Mei'oh v'esrim shonoh" - And Yoseif died
at the age of 120 years - Numerous reasons are given for Yoseif's dying early.
Chizkuni writes that he died early because he had his father embalmed. This
requires clarification. It was a great honour to be embalmed in Egypt,
something reserved for royalty.
King Dovid lived for 70 years. He was to have been a still-born but years of
others were granted to him. There is an opinion that primary man, Odom, gave
70 years of his life, and another opinion that Yaakov, who lived to the age of
147, 33 years less than his father, and Yoseif, who lived to the age of 110,
37 years less than his father, combined to give king Dovid his 70 years. The
gemara Taanis 5b says that Yaakov did not die. If so there is no combination of
these two contributions for king Dovid. Yoseif should not have died early.
However, since he embalmed his father, he literally understood that his father
died, so he too died early to contribute 37 years to the life of king Dovid.
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