Thoughts on the Weekly Parshah by HaRav Eliezer Chrysler
Formerly Rav of Mercaz Ahavat Torah, Johannesburg

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Vol. 16   No. 12

This issue is sponsored
l'iluy Nishmas
Yehuda ben Mordechai z"l
whose Yohrzeit is 14 Teves

Parshas Vayechi

Until 'Shiloh' Arrives
(Adapted from Rabeinu Bachye)

Rashi, following in the footsteps of both Targum Unklus and Yonasan, interprets this Pasuk with reference to Mashi'ach. Ya'akov, in fact, was promising Yehudah that his descendents were destined to rule over Yisrael until the end of time. That does not mean, says the Ramban, that there would never be a time when a descendent of Yehudah would not sit on the throne. Indeed, he points out, we have no king at this time (and he said this some eight hundred years ago). To be sure, he explains, there have been periods in our history when there was no king; there were even periods in our history when we were ruled by kings from other tribes - such as the Chashmona'i kings from the tribe of Levi. But that was always on a temporary basis. In fact, it is precisely because the Maccabim usurped the throne from Yehudah that they were severely punished, and the entire family was wiped out.

The Monarchy, the Ramban explains, belongs to Yehudah (Malchus Beis David) and if, for whatever reason it is taken away from them, it is only temporarily. Eventually, it will be returned to them, and ultimately, once Mashi'ach comes, it will revert to the tribe of Yehudah forever.

The Pasuk "Lo yosur sheivet mi'Yehudah ad ki yovo Shiloh ve'lo yikhas amim", has two diverse inerpretations. It can mean that Yehudah (i.e. David) will not attain rulership until after (Mishkan) Shiloh has been destroyed. But in keeping with what we wrote earlier, it can also be translated as 'The staff of kingship will not be removed from Yehudah forever (with the comma after the word "ad" [forever]), because Shiloh (Gematriyah 'Mashi'ach' - Ba'al ha'Turim) will come, at which point it will be returned to him.


In his first interpretation of the Pasuk, Rabeinu Bachye argues that it would be illogical for Ya'akov Avinu to talk solely about the ultimate redemption, when it was Galus Mitzrayim that was about to begin?

Consequently, he explains, the Pasuk must also contain a hint at the Ge'ulah from Egypt. To that end, he says, 'Shiloh' (Gematriyah 'Moshe') refers to Moshe Rabeinu, and what the Pasuk is then saying is that Yehudah will rule, until Yisrael leave Egypt, when the sovereignty will switch to the tribe of Levi, and Moshe Rabeinu, the first redeemer, will ascend the throne, as the Torah writes in ve'Zos ha'B'rachah (33:5) "And he was king in Yeshurun", adding "when the heads of the people gathered to him", hinted in the continuation of our Pasuk "and he will gather the nations" (i.e. the tribes, which the Pasuk in ve'Zos ha'B'rachah [33:3] refers to as 'nations').


In a third explanation, which he approaches from a completely different angle, R. Bachye cites the three introductory Pesukim that precede the actual B'rachah given to Yehudah regarding the praise of Eretz Yisrael. This introduction is unique to Yehudah, and what also stands out, is the fact that each Pasuk contains Yehudah's name.

Consequently, he explains, besides Yehudah himself, who ruled over his brothers much like a king, Ya'akov Avinu was referring to David ha'Melech and Mashi'ach. He began with the words "Yehudah, your brothers will acknowledge you ", an obvious reference to Yehudah himself. He then refers to Yehudah the lion cub, who 'arose from the prey'. This refers to David (who was a descendant of Yehudah) who was lion cub in the days of Shaul ha'Melech, but who turned into a lion after the latter's death. And he arose 'from the prey', when on a number of occasions he refused to kill Shaul, despite the fact that the latter was pursuing him relentlessly, when he (Shaul) fell into his hands; whereas 'he kneels and crouches like a lion' describes the freedom and the abundance that existed in the days of his son Shlomoh ha'Melech, about whom the Pasuk writes "each man under his vine ". Whilst the third Pasuk "The staff of rulership will not be removed until Shiloh will arrive" refers to King Mashi'ach, the son who will emerge from Yehudah, from the word 'shilyah' - a placenta - a hint that Mashi'ach will be a human-being (in contrast to the gentiles' understanding of a Mashi'ach that will be a Divine being). And the 'Hey' at the end of Shiloh represents the second 'Hey' in Hashem's holy Name, which in turn, denotes the Kingdom of Heaven.

* * *

Parshah Pearls
(Adapted from Rabeinu Bachye)

The Third Galus

"And the days of Ya'akov's life were a hundred and forty-seven " (47:28).

As Rashi comments, the Parshah of Vayechi is closed (i.e. that there is no space between 'Vayigash', and it), firstly because 'the eyes and the hearts of Yisrael were closed from the troubles of the slavery, which began with Ya'akov's death; and secondly, because the date of the ultimate Galus, which he had intended to reveal, as is hinted later (in 49:1) in the words "Gather, and I will tell you what will happen to you at the end of days" was suddenly closed to him.


R. Bachye comments that Ya'akov being the third of the Avos, it is befitting that everything connected with him hints at what was destined to happen to Yisrael in their third Galus (Galus Edom).

The fact that Ya'akov hinted at the era of Mashi'ach, when he said there (Pasuk 10) "until Shiloh (alias Mashi'ach) arrives", indicates that he wanted to reveal the exact date of his arrival, and the Parshah is closed he explains, to teach us that that knowledge was withheld from him.

The author also points out that both Daniel (12:4) and Yeshayah (9:6) referred to this 'closing' at the time of the Galus. In fact, Yeshayah hinted at it by inserting a closed 'Mem' in the word "Lemarbeh ha'misrah " (to increase the dominion and infinite peace), hinting at Yisrael's superiority and dominion that was 'closed' in the time of Galus.

Similarly, Ezra, in the Book of Nechemyah (2:13) inserts a 'closed' 'Mem' in the word "Heim" (in the Pasuk " be'chomos Yerushalayim asher heim perutzim [the walls of Yerushalayim which were breached "). This hints to the walls of Yerushalayim which had been open and its gates consumed by fire during the time of Galus Bavel, and which were now about to be shut, a sign that the dominion of Yisrael was about to be re-opened. And just as these two 'Memin' appear (irregularly) closed, so too, is the Parshah of Vayechi irregularly closed, to supply us with the same basic hint.


In similar vein, R. Bachye cites a Medrash, that when Ya'akov realized that the letters 'Ches' and 'Tes' (which spell 'Chet' [sin]) do not appear in the names of the twelve tribes, he figured that they must be worthy for him to reveal the date of the Mashi'ach. But when he realized that the letters 'Kuf' and 'Tzadei' (which spell 'Keitz' [the end - of the final Galus]) do not appear there either, he decided that they were not worthy after all.


Ya'akov Did Not Die!

"And Ya'akov expired and he was gathered to his people" (50:33).

The Torah does not say that Ya'akov died, and indeed, Chazal say that Ya'akov did not die.

But how can that be, asks the Gemara, when the Torah relates how the Egyptians embalmed him and wept over his death for seventy days? And what's more, asks R. Bachye, it goes on to describe Ya'akov's burial in the Me'oras ha'Machpeilah in great detail? What, did they bury him alive?


What Chazal therefore mean, says R. Bachye, is not that he remained alive, but that he did not taste the taste of death. He does not explain what exactly that means, but he does offer another explanation. His Neshamah, he explains, did not depart from his body permanently, as it does with most other people. Rather it hovered over it, instead of going to its final resting-place. As a result of Ya'akov's sanctity, his Neshamah remained close to him, hovering over him, ascending and descending incessantly.

This state is one that is confined only to the greatest Tzadikim of the generations, those who excelled in their piety and sanctity, like we find by Rebbi

The Gemara in Kesubos (103b) relates how afterRebbi died, he would return to his house every Erev Shabbos and recite Kidush on behalf of his family. It happened once that a neighbour knocked at the door just as he was about to recite Kidush, and the maidservant went to answer. After opening the door, she motioned to the woman to be silent as Rebbi was about to recite Kidush.

When Rebbi saw that his return to this world was now revealed, he stopped coming, the Gemara concludes, in order not to belittle the numerous Tzadikim whose Neshamos went directly to Heaven and had not reached the level at which they were able to return to this world. And if Rabeinu ha'Kadosh achieved this level, it goes without saying that Ya'akov achieved it too, Ya'akov Avinu, who was sanctified with a triple Kedushah (of Avraham, who was sanctified with the Mitzvah of B'ris Milah, of Yitzchak, who was sanctified to be a perfect Olah at the Akeidah, and with his own Kedushah as the third of the Avos, the one who completed the Holy Chariot, among whose children there was no imperfection). Indeed, we find that G-d carries the title 'K'dosh Ya'akov', but never 'K'dosh Avraham' or 'K'dosh Yitzchak'!


The Embalming of Ya'akov

"And Yosef commanded his servants the doctors to embalm his father, and the doctors embalmed Yisrael" (50:).

This consisted of applying a variety of mixed spices, says R. Bachye, citing a Pasuk in Divrei-Hayamim, in connection with King Asa, and it was performed after washing the body.

Heaven forbid he adds, that the gentile doctors should touch Ya'akov's holy body. What the Pasuk means is that Yosef charged them with overseeing the embalming process, since they were experts in that field, but that it was Ya'akov's own family who actually performed the embalming.


This is reminiscent of what the author writes later (on Pasuk 12), where, in connection with the burial procession, the Torah states how "Ya'akov's children did to him as he had commanded them". This means, he refers to Ya'akov's strict instructions that no Egyptian, or grandchild whose mother was a Cana'anis may carry his coffin, only his children (see also Rashi there).

In fact, he explains, they transported his Aron, four on each side, in exactly the same formation as the twelve tribes ultimately surrounded the Aron ha'B'ris.

Perhaps it follows that those who were forbidden to touch Ya'akov's Aron were certainly forbidden to touch his holy body, in which case the embalming was carried out specifically by his children plus Efrayim and Menasheh (who took the place of Levi and Yosef in transporting Ya'akov's coffin).


Eisav's Grandson Tz'fo

"And there went up with him (Yosef) also chariots and also horsemen (gam rechev gam poroshim)" (50:9).

This was in order to protect the camp during the journey to Cana'an, but above all, to prevent Eisav from interfering with the burial of his father, Rabeinu Bachye explains. For Yosef, a shrewd man, knew exactly what was going on in his uncle's scheming heart. Indeed, Josephus describes how Tz'fo the son Elifaz, Eisav's son, lay in wait for the entourage, and attacked them in an effort to prevent them from burying Ya'akov in Me'aras ha'Machpeilah. A battle ensued, in which Yosef's army defeated that of Tz'fo. Tz'fo himself was captured and taken down to Egypt, where he was held captive until Yosef's death. When Yosef died, he escaped and fled to Rome, where he was crowned king of the Kiti'im in Rome, until eventually, his kingdom extended over the whole of Greece/Italy. He was the first king of Rome, and it was he who built the first palace there.


And the reason that the Torah adds the two 'Gamin' (also chariots, also horsemen), is because, besides the large retinue of melavim, who were accompanying Ya'akov's coffin out of respect, there were a large number of men of war, including spies and guards, whose services Yosef was prepared to utilize should the need arise. For as we know, the word "gam" always comes to include something.

* * *


'I compare you Yehudah my son, to a lion-cub, for you removed yourself from the murder of Yosef, my son, and you were spared from the punishment of Tamar ' (49:9).


'How nice is King Mashi'ach who will arise from the House of Yehudah. He will gird his loins and go and wage war with the enemy; he will kill kings with their rulers, and there is not a king or ruler who will stand before him; the mountains will be red from the blood of those whom he will slay, and his garments will be dyed red ' (49:11).


'How nice are the eyes of King Mashi'ach, pure wine, not to see adultery and the shedding of innocent blood, and his teeth are whiter than milk from not eating what has been stolen taken by force. And so will his mountains and his winepress be red from wine and his hills, white with produce and flocks of sheep (49:12).


'Zevulun will dwell by the sea-shore and he will rule over many areas, and capture overseas islands in ships ' (49:13).


'Yisachar is strong in Torah; He is a powerful tribe who knows how to calculate the times (the dates of the calendar), and he dwells between the borders of his brothers' (49:14).


'And he saw that rest in the World to Come was good, and that a portion in Eretz Yisrael was pleasant and that his brothers will bring him gifts' (49:15).


'There will arise a man from the House of Dan who will judge his people with integrity, the tribes of Yisrael will listen to him like one man' (49:16).


'The man who will be chosen from the House of Dan will be like a snake that crouches by the crossroads, like a viper that lies in wait on the path, which bites the horse on its heel; it will fall from fear of it and the rider will topple backwards. So will Shimshon the son of Mano'ach kill all the strong men of the P'lishtim, cavalry and infantry. He will destroy their horses and out of fear the enemy will fall over backwards' (49:17).


'Said Ya'akov, when he saw Gid'on, the son of Yo'ash and Shimshon the son of Mano'ach, who arose to liberate (Yisrael) "It is not for the liberation of Gid'on that I look for, nor that of Shimshon that I seek, for their salvation is only temporary - rather it is Your salvation that I look for and seek, for Your salvation is an everlasting salvation' (49:18).

* * *

(Adapted from the Seifer ha'Chinuch)

Please bear in mind that the rulings in this article reflect the opinion of the Seifer ha'Chinuch and are not necessarily Halachah.

Mitzvah 123:
The Korban Oleh ve'Yored (cont.)

A reason for the Mitzvah The author has already explained that the purpose of a Korban is to draw attention to the sinner and by means of the actions that he is now performing, to acknowledge that he did wrong, and to remind him to ask forgiveness from G-d for what he did in the past on the one hand, and to take more care against sinning in the future. And due to G-d's superior wisdom and his knowledge of man's weak intelligence, lack of understanding and physical weakness, He was lenient with him with regard to the atonement for these afore-mentioned sins, to link it to his financial means, depending upon whether he is rich or poor; that in turn, because transgressing them is a common occurrence. Sins to do with the tongue in any event are more common than sins that are performed with actions, as is well-know, and that will explain the two sins in the realm of Shevu'ah. Likewise, the sin of Tum'as Mikdash ve'Kodashav are common, due to the difficulty that most people have in retaining their Taharah, since it entails refraining from physical contact with people, for fear that they may be Tamei, as well as many other problems that one encounters in trying to remain Tahor. And precisely because of the many stumbling-blocks that cause a person to stumble and sin in the above matters, the Torah further facilitates one who has transgressed Shevu'as ha'Eidus to atone for his sin to bring a Korban both be'Shogeg and be'Meizid. This is because testimony is an ongoing issue and a person's Yeitzer ha'Ra convinces him that he genuinely forgot or that perhaps he will not present his testimony accurately. And there are also people who simply do not consider twisting the direction of testimony such a terrible sin, seeing as the perpetrator has neither robbed nor done any direct harm. The truth of the matter is that the litigant concerned ends up being robbed or crushed, but they pay no heed to that.

That is why, on account of the regularity of this occurring and the lightheartedness with which most people tend to treat this sin, it is an act of kindness on the part of Hashem to allow a Kaparah for Meizid as well as for Shogeg.

A wise person however, understands that one needs to give a wide berth to anything that G-d orders us to distance ourselves from, irrespective of the fact that it is subject to atonement in the event that one contravenes it. It is as if Hashem had told everybody that He does not want them to do such and such a thing under any circumstances, but that, in the event that someone did trip up and contravene it, he must do Teshuvah with all his strength, make fences to prevent him from sinning again, and bring a Korban, with the resolve in his heart not to sin again. However, all this does not change the fact that he transgressed the word of G-d.

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