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

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Vol. 16   No. 11

This issue is sponsored
by the Chaitowitz Family
in loving memory of
Avraham Shalom ben Shneur Zalman z"l
Meir Dovid ben Shlomo Eliezer z"l
Rivka bas Yona z"l

Parshas Vayigash

The Shechinah and Seventy-One
(Adapted from Rabeinu Bachye)

"All the souls of Beis-Ya'akov who came to Egypt of the House of Ya'akov numbered seventy" (46:27).

Plus Ya'akov himself, comments R. Bachye, making a total of seventy-one.

Likewise, G-d told Moshe (in Parshas Beha'aloscha) to gather seventy of the elders of Yisrael, who, together with Moshe, numbered seventy-one.

And so it was with the Sanhedrin, which sat in the Beis-Hamikdash. They too, numbered seventy, but with the Nasi, the number was seventy-one.

The original nations of the world (as listed in Parshas No'ach) also numbered seventy, and when one adds Yisrael, there were seventy-one nations.

All of this, says R. Bachye, follows the pattern in Heaven, where, as Chazal teach us, seventy angels surround G-d's Throne of Glory, which, together with G-d Himself (Kevayachol) make seventy-one. And that is known as 'G-d's Beis-Din'.

And this explains why the Torah concludes (not with the word 'le'Ya'akov', like it did in the previous Pasuk, but) "le'Beis Ya'akov", a hint at the Heavenly Beis-Din, which Ya'akov's wider family echoes.

This teaches us, the author continues, the greatness of Ya'akov Avinu (whose image is engraved underneath the Heavenly Throne and) from whom seventy Souls emerged, which eventually branched out into six hundred thousand when they left Egypt, as this corresponds to the seventy Names which emerge from the Shechinah, and which branch out into six hundred thousand. This in turn, incorporates the maximum number of 'opinions' that exist, and it explains as to why Yisrael were only ready to receive the Torah when they reached a total of six hundred thousand, and not before.


This number is also connected to the fact that the Shechinah has six sides (which no doubt, is in turn, connected to the four directions plus up and down).

Indeed, the Shechinah only rests in Yisrael when there are six hundred thousand people, and that is why the Shechinah rested in Yisrael from the time the Torah was given at Har Sinai, until the destruction of the first Beis-Hamikdash. It did not rest in Yisrael during the era of the second Beis-Hamikdash, R. Bachye contends, because only forty thousand souls returned from Bavel.

That is not to say that the Shechinah does not rest at all on less than six hundred thousand people. For Chazal have said that the Shechinah rests even on twenty-two thousand people, as the Torah writes in Parshas Beha'aloscha (10:36) "Rest Hashem on the tens of thousands and the thousands of Yisrael" (see Rashi there), and this is reiterated in Tehilim (68:18), where the Pasuk says "G-d's chariot consists of tens of thousands and thousands of angels ".Furthermore, the Navi writes in Chagai (1:8 [in connection with the second Beis-Hamikdash]) "And I will be pleased with it and I will be honoured (i.e. I will rest My Honour there)".

What it therefore means is that the Shechinah only rests permanently when Yisrael attain the number six hundred thousand. And that is what happened in the second Beis-Hamikdash, where the Shechinah rested sporadically, as the Pasuk writes in ve'Zos ha'B'rachah (33:12) "He hovers over it all day" - implying that He does not actually settle there.


Note, that the Pasuk in Chagai that we just quoted is missing a 'Hey' in the word "ve'ikaveidah" (and I will be honoured), and it is from there that Chazal learn that the second Beis-Hamikdash was lacking five things - the Aron, the anointing oil, the fire (that descended from Heaven to consume the Korbanos on the Mizbei'ach), the Shechinah and the Urim ve'Tumim (the Names of Hashem that were placed in the folds of the Choshen Mishpat, which enabled to the Kohen Gadol to attain a certain level of Ru'ach ha'Kodesh). As we explained a little earlier, the Shechinah was not totally absent, but rather tended to appear sporadically.


But in time to come, when the third Beis-Hamikdash is built, the author concludes, Yisrael will be numerous like the sand by the seashore (like G-d promised Hoshei'a [2:1]). When that happens, the Divine Glory and Majesty will return in full force, just as the Navi Yeshayah prophesied (60:1) "Arise and shine, for your light has arrived, and the Glory of G-d shines upon you!"

* * *

Parshas Pearls
(Adapted from Rabeinu Bachye)

Judgement, Appeasement and War

"And Yehudah approached him (Yosef) " (44:18).

The Torah uses the word "Vayigash" a word that has connotations of judgement ("ve'nigshu el ha'mishpat u'sh'fatum" [Devarim 25:1]), appeasement ("Vayigshu B'nei Yisrael el Yehoshua" [Yehoshua 14:6]) and war ("Vayigash Yo'av ve'ho'om asher imo la'milchamah" [Shmuel 2, 10:13]).

Yehudah attempted to pacify Yosef in his 'anger', and to reason with him, whilst at the same time, he threatened him with all out war, should he refuse to relent.

In all likelihood, he took his cue from his father Ya'akov who prepared himself for three things in his confrontation with his brother Eisav: He sent him a gift (appeasement), he Davened (judgement) and he armed himself and his sons for battle (war).


Yosef the Diplomat

"And you will be close to me " (45:10).

Interestingly, Yosef insisted that his father and the entire family come down to Egypt, rather than that he provide for them in Eretz Cana'an. This would of course, have been far more convenient for them, not to mention the fact that they would not have then needed to leave Eretz Cana'an, something which Ya'akov was loath to do.

R. Bachye, citing the Ramban, explains that, had he chosen to send them regular provisions, the people would have suspected him of sending food supplies to a foreign country, in order to sell it, and to stockpile a fortune of money, in preparation of his leaving Egypt and returning to the country of his birth.

But now that they all came to live in Yosef's vicinity, he would have no trouble in obtaining permission from Paroh to provide them with their basic needs.


Yosef's Integrity

"And now you are commanded (to tell his brothers) 'Do this; Help yourselves to wagons for your children " (45:19).

Well aware of Yosef's incredible humility and integrity, Paroh knew that without express permission from himself, Yosef would not take a thing for himself or for his family, comments R. Bachye. That is why he found it necessary to order Yosef to take whatever he needed for his family.


Yehudah's Suffering

"And he sent his brothers and they went " (45:24).

All the brothers returned, including Binyamin, which means that Yehudah kept his promise to his father (that he would return safely with him).

The Gemara in Sotah (7b) however, based on the Pasuk in ve'Zos ha'B'rachah (33:7) describes how Yehudah had to suffer in the grave until Moshe Rabeinu Davened for him, his bones came together and his Neshamah ascended to the Heaven. This the Gemara attributes to the principle that a self-inflicted Niduy (Cherem) takes effect, even if it is attached to a condition that is fulfilled.

Rabeinu Bachye adds however, that this is only due to the fact that, whether Yehudah's condition would be fulfilled or not, depended upon others; but had it been entirely in his hands to carry it out, there would have been no reason for the Niduy to take effect once he had fulfilled it.


Nothing to Fear

" and he said to them 'Don't quarrel on the way' " (Ibid).

This is how Unklus translates "Al tirg'zu ba'darech". See also Rashi.

R. Bachye, citing the Ramban, explains that under normal circumstances, anybody transporting food in time of famine is afraid of robbers and pilferers, and that is certainly the case if he transports his household too, as Yosef's brothers were about to do. That is why Yosef found it necessary to reassure them not to be afraid. He sent them home laden with provisions, and with instructions not to delay, but to hurry home to their father immediately, and to return with their entire households. They had nothing to fear, he assured them, because his fame had spread to all the surrounding lands, and, due to his supreme powers, no-one would dare lay a hand on them or their property.

See also Ba'al ha'Turim (cited later on the same Pasuk).


Collecting All the Money

"And Yosef collected all the money " (47:14).

R. Bachye assumes that it took five years to collect all the money, as it is unlikely that he did so in one year, as it would appear from the Pasuk. It is natural, he explains, that in time of famine, one spends carefully, purchasing only what is absolutely necessary, with the result that money lasts a little longer than it would normally do. In the sixth year, he sold them corn for their cattle, whereas in the seventh year (which the Torah records as the second), he acquired them as slaves against their ration of corn.

But according to the Medrash which explains that the famine lasted only two years, and was stopped by Ya'akov's arrival in Egypt, we will need to explain the first and second years literally.

The question arises however, that if the famine stopped after two years, the people would suspect Yosef of lying, when the seven-year famine that he predicted lasted only two? The answer to that, says R. Bachye, is that the famine returned immediately returned after Ya'akov's death seventeen years later, seeing as Yosef had said nothing about the seven years necessarily being consecutive.


What Honour!

"And Yosef bound his chariot and he went up to meet his father in Goshen" (47:29).

There are two people, says the Medrash, who experienced honour the likes of which are unsurpassed - Yisro and Ya'akov. When Yisro arrived in the desert to visit Moshe at Har Sinai, the Pasuk informs us that "Moshe went out to meet his father-in-law. Now who in K'lal Yisrael would see Moshe, Aharon and the seventy elders (who presumably accompanied Moshe) leaving the camp and not follow them? Imagine then, Yisro's surprise, when thousands of people came to acknowledge his arrival. And the same with Ya'akov; Who would see the mighty Yosef going out to meet his father and would not join the ever-growing procession? So both Yisro and Ya'akov were afforded the sort of royal welcome the likes of which nobody else ever was, in fulfillment of the Pasuk in Yeshayah (24:23) " and there will be honour for its elders".


Who Wept on Whose Shoulders?

" and he fell on his neck, and he wept on his shoulders for a long time" (Ibid.)

Citing the Ramban, R. Bachye refutes the explanation that it was Yosef who fell on his father's neck and wept, as it would have been inappropriate for him to do that. What he would have done was to have kissed his father's hands or to have prostrated himself before him. It must therefore have been his father whose actions the Torah is describing. It was Ya'akov who wept 'again' (this is how the Ramban translates the word "Od" rather than "for a long time"), just as he had during the twenty-two years that Yosef was 'lost'. In any case, he concludes, we all know whether it is the father or the son who sheds more tears at a reunion of this nature, after having been separated for so many years!


Interesting, since Chazal maintain that it was Yosef who fell round his father's neck and wept; not Ya'akov, who was reciting the Sh'ma at that moment!

* * *


"And Yehudah approached him (VayigaSH eilaV YehudaH)" 44:18.

The last letters of these three words spell 'shoveh' - equal. 'I am your equal', Yehudah was telling Yosef. 'I too am a king, just like you'. And it is about this confrontation to which the Pasuk hints when it writes in Tehilim (48:5) "For behold the kings met ".


"Do you have a father or a brother?" (44:19).

Yosef had not asked them whether they had a mother, the Ba'al ha'Turim observes, because he knew that Le'ah as well as Rachel, was no longer alive.


"Vehoradtem es seivosi (and you will bring down my old age in evil to the grave)" 44:29.

by taking Binyamin down to Egypt.

Yosef uses the same word ("ve'horadtem") in the following chapter (Pasuk 13), when he says " and you will bring my father here".

The Ba'al ha'Turim compares this to a cow which refuses to enter the slaughter-house to be Shechted. So what does the owner do? He leads its baby calf in first, knowing that the mother will inevitably follow immediately.

And so it was with Ya'akov. G-d knew that Ya'akov was not in the least interested in going down to Egypt (to set Galus Mitzrayim in motion), so he sent Yosef there, in the knowledge that, as soon as Ya'akov discovered that he was there, he would be sure to follow.


"Come down to me (to Egypt)! Don't remain (in Cana'an)" 45:9.

The same word appears in Yechezkel (32:19) when G-d ordered Nevuchadnetzar "Redoh ve'Hoshk'voh es Areilim" (to go and lie with the uncircumcised) - in Gehinom (Hell).

This teaches us, comments the Ba'al ha'Turim, that Galus is comparable to Gehinom.

This is reminiscent of the Medrash (in connection with the B'ris bein ha'Besarim), which relates how G-d gave Avraham the option of choosing between Gehinom and Galus for his descendents (should they sin), and that he chose Galus.


"Ve'hinei einechem ro'os ki fi ha'medaber aleichem (Your eyes can see that it is my mouth that is speaking to you)" 45:12..

The Gematriyah of "Einechem ho'ro'os" is equivalent to that of 'her'eisi lochem ha'milah' (I have shown you that I am circumcised) - a hint that his greatest merit lay in his refusal to acquiesce to the advances of his mistress to commit adultery with her.

Whereas the Gematriyah of "ki fi ha'medaber aleichem" is equivalent to that of 'be'Eglah Arufah' ( a hint to convince his father that he was indeed Yosef, as the Parshah of Eglah Arufah was the last thing that they learnt together before he was sold to Egypt (see also Rashi, Pasuk 27). The Ba'al ha'Turim there points out that the word "Agolos" appears four times in this Parshah, as do the words "Eglah Arufah" in the Parshah of Eglah Arufah.


"And he said to them 'Don't make anybody angry along the way' " (45:24).

That is how some commentaries translate the words "Al tirg'zu ba'derech". What Yosef meant by this, says the Ba'al ha'Turim, was that the brothers should not take advantage of the fact that they were his relatives by walking across sown fields and destroying the crops (and the like).

See also Parshah Pearls on the same Pasuk.


"And G-d said to Yisrael in a vision of the night" (46:2).

There are seven Tagin (crowns) on the 'Siyn' of the word "le'Yisrael", says the Ba'al ha'Turim, hinting at the Pasuk "because a Tzadik falls seven times and arises" (Mishlei 24:17), which in turn, hints at the seven tzaros that Ya'akov suffered and overcame - that of Eisav, Lavan, Eisav's Angel, Dinah, Yosef, Shimon & Binyamin.

* * *

(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'Yoreid

It is a Mitzvah to being a Korban Oleh ve'Yoreid for the following sins: Tum'as Mikdash ve'Kodashav (a person who is an Av ha'Tum'ah who be'Shogeg entered the Mikdash be'Tum'ah, or who ate the meat of Kodshim); Shevu'as Bituy (i.e. someone who swore to do or not to do something, or a similar type of oath, and who then fails to fulfill his oath - be'Shogeg); and similarly, Shevu'as ho'Eidus (someone who swears to his friend that he is unable to testify on his behalf, when really he is - irrespective of whether he does so be'Shogeg or be'Meizid). These are the sins for which one is Chayav to bring a Korban Oleh ve'Yored (i.e. depending on one's financial status). For so the Torah writes in Vayikra (5:1) "And a person who sins and he hears the voice of an oath (a demand to substantiate his claim that he does not know testimony on behalf of his friend), in the event that he wears and does not testify, then he will bear his sin". And the Torah concludes "then he shall bring his guilt-offering to Hashem ". The Pasuk says nothing about forgetting, indicating that he is Chayav for Meizid as well as for Shogeg. Whereas by Tum'as Mikdash ve'Kodashav, the Torah writes "Or a person who touches anything that is Tamei and he forgets " , concluding "and he shall bring his guilt-offering". Actually, the Torah does not specifically mention that the person who was Tamei entered the Mikdash or ate Kodshim, but that is how the Pasuk is traditionally understood. Regarding the Chiyuv Kareis however, we do find, In Parshas Tzav (7:20/21 [see also Bamidbar 19:20]) that the Torah specifically sentences someone who eats the meat of the Shelamim sacrifice or who enters the Mikdash whilst his Tum'ah is on him to Kareis. And now that the Torah writes Kareis by a person who transgresses be'Meizid, we can apply the principle that wherever one is Chayav Kareis be'Meizid, one is Chayav to bring a Korban be'Shogeg. And the Torah writes here in connection with Shevu'as Bituy "Or a person who swears by uttering with his lips and he forgets then he shall bring his guilt-offering". And we know that this refers to a Korban Oleh ve'Yored, because the Torah adds "And if he cannot afford a lamb ".

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