by Zvi Akiva FleisherBack to this week's parsha| Previous Issues
PARSHAS VAYICHI 5759
Chapter 47, v. 28: "Vayichi" - Rashi points out that this parsha contains no spacing prior to its beginning, which all other parshios do have. He says that this alludes to our parsha being "sealed." This indicates that from the time of the death of Yaakov, the eyes and hearts of the bnei Yisroel were sealed by the difficulties of the servitude. How do we know that the servitude began with the death of Yaakov?
The Maskil L'Dovid answers that in 50:4, Yosef requested permission to bring his father to burial in the land of Canaan. Rather than approach Paroh directly, Yosef asked Paroh's ministers to intercede on his behalf. We see from here a weakening of the esteem in which Yosef was held. Had he retained his stature, he would not have needed an intermediary. However, the M.R. 100:4 comments that Yosef could not appear in front of Paroh, as he was in an unkempt state because of being an "onen," a mourner, thus seemingly refuting this proof.
Since there is no spacing before Vayichi, how indeed do we know that it is the beginning of a new parsha? The Maharal of Prague, in his work Gur Aryeh, answers simply, that we have a tradition handed down by Ezra Hasofer, informing us where each parsha begins.
The Bchor Shor (Acharon) proves that Vayichi is a new parsha. The last verse in Vayigash ends with, "And they were very fruitful, and they multiplied greatly." We know that the bnei Yisroel did not multiply greatly until there was some level of servitude, as the verse says (Shmos 1:12), "And as they afflicted them, so did they multiply." Rashi says that the servitude only began after Yaakov's death, which takes place in our parsha. The gemara P'sochim 6b says that although the Torah is not specifically in chronological order, this is only so regarding matters of one parsha in relation to matters of a different parsha, but within each parsha, the events must be in chronological order. If the beginning of Vayichi would be a continuum with the end of Vayigash, how could the bnei Yisroel multiply greatly BEFORE the servitude even began with the death of Yaakov? We must therefore say that these are two separate parshios, since the last phrase in Vayigash is chronologically out of order. (Pardes Yosef)
However, the Rashbam (47:29) says that the true beginning of our parsha is 47:27, (Vayeishev Yisroel etc.), but the congregations did not want to end parshas Vayigash with the details of how Paroh became owner of the land. This seems to be contrary to both the Gur Aryeh and the Bchor Shor.
Ch. 47, v. 28: "Vayichi" - The Baal Haturim says that this word equals 34. Yaakov experienced only 34 happy years, 17 years from Yosef's birth until he was sold, plus another 17 years from the time Yaakov found out that Yosef was still alive until his death. The Baal Haturim also points out that just as Yaakov sustained Yosef for 17 years, Yosef supported Yaakov for 17 years in Mitzrayim.
Ch. 47, v. 28: "Va'y'hi" - When the Torah totals the years of Yitzchok's life (35:28), it says "va'y'h'yu". Why the change? The Baalei Tosfos answer that "va'y'hi" equals 31, alluding to the 31 years of happiness which Yaakov experienced, 14 years in Yeshivas Eiver, and the final 17 years of his life.
Ch.47, v. 29: "Y'MEI Yisroel" - Why "Y'MEI" in the plural and not "yom," as we find by Yitzchok (27:2), "Lo yodati YOM mosi?" The Tosfos Brocho answers with the gemara B.M. 87a which says that until the time of Yaakov, no one became sick before his death. Yaakov prayed for sickness before death so that one would have the opportunity to put his affairs in order prior to his death. Until this time, one's death took place in a day. Beginning with Yaakov, illness preceded death, so it was considered that death took a number of days, hence the plural expression.
Ch. 47, v. 29: "Chesed ve'emes" - The Baal Haturim says that "emes" stands for: Alef - Orone, Mem - Mitoh, Tof - Tachrichin.
The Ksav Sofer says that the "chesed" is not burial, as this is not specifically a kindness to the deceased, but rather to the living (as per Sanhedrin 46b, Tos. d.h. "Lo"). The kindness is in accommodating the wishes of Yaakov to be buried in the place that he specified, in the M'oras Hamachpeiloh.
Ch.47, v. 29: "Al noh sik'b'reini b'Mitzroyim" - Rashi gives us three reasons for Yaakov's not wanting to be buried in Egypt. 1) To avoid the discomfort of being interred where the earth will become infested with lice. 2) To avoid the discomfort of having to roll through passageways to reach Eretz Yisroel at the time of "t'chiyas ha'meisim." 3) To avoid being deified by the Egyptians. What is the problem with being deified? This is the choice of the Egyptians, and is no fault of Yaakov. The Baalei Tosfos answer that we see that Hashem punishes the object of one's deification, even when it is inanimate, as it says (Shmos 12:12), "and in all the gods of Egypt I will visit punishment."
Ch. 47, v. 31: "Va'yishova lo" - Why did Yaakov extract a promise from Yosef to bring his body back to Canaan? Hadn't Hashem already promised Yaakov that he would be returned to Canaan (46:4)? The Rivo in the name of Rabbeinu Tam answers: 1) That Hashem's promise might be fulfilled only after he was reduced to being bones. Yaakov wanted to be returned and interred while his complete body was still intact. 2) That Hashem's promise might be fulfilled after a lengthy passage of time. Yaakov wanted to be returned and interred shortly after his death.
Ch. 48, v. 1: "Va'yomer l'Yosef" - Who said to Yosef? Rashi (Tanchumoh 6) says that this was Efraim. Rabbi Moshe Baal Tosfos says that this is indicated in the word "va'yomer." The letter "vov" can be switched for a letter "pei" in the "atbash" system, and the resulting letters spell Efraim.
Ch. 48, v. 1-2: "HINEI ovicho choleh ......, va'yeishev al hamitoh" - The gemara N'dorim 39b says that a person born in the same Zodiac sign as another (ben gilo) takes away a sixtieth of his sickness upon visitation (bikur cholim). Yosef was a "ben gilo" of his father (M.R. 84:8). Yosef was told "HINEI," which equals 60, behold your father has all 60 sixtieths of his sickness. Upon Yosef's visitation, "va'yis'chazek Yisroel," and Yisroel became somewhat strengthened, as Yosef removed a sixtieth of his disorder, "va'yeishev al HAMITOH," and Yisroel only had 59 sixtieths of his sickness left, the gematria of "HAMITOH." (The GR"A of Vilna)
Ch. 48, v. 5: "Efraim u'Menashe ki'Reuvane v'Shimon" - The Baal Haturim says that Efraim and Menashe equal Reuvane and Shimon. Although it is off by one, this is considered as equal.
Ch. 48, v. 7: "Vo'ek'b're'ho shom" - Rashi comments that Yaakov didn't even bring Rochel to Beis Lechem to bring her "L'Eretz." The Ramban asks that the burial place of Rochel is in Eretz Yisroel. The Bartenuroh answers that Rashi's "L'Eretz" means to the CITY of Beis Lechem.
Ch. 48, v. 14: "Sikeil es yodov KI Menashe ha'bchor" - The word "KI" is problematic.
1) Rashi (according to one opinion) and Ibn Ezra say that it is like "af ki," - even though.
2) Rashbam, Rivo, and the Ohr Hachaim Hakodosh explain that Yaakov switched his hands BECAUSE Menashe was the first-born. Because Menashe was the b'chor and was placed in the position of greater prominence, to Yaakov's right, Yaakov switched his hands, enabling him to give Efraim the blessing with his right hand.
3) Chizkuni says that BECAUSE Menashe was the first-born, Yaakov switched his HANDS, so that Menashe would at least be on Yaakov's right side when receiving his blessing. Had Menashe not been the first-born, Yaakov would not have switched his hands, but would have switched his grandsons' positions. In this vein the K'hilas Yitzchok, in the name of Rabbi Ben Zion of Shkud says that although Efraim received his blessing through the right hand of Yaakov, Efraim must remember that he was on the left side. This reminder was instilled by Hashem by giving the descendants of Efraim the nature to pronounce a "shin" as a "sin" should be pronounced (see Novi Shoftim 12:6). The difference between a "shin" and a "sin" is where the dot is located. A dot to the right indicates a "shin," and one to the left a "sin." Efraim pronounced both as a "sin," where the dot is to the LEFT, a powerful reminder that their tribe's ancestor stood to the LEFT of Yaakov when receiving his blessing.
Assuming that Yaakov criss-crossed his hands when blessing Efraim and Menashe, which of Yaakov's hands was the upper one? Bring a source .
Ch. 48, v. 15: "Va'y'voreich es Yosef" - Which blessing did Yosef get? The Ramban, Rashbam, and Chizkuni say that through Yosef's sons receiving a blessing, it was as if Yosef himself received it. The Ohr Hachaim Hakodosh answers with a M.R. Bmidbar (11:2) that says that Hashem gave the key (the power) to bless to Avrohom, who in turn gave it to Yizchok, who passed it on to Yaakov, who gave it to Yosef. This is what is meant with "va'y'voreich es Yosef." (In the M.R. it actually says that Yaakov gave the power of blessing to all 12 tribes.)
Ch. 48, v. 15: MEI'ODI ad hayom HA'ZEH" - MEI'ODI equals 130, the years of Yaakov's life in Canaan, and HA'ZEH equals 17, his last years in Egypt. (Arugas Habosem)
Ch. 48, v. 15: "Horo'eh" - The Ramban translates this as "Who is my FRIEND," rather than the Targum's translation of "Who is my sustainer."
Ch. 48, v. 18: "Lo chein ovi" - The Rivo explains as per his opinion above in 48:14, that Yosef thought that Yaakov assumed that Menashe, the first-born, would be to Yosef's right, and therefore end up to the left of Yaakov. Yosef therefore said, "It is not as you think, my father, that Menashe is to your left. I positioned him to your right." Do not interpret the words to mean, "No, my father. It is wrong to bless my first-born with your left hand." This is against an open halacha in Y.D. #240.
Ch. 48, v. 22: "Sh'chem achad" -
1) Rashi says (M.R. 97:6) that this means the city of Sh'chem was given to Yosef. Indeed, Yosef was eventually buried there.
2) Ibn Ezra says that it means a portion, as we find in Shmos 12:34, and Tzefania 3:9.
3) The Targum Yerushalmi says that this refers to the special coat of Odom Horishon which became Nimrod's, then Eisov's, and then Yaakov's. This coat was given to Yosef. It would seem that according to this, "sh'chem" would mean SHOULDER, as this coat would cover Yosef's shoulders.
Ch. 48, v. 22: "B'charbi u'v'kashti" - The Targum Unkeles discards the simple meaning and says instead that these words mean prayer. When fighting with an enemy, a bow is used first to shoot from a distance, and only afterwards, during hand to hand combat, is a sword used. Since the order here is reversed, the Targum departs from the literal translation (Rabbi Avrohom Aharon from Kostantin).
In fighting the forces which oppose spiritual growth, it makes sense for the sword to precede the bow and arrow. When the yetzer hora attacks initially, one responds with hand to hand combat, similar to using a sword. If one is successful in distancing the yetzer hora, he should still fight the yetzer hora from a distance, as with a bow and arrow.
Also, prayer is compared to a sword, as is stated in T'hilim 149:6, "v'cherev pifios b'yodom. The word "b'kashti" can also be read "bakoshosi," my request. The Holy Admor of Kotzk says that prayer is compared to a bow and arrow, since just as with a bow, the stronger one draws the arrow back and closer to his heart, the greater distance it reaches, so also with prayer. The more effort one puts into saying the prayers from the depths of his heart, the further they go in reaching the Holy Throne.
Ch. 49, v. 1: "B'acharis ha'yomim" - Rashi (as per gemara P'sochim 56a) says that Yaakov wanted to disclose when the coming of Moshiach would take place. At that moment, Hashem hid from him the wellsprings of wisdom, and Yaakov was unable to disclose this information. The M.R. 99:5 says that Yaakov, upon wanting to tell when the "end of days" (keitz) would come, remarked that among all the names of his children, the letters kuf and tzaddi do not appear, indicating that they were not deserving of the "keitz," which is spelled kuf, tzaddi. They responded by saying that it is not due to any sin on their part, as the letters ches and tes, which spell "chet" - sin, also do not appear. The Chasam Sofer says that the above dialogue is alluded to in the gemara Yoma 9b which says that the earlier generations whose "chet" was not disclosed, also did not merit to have their "keitz" disclosed.
Ch. 49, v. 5: "M'cheiroseihem" - Rashi (Tanchumoh 9) says that this means their weapons of war. The Chizkuni says it means "their acquaintance," as in M'lochim 2:12:6. Klei chomos, obtaining objects of spoil, m'cheiroseihem, has brought about their special relationship.
B'derech drush - Rashi on 50:5 "asher korisi" says in his first interpretation that it means "I have dug." Klei chomos have been their pitfall, which they have DUG for themselves.
Ch. 49, v. 9: "Mi'teref bni oliso" - The Sefer Chasidim #504 says that through Yehudoh's suggestion to sell Yosef, rather than allowing him to be "torn" by snakes and scorpions, Yehudoh was elevated to kingship. Just as Yosef became king at the age of thirty, so also Yehudoh's descendant, Dovid, reigned at age thirty, the gematria of Yehudoh.
Ch. 49, v. 14: "Yisochor chamor gorem" - Rabbi Levi Yitzchok of Berditchev interprets: "Yeish sochor," the reason there is reward for our doing mitzvos is "chamor gorem," our physicality causes us to have challenges; hence we deserve a reward.
Ch. 49, v. 17: "Va'yipol rochvo ochor" - And its rider will fall down. Targum Unkeles on "va'yipol" says "viMA'GER." This is the translation of "u'sMA'GER" in our daily amidah and also of "MI'GER misko'm'mov" in the Shabbos z'miros. Rabbeinu Bachyei in parshas T'za'veh explains the nature of the breast-plate stone (Leshem) of the tribe of Dan. When it is shaped and polished to its greatest brilliance, it is convex. One who looks at it sees his image inverted, face down. (Try it with the back of a highly polished spoon.) This alludes to the nature of Dan who throws a rider backwards off his horse, who is then seen upside down.
Ch. 50, v. 2: "Va'yachantu horofim" - Rabbeinu Bachyei and the responsa of Tzofnas Paa'nei'ach #20 both say that the embalming process did not involve the Egyptians touching the body of Yaakov.
Why did Yosef have his father embalmed? The Ohr Hachaim Hakodosh says that Yosef knew that his father was so holy that his body would not decompose, as we find was the case with Rabbi Eliezer, the son of Rabbi Shimon (B.M. 84b). He feared that the Egyptians would then deify Yaakov. To avoid this, Yosef had his father's body embalmed.
Ch. 50, v. 5: "Asher KORISI li" - Rashi gives three interpretations for Korisi: 1) I have dug. 2) I have purchased. 3) I have made a pile. Yaakov piled up all the gold and silver he had amassed at the home of Lovon, and gave it to Eisov for his claim to a share in the M'oras Hamachpeiloh (M.R. Shmos 31:17). What has Rashi added on over the previous "I have purchased," beyond that the word means "piled?" Either way it is the same plea to ask to be buried in the plot which Yaakov purchased. Possibly, this third pshat makes a very compelling case to grant permission. We know that Avrohom gave away his possessions that were amassed outside of Eretz Yisroel (Pirkei d'Rebbi Eliezer ch. 30) to the children of his concubine (25:6). Yaakov similarly gave Eisov the gold and silver he amassed in chutz lo'oretz when he worked for Lovon. Rashi (46:6) in the name of the M.R. Shmos 31:17 quotes Yaakov as saying,"Nich'sei chutz lo'oretz einom k'dei li." This is the power of the claim according to Rashi's third pshat. Yaakov was so strongly connected to Eretz Yisroel that he even gave away (to Eisov who had a false claim) the fortune he had amassed in chutz lo'oretz. He surely doesn't deserve to be buried in chutz lo'oretz.
Ch. 50, v. 26: "Va'yomos Yosef" - Even though upon becoming Egypt's viceroy, his name was changed to Tzofnas Paa'nei'ach, and he ruled over Egypt for eighty years, he still died as YOSEF, retaining his name and the values of his family. (Otzar Chaim)
ANSWER TO LAST WEEK'S QUESTION:
The indications that the brothers were not in solitary confinement are: The word "MISHMAR." The Seichel Tov says this means house arrest. Seemingly they are free to roam around in the building. Also the word "VA'YE'E'SOF" indicates that they were assembled as a GROUP. These are sufficient indications to the Tosfos Hasholeim to not accept the idea of a police line-up, which is actually the answer of Rabbi Chaim Halevi of Brisk.
Reb Sh. S. wrote that I overlooked one place where Chanukah is mentioned in the Mishnah, Moed Koton 3:9.
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