subscribe.gif (2332 bytes)

by Zvi Akiva Fleisher

Back to This Week's Parsha | Previous Issues



Ch. 48, v. 5: "Efrayim u'Menasheh kiReuvein v'Shimon y'h'yu li" - The Nachal K'dumim writes that Menasheh is like Reuvane and Shimon because the tribe of Reuvane received its land inheritance in Trans-Jordan while the tribe of Shimon received its land inheritance in Eretz Yisroel. Menasheh is like these two tribes in that half the tribe received an inheritance in Trans-Jordan and the other half received it in Eretz Yisroel.

We find that Reuvane and Gad requested that their land parcel be in Trans-Jordan, while Menasheh made no such request. If so, why didn't this tribe merit to have its complete land inheritance in Eretz Yisroel? The Chizkuni in parshas Mikeitz answers that Menasheh was the person sent after the sons of Yaakov to retrieve the "purloined" goblet (44:4). When caught with the goods in Binyomin's satchel they rent their garments (44:13). Since they were guiltless of any wrongdoing regarding the goblet and were caused by Menasheh to rent their garments, measure for measure, Hashem likewise split Menasheh's tribe's inheritance in two, placing half of it outside Eretz Yisroel.

Ch. 48, v. 7: "Vaani b'vo'i miPadan meisoh olay Rochel b'eretz

Canaan......vo'ek'b're'hoh shom" - Rashi says that Yaakov told Yoseif that he did not bring Rochel "lo'oretz," into Beis Lechem to bury her in "the land." The Ramban and the Moshav Z'keinim ask that the location of Rochel's burial plot is in Eretz Yisroel, as this verse clearly states, "meisoh olay Rochel b'eretz Canaan." One answer the Moshav Z'keinim offers is that this particular spot was not Eretz Yisroel, although the surrounding area was. He also offers that "b'eretz Canaan" means on the way to Canaan, as is well known from the writings of the Maharal of Prague that when a person is headed to a certain location, it is considered as if he has already reached his destination, thus the angels of Eretz Yisroel met Yaakov upon his return outside the borders of Eretz Yisroel (Breishis 32:2, see Rashi).

Rabbi Ovadioh of Bartenuroh answer that "lo'oretz" means "to a populated area," and he buried Rochel away from a populated area, but it was in Eretz Yisroel.

The Sforno on the words "Va'yi'ken es chelkas haso'deh, Va'yatzev shom mizbei'ach" (Breishis 33:19-20), says that Yaakov first purchased the site before building an altar and offering praise to Hashem because without purchasing it, it had the status of chutz lo'oretz (until Yehoshua's conquest). Yaakov did not want to build an altar and sing Hashem's praises in chutz lo'oretz, in keeping with "Eich noshir es shir Hashem al admas neichor" (T'hilim 137:4). The Moshav Z'keinim on parshas Shmos by the story of Moshe's being asked to remove his footwear because of the hallowed ground he tread upon, also says that there was no Eretz Yisroel sanctity until after Yehoshua's conquest.

Had Yaakov taken Rochel's body to Beis Lechem, which was populated, he could have purchased a plot for her burial, thus investing it with the sanctity of Eretz Yisroel, as Avrohom did when he purchased the M'oras Hamachpeiloh. At the time of Rochel's interment the burial plot was considered outside of Eretz Yisroel. The Chasam Sofer says the same as the Sforno, but in a more elaborate fashion, on our verse.

Ch. 48, v. 20: "Y'simcho Elokim k'Efrayim v'chiMenasheh va'yo'sem es Efrayim lifnei Menasheh" - On the words in Bmidbar 2:18 "Degel macha'neh Efrayim ...... ben AmihuD," the Baal Haturim and Rabbeinu Efrayim say that this is the only verse in the Torah that begins and ends with the letter Dalet. This alludes to the fact that Efrayim is ahead of Menasheh in four matters, as the numerical value of Dalet is four. They are sheivet, degel, nachaloh, and korbon. This corresponds to the four times that Efrayim was mentioned ahead of Menasheh in the chapter dealing with Yaakov's blessing these two sons of Yoseif (Breishis 48:5,14, and twice in our verse 20). The verses of the four matters mentioned above are all in Bmidbar, 1:10 - 2:18,20 - 7:48,54, - 13:8,11.

Perhaps there is a different reason for Efrayim being mentioned before Menasheh four times. We know that Efrayim was given the primogeniture (firstborn) right over Menasheh. This entails a double portion for the firstborn (Dvorim 21:17). We find in two places that Menasheh is mentioned ahead of Efrayim. They are also in Bmidbar, 26:29,35 and 34:23,24. Thus we have Efrayim mentioned ahead of Menasheh in four out of six places, a double allotment, as is due to the firstborn.

Commentators explain that Menasheh is listed before Efrayim in parshios Pinchos and Massei, the last two of the six places, because at that point the Torah is directing its words to the generation that will enter Eretz Yisroel. The census there shows an increase of the population of the tribe of Menasheh beyond that of Efrayim, and accordingly mentions Menasheh first.

Possibly the order of Efrayim before Menasheh the first four times and of Menasheh before Efrayim the last two times is alluded to in the words of our verse. After Yaakov said "y'simcho Elokim k'Efrayim v'chiMenasheh" the verse adds "va'yo'sem es Efrayim lifnei Menasheh." What point of information is added by these last words? The verse clearly states that Yaakov mentioned Efrayim's name first. Perhaps the first statement tells us that Yaakov conferred the firstborn right upon Efrayim, thus allotting him four places where he appears ahead of Menasheh's two places. The addition of the words "va'yo'sem es Efrayim LIFNEI Menasheh" might be telling us that besides this double portion, he placed Efrayim before Menasheh in that Efrayim's preceding Menasheh will take place in the first four places as well.

Ch. 48, v. 20: "Va'yo'sem es Efrayim lifnei Menasheh" - We find in Bmidbar 1:52 "V'chonu bnei Yisroel ish al macha'neihu v'ish al diglo." These words teach us that each person of each tribe encamped in his designated location within his tribe and within his flank group. We find in 2:18 and 2:20 that Efrayim was the head of a group of three tribes while Menasheh was under Efrayim in that group, in spite of Menasheh's being older than Efrayim. The numerical value of the words "V'chonu bnei Yisroel ish al macha'neihu v'ish al diglo" is 1653, the same as "Va'yo'sem es Efrayim lifnei Menasheh" of our verse. This alludes to Efrayim being placed ahead of Menasheh as an encampment group leader with Menasheh being under hid leadership. (Rabbi Yaakov Orbach in L'oroh shel Torah)

Ch. 49 , v. 1: "Eis asher YIKROH es'chem b'acharis hayomim" - We know that the word YIKROH (sometimes spelled with an Alef at the end and sometimes with a Hei) means "will happen," thus indicating being subject to happenstance. This is similar to the verse in Dvorim 22:6, "Ki YIKO'REI kan tzipor l'fo'necho," which the gemara Chulin 139a says indicates that the mitzvoh only applies when one HAPPENS upon a bird nest, and not when one prepares the circumstances for the mitzvoh, "prat limzumon."

The Holy Admor of Satmar zt"l asks that regarding Yaakov's statement in our verse this terminology seems contrary to Torah thought. We find in the admonishments of parshas B'chukosai (Vayikroh 26:3,24,27,40,41) that in response to the attitude that things are happenstance Hashem reciprocates with strong medicine. He answers that the subject Yaakov wanted to relate to his sons was the time of the coming of Moshiach and the final redemption, as pointed out by Rashi. Regarding this, Yaakov wanted to teach that we are not to do actions to prompt Moshiach to come. We are only supposed to pray for his advent. This is clearly stated in the Medrash Tanchumo Dvorim #4 on the words "rav lochem sove es hohor ha'zeh" (Dvorim 2:3). The medrash states that Hashem made the bnei Yisroel make three vows (as mentioned in Shis Hashirim 2:7). One was "shelo yidchaku es ha'keitz," that no attempt should be made to FORCE the speeding up of the coming of Moshiach. The gemara Sanhedrin 97b says that the eagerness of calculating the time of the coming of Moshiach could even delay his coming. Thus regarding the coming of Moshiach "eis asher YIKROH," it will HAPPEN and no attempt should be made to force his coming.

Ch. 49, v. 15: "Va'yar m'nuchoh ki tov ...... va'yeit shichmo lisbole" - The Holy Rebbe Reb Simchoh Bunim of Parshis'cha interprets: If you see that calmness and rest, "m'nuchoh," is good, the way to achieve having "m'nuchoh" is through "va'yeit shichmo lisbole," taking adversities and tribulations in stride.

Ch. 50, v. 26: "Va'yomos Yoseif ben mei'oh vo'esser shonim" - The words of the Yalkut Shimoni remez #41 on parshas Breishis are well known. The Yalkut states that Odom was allotted a life span of 1,000 years. When he was shown a vision of future generations he saw that King Dovid would be a stillborn baby. Realizing the great potential that King Dovid would have, he graciously offered 70 years of his own life to be given to King Dovid. MVRHRH"G R' Yaakov Kamenecki zt"l writes that this is why the Torah says (5:5) "Va'y'h'yu kol y'mei Odom ASHER CHAI ......" These last two words seem superfluous. However, since he was allotted 1,000 years and only lived 930 years, the verse is telling us he should have lived longer, but since he gave away 70 years these are the years that he "actually lived." The Holy Zohar in parshas Vayishlach, pages 168a-b gives us a different calculation for King Dovid's 70 years. He says that Avrohom should have lived for 180 years just as his son Yitzchok did, but he gave 5 years away for King Dovid. Yaakov should have lived for 175 years, as did Avrohom, but he only lived 147 years since he gave away 28 years. Yoseif should have lived for 147 years as did his father Yaakov, but he gave away 37 years. These three donations add up to the 70 years of King Dovid's life. He adds that the majority of Dovid's life was donated by Yoseif because both he and Yoseif were kings. The words of the Holy Zohar disagree with numerous medrashim and gemoros which state that Avrohom lost 5 years of his life because of Eisov, Yaakov lost 33 years because of the complaint he verbalized to Paroh, and Yoseif lost 10 years because of his father Yaakov's being called "your servant" ten times in front of Yoseif, or because of an aspect of the incident with Zolicho the wife of Poti Phera.

In any case, the source for Odom's being allotted a life span of 1,000 years is based on Hashem's telling Odom that on the DAY that he would eat from the "eitz hadaas" he would die (2:17). If so, why didn't Odom die on the first day of his life, the day he ate from the "eitz hadaas?" The answer is that 1,000 years are considered as one day in Hashem's eyes, as the verse in T'hilim 90:4 says "Ki elef shonim b'einecho k'yom esmol." This is understandable according to the Yalkut mentioned above, that Odom was originally allotted 1,000 years. However, according to the Zohar, Odom never gave 70 years of his life to King Dovid. If so, why didn't he live a full millenium? Rashi overtly asks this question and gives an answer. Where is this Rashi and what is his answer? Answer next week.

With the end of our parsha we conclude the parshios that deal with the sale of Yoseif and the direct effects it had upon him, his father, brothers, and their families, ending with the descent of all the bnei Yisroel to Egypt. The key act that brought all this about was the SALE OF YOSEIF, "m'chiras Yoseif." The words "M'CHIRAS YOSEIF" have the numerical value of 826. There are many points of the story that have the equal mathematical value. A list of most of them is offered with extra words in some verses that are not part of the calculation added in parentheses. They are given only to clue in the reader who will not look up the verses to easily identify the thrust of the verses or phrases.


37:22 - "L'maan hitzil oso mi'yodom." Reuvane's attempt to save Yoseif from being killed by his brothers

37:36 - "El Mitzrayim l'Photiphar." Where Yoseif was sold as a slave

39:15,16 - "Va'yonos vayeitzei hachutzoh, Vatonach bogdo." His awesome test that led to his incarceration

39:15,16 - "Vayeitzei hachutzoh, Vatonach bigdo etzloh." His awesome test that led to his incarceration

41:5 - "(Va'yachalom) sheinis v'hi'nei sheva shibolim." An all important component of Paroh's dream that indicated that its interpretation had an agricultural connotation

41:40 - "Atoh si'h'yeh (al beisi)." Yoseif's being given the position of Viceroy of Egypt

41:54,55 - "Hoyoh lechem, Vati'rav kol." The seven years of hunger

beginning, effecting even outlying countries and causing the bnei Yaakov to descend to Egypt

43:22 - "(V'chesef acheir horadnu) v'yo'deinu lishbor ochel lo yodanu." Yoseif's scheme to bring them back again, this time with Binyomin

44:9 - "Mei'avodecho vo'meis v'gam anachnu ni'h'yeh (ladoni laavodim)." Accepting upon themselves the full brunt of punishment for being caught with Yoseif's goblet

46:6,7 - "Zaro ito, bonov uv'nei (vonov ito)." The descent of the entire family of Yaakov to Egypt

47:13 - "V'lechem ayin b'chol ho'oretz ki cho'veid horo'ov." The utter lack of food, which brought about the filling of the coffers of Egypt that would eventually be emptied by the bnei Yisroel upon their exodus 48:19 - "Ochiv hakotone yigdal mi'menu v'zaro y'h'yeh m'lo hagoyim." Yoseif's two sons being blessed by their grandfather Yaakov shortly before his death 50:2 "Va'yachantu horofim es (Yisroel)." The promise to have Yaakov brought back to Eretz Yisroel for burial being fulfilled, hence the required embalming procedure.


21:16 - "Lo yuchal l'va'keir es ben ho'ahuvoh." Yaakov attempted to give priority to the firstborn of Rochel over the firstborn of Leah, and it met with dire consequences.

21:22 - "V'chi y'h'yeh v'ish chait mishpat (movves)." Yoseif, who was called ISH by Paroh, "Hanimtzo cho'zeh ISH" (Breishis 41:38), was lacking (CHEIT means lacking, as in "V'hoyisi ani uvni Shlomo CHATO'IM" in M'lochim 1:1:21) "mishpat movves." In spite of the brothers saying that Yoseif deserved to be killed (Breishis 37:20), he was not deserving of a judgement of death. He was innocent.

QUESTION: With the end of our parsha we conclude the parshios that deal with Yoseif being centre-stage. Yoseif has the appellation "Yoseif haTZADIK." The Holy Zohar on Breishis page 194b says that this title was bestowed on him for his withstanding the awesome test of sexual passions when being seduced by the wife of Poti Phera. Control in this field is called "midas ha'y'sode." The verse in Mishlei 10:25 says, "v'TZADIK y'sode olom," hence the title TZADIK. The Baalei Tosfos say that the appellation TZADIK is given only to Noach and Yoseif who each fed the masses when there was no food available. We find the title TZADIK used in this vein in the well known verses in T'hilim 145:15,16, "Ei'nei chole eilecho y'sa'beiru v'Atoh nosein lohem es ochlom b'ito." Immediately following extolling Hashem for sustaining all creatures with food the verse says "TZADIK Hashem."

Regarding Noach it is well known that he is called TZADIK in the first verse of the parsha bearing his name, "Ei'leh toldos Noach Noach ish TZADIK tomim hoyoh b'dorosov" (Breishis 5:9). What is the earliest source for this title being bestowed on Yoseif? Answer next week.

With the conclusion of Sefer Breishis, we end the stories of the creation of the world and the activities of our forefathers, Avrohom, Yitzchok, and Yaakov. Sefer Breishis is called "Sefer Ha'yoshor" in Yehoshua 10:13 and Shmuel 2:1:18. The gemara Avodoh Zoroh 25a explains that "Sefer Ha'yoshor" refers to the book of Avrohom, Yitzchok, and Yaakov, as found in parshas Bolok, "Tomose nafshi mose Y'SHORIM" (Bmidbar 23:10). The Ovos are called Y'SHORIM because, although they had not received the Torah, they followed its ways because of an unswerving sense of "yashrus," straightness.

A great Chassidic leader once said that the book of Breishis precedes the rest of the Torah because of the statement of the Tono D'vei Eliyohu Rabo Breishis #1 and M.R. Vayikroh 9:3, "Derech eretz kodmoh laTorah." Similarly, we must first learn from the actions of our forefathers how to behave as decent human beings before we are ready to receive the Torah. It is interesting to note that the numerical value of "derech eretz" equals that of "hayoshor," 515.

May our study of Sefer Breishis have instilled into our innermost depths the propensity towards proper behaviour before we go on to the next four books of the Holy Torah.



Back to This Week's Parsha | Previous Issues

This article is provided as part of Shema Yisrael Torah Network
Permission is granted to redistribute electronically or on paper,
provided that this notice is included intact.

For information on subscriptions, archives, and
other Shema Yisrael Classes,
send mail to
Jerusalem, Israel