by Zvi Akiva Fleisher
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SEDRAH SELECTIONS PARSHAS VA'Y'CHI 5764 BS"D
Ch. 47, v. 29: "V'osiso imodi chesed ve'emes" - And you shall do with me kindness and truth - Rashi explains that the kindness one does with the dead is "kindness of truth," because one does not look forward to recompense, to repayment of kindness. Getting very technical with Rashi's wordage, we can ask why this would be called "kindness of TRUTH" rather than of no repayment. As well, why does Rashi say that one does not "look forward" to recompense? Why not simply say that one EXPECTS no recompense?
The Sefer B'eir Sheva printed in Prague in 5575 at the end of "shaar teshuvoh" writes in the name of the Noda b'Yehudoh that there is no kindness that a person does that he does not expect to receive a reward, even a kindness does for a deceased person. Even though one will not receive kindness in return from the dead person, but he will receive his reward in the world to come. The difference between doing a kindness for a live person and doing it for the dead is as follows: When one does a kindness for a live person, it is possible to create a false picture of how great the benefit is, or how much effort was put into doing the kindness. According to the impression that the beneficiary has, the reward received by the benefactor will vary, so it is possible to receive FALSE reward, undeserved reward. When doing a kindness for a dead person one receives no reward from him and only receives reward from Hashem, whether in this world or the next. One cannot fool Hashem, hence any recompense is TRUTHFUL, accurate reward. This explains the terminology "chesed shel emes," kindness that will only be rewarded in TRUTH. Medrash Halacha raises the following question: How can Rashi say that one does not anticipate reward for doing kindness with the deceased, the gemara M.K. 28b says that he who does kindness with the deceased knows that people will reciprocate and have him eulogized and properly buried. He answers that this is why Rashi was particular to express himself with, "she'eino mitza'peh," that he does not "look forward" to, as one does not look forward to the kindness accorded him, as he does not look forward to his demise.
Ch. 47, v. 30: "Un'sosani miMitzrayim" - And you shall take me from Egypt - The mishnoh Nozir (gemara 65a) says that if one exhumes a dead person to rebury him somewhere else, he should also take along "tfusoso." The gemara says that this is derived from our verse. Read "Un'sosani miMitzrayim" as "and you shall take me along with the earth of Egypt." The gemara goes on to say that the requirement is t take all dug up loose earth plus three finger-breadths of solid earth from below the body. The R"I of Gash in his commentary on the gemara B.B. 101a explains that the decomposing body and its fluids seep this far into the ground and this amount of earth is considered like the body itself, hence this requirement.
The obvious problem with this being derived from our verse is raised by the Baa'lei Tosfos in Hadar Z'keinim. Yaakov was never buried in Egypt, even temporarily, so there was no requirement to take along any earth. They answer in the name of Rabbeinu Chaim that the gemara understood Yaakov's request to not be buried in Egypt to span two verse, the previous one and ours. ".. please do not bury me in Egypt. And when I will rest with my forefathers, i.e. die, 'if you will not comply, but rather, will bury me in Egypt, then you will be required to "un'sosani miMitzrayim,'" to carry me out with some earth from Egypt."
Ch. 48, v. 5: "Efrayim u'Menasheh kiReuvein v'Shimon yi'h'yu li" - Efrayim and Menasheh shall be to me like Reuvein and Shimon - Pirkei d'Rebbi Eliezer chapter #36 derives from these words that grandchildren are considered as if they are children, since Yaakov equated these two grandchildren to his own children. The R"if brings the words of the following verse to prove this point, "Umolad't'cho asher holadto acharei'hem l'cho yi'h'yu," that those who are born after them are to you. Since we have no record of Yoseif having any more children, we must say that Yaakov is referring to children born to Efrayim and Menasheh. Only Yaakov's great-grandchildren are to Yoseif, but Efrayim and Menasheh themselves are to be considered Yaakov's own children, hence we see "bnei vonim ha'rei heim k'vonim."
The Haflo'oh explains that the Ri"f is reluctant to use the source of Pirkei d'Rebbi Eliezer because we can say that Yaakov only equated them to his own actual children for being calculated as two tribes by virtue of a directive from Hashem, a prophecy that one of the tribes will later split into two. Yaakov chose to bestow this benefit upon Yoseif's children, but there is no proof from here that "bnei vonim ha'rei heim k'vonim."
Ch. 48, v. 14: "Si'keil es yodov ki Menasheh habchor" - He placed his hands wisely in spite of Menasheh's being the first-born - This is the translation of these words according to Rashi and the Ibn Ezra. A number of other explanations were offered in Sedrah Selections parshas Va'y'chi 5759. Another, most innovative explanation: Simply translate KI as "because." The seeming difficulty is that if you translate KI as "because," it goes against logic. Since Menasheh was the first-born he should have received his blessing through Yaakov's right hand, the more prominent hand. The Ram"a of Panu in Asoroh Maamoros explains that the first-born was a most prominent member of each family at that time. This continued throughout the years in Egypt. We see that Egypt's first-born were smitten. This is because they were the leaders and mentors of their family. Similarly by the bnei Yisroel a first-born had the status of a Kohein. Yaakov and Eisov vied for primogeniture rights. Thus this verse is saying that because Menasheh was the first-born he absorbed all the impurities imparted to Osnas, his mother, from Sh'chem, her father, that Efrayim was untainted by this impurity, and therefore Yaakov favoured Efrayim to receive the dominant
blessing. Ch. 48, v. 21: "V'heishiv es'chem el eretz avoseichem" - And he has returned you to the land of your forefathers - Yaakov's assurance was that Hashem would bring them back in the future, so why doesn't the verse say "v'yoshiv"? Yaakov was relating to Yoseif that Hashem's promise is as good as done. (Rabbeinu Tovioh)
Ch. 48, v. 22: "Sh'chem ached al achecho" - One Sh'chem over your brothers - Rashi first offers that this refers literally to the city of Sh'chem. He then alternatively offers that the word "sh'chem" means a portion, and that it refers to Yoseif's meriting that his two sons become separate tribes. Tosfos Sho'leim explains that Rashi offers a second explanation because according to the first one, taking Sh'chem took place with Yaakov's sword and bow, and the verse says that the surrounding communities did not attack because they feared the bnei Yisroel (Breishis 35:5). Rabbeinu Ovadioh of Bartenura resolves this by saying that the surrounding communities did not attack after they left the city of Sh'chem, but while there they did fight. Alternatively, Yaakov girded himself with his sword and bow in preparation for war, but it never took place. Rabbeinu Yehudoh Chalavah offers that the communities abutting Sh'chem fought them, but "svivosei'hem," those that were further afield, did not.
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