by Zvi Akiva Fleisher
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SEDRAH SELECTIONS PARSHAS VA'YICHI 5767 BS"DCh. 47, v. 29: "V'osiso imodi chesed ve'emes al noh tik'b'reini b'Mitzroyim" - And you shall do kindness and truth with me please do not bury me in Egypt - Rashi explains that burial of a deceased is a kindness of truth, meaning that it is pure, as the one who involves himself in the burial of a deceased will not receive any reward, as the deceased cannot pay back the kindness. This is puzzling, as the mishnoh Sotoh 9b clearly states that as a reward for Yoseif's carrying out Yaakov's burial wishes, he was likewise rewarded with the merit of having Moshe take responsibility for his casket.
Yaakov knew that eventually all the bnei Yisroel would leave Egypt. He could have been temporarily buried in Egypt and at the time of the exodus he would have been brought to Eretz Yisroel for burial. However, he did not want to be buried there even temporarily. This was the "chesed shel emes" he requested of Yoseif, to not be interred even temporarily. The word "noh" should not be translated as "please," but rather, as "now." "Don't bury me in Egypt even if it is just for now." (Mahara"l Tzintz in M'lo Ho'omer)
Ch. 48, v. 8: "Mi ei'leh" - Who are these - The Ohr Hachaim Hakodosh asks that this is most puzzling. Yaakov was exposed to Yoseif's two sons for the past 14 years. How could he not recognize them?
Rabbi Mendel of Riminov explains the verse in Shmos 16:15, "Va'yomru ish el ochiv mon hu," - and they said a man to his brother, who is he, that once a person consumed manna it so totally purified him that his appearance totally changed. This was Moshe's response, "hu ha'lechem," it is due to the bread. The gemara Sanhedrin 14a says that he who is elevated to a new position has all his sins forgiven. Previously, in verse 5, Yaakov had already said that Ephraim and Menasheh would now have the status of tribal heads, a new, elevated position. This required purging of their sins. They so drastically changed, as they were now sinless. This is why Yaakov did not recognize them. (Rabbi Shlomo Ehrenreich)
Ch. 48, v. 11: "R'o fo'necho lo filolti v'hi'nei he'roh osi Elokim gam es za'recho" - Seeing your face I did not imagine and behold Elokim has also shown me your children - Yaakov's seeing Yoseif is expressed in the simple infinitive verb form, while seeing his children is expressed in the causative, "he'roh," He has SHOWN me. Rabbi Chaim Paltiel in the name of his teacher answers that Hashem had promised Yaakov, "Goy ukhal goyim," that he would have 12 tribes as his descendants. Although Binyomin was born after this, when Yoseif went missing he thought that Yoseif was dead, and only 11 sons remained. He concluded that the blessing was negated as a result of his shortcomings. Now that he saw Yoseif alive, he realized that "goy ukhal goyim," a tribe, one, i.e. Binyomin, and a congregation of tribes, two, Menasheh and Ephraim, were SHOWN to him in that prophecy.
Ch. 48, v. 15: "Asher his'halchu avosai l'fonov" - What bearing does this expression have to do with Yaakov's blessing Yoseif's sons? In an earlier edition on parshios Noach and Chayei Soroh, where we find that Chazal differentiate between "es hoElokim his'ha'lech Noach" (6:9), and "asher hi'halachti l'fonov" (24:40) by Avrohom. We likewise note this difference by Avrohom in 17:1, "his'ha'leich l'fonai ve'h'yei somim." Noach needed support in his pursuit of Hashem, while Avrohom did not. We offered another insight into the difference. The stress is on "l'fonai" or "l'fonov" and by Noach, where this word form is not used. "L'fonai/l'fonov" connote creating a spiritual environment AHEAD of Hashem, i.e. where there is a limited or almost empty of spirituality situation. Noach was unable to convince his generation to repent. Avrohom brought many souls under the wings of Torah ideology.
When Eliezer asked Avrohom what to do if the girl he had in mind for Yitzchok would refuse to become his wife. Avrohom responded with This is why Avrohom responded to Eliezer, "Hashem asher hi'halachti l'fonov yishlach malocho itoch v'hitzliach darkecho." This is a most enigmatic response. How was Avrohom sure of success? Why did he invoke the "his'halachti l'fonov" phrase? As just explained, these words mean to create a spiritual environment where it is lacking. Eliezer told Avrohom that he realistically feared that the maiden would have no interest in becoming the wife of such a holy person. She surely had no education, nor appreciation of this, as she grew up in a spiritual vacuum. It is highly unlikely that she would be a self-made tzadekes. Avrohom responded that just as he behaved in this manner, so too, Hashem would send him in his time of need, a maiden who also had this strength and she would be a suitable wife for Yitzchok and would surely agree to come back with Eliezer.
Similarly here, Yaakov worried about the spiritual status of his grandsons. Were they sons of a proper mother who nurtured them in Torah values. In verse 8, Rashi d.h. "va'yomer" says that Yaakov questioned whether Yoseif's sons were worthy of his blessing, as he did not know who their mother was. Yoseif showed his father the marriage contract, as explained by Rashi in the next verse d.h. "bozeh." When Yaakov saw in the contract that Yoseif's wife was none other than Osnas, he again saw Hashem's hand in finding Yoseif an appropriate wife, even in the depraved land of Egypt, nothing short of a miracle. Yaakov credited this to his father's and grandfather's characteristic trait of "his'halchu avosai l'fonov," and expressed this sort of "midoh k'neged midoh," which made for his grandsons being worthy of his blessing. (Nirreh li)
Ch. 48, v. 20: "Y'simcho Elokim K'Ephraim v'chiMenasheh" - May Elokim place you as Ephraim and Menasheh - Why is the blessing to be like Ephraim and Menasheh rather than any two other tribes? The others were given their status through their father, while Ephraim and Menasheh received it from their grandfather. The blessing is that in all future generations the children should not only absorb the values of their fathers, but also of previous generations, from their grandfathers as well. (Nirreh li)
Ch. 49, v. 6: "B'sodom al tovo nafshi" - May my soul not join in their secret - the gemara Sanhedrin 109b says that this refers to the spies. This is puzzling. Although the tribe of Shimon was involved, the tribe of Levi was not.
Ch. 49, v. 13: "Zvulun l'chofe yamim yishkone" - Zvulun will rest at the seashore - The gemara P'sochim 4a relates that there was a person who, whenever he had a monetary dispute with another, always immediately suggested that it be brought before a court of law, rather than attempting to amicably work out their differences. People concluded that his tribal ancestry was that of Dan, as per the verse, "Dan yodin amo" (Breishis 49:16). The gemara then tells of a person who always extolled the beauty of residing at the seashore. After investigation it was discovered that his tribal ancestry was that of Zvulun. The Avnei Nezer, the Holy Admor of Sochatchov, asks why in the former instance the conclusion was drawn without investigation, while in the latter it was only after investigation. He answers that we find that not only was the tribe of Zvulun drawn to the seashore, but also the tribe of Osher, as per the verse in Shoftim 5:7, "Osher yeisheiv l'chofe yamim v'al miftzorov yishkone." There remained the possibility that he might have been an Osher descendant, hence the need for genealogical investigation.
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