by Zvi Akiva Fleisher
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SEDRAH SELECTIONS PARSHAS VA'YICHI 5770 BS"D
Ch. 48, v. 2: "Va'yis'chazeik Yisroel va'yeishev al hamitoh" - And Yisroel strengthened himself and he sat up on the bed - Yaakov was on his death bed and was about to bestow a gift on Yoseif, namely that his sons each have the status of a tribe. There is a law that if one gives a gift on his death bed and then recovers, he may retract the gift. To show Yoseif that this was a full-fledged no reneging gift he strengthened himself when Yoseif entered, showing that he was sufficiently well that the giving of the gift should have the status of a well person's gift, which is final. (Chizkuni)
Ch. 48, v. 12: "Va'yotzi Yoseif osom mei'im birkov" - And Yoseif removed them from within his knees - What was the point of placing his sons between Yaakov's knees and then removing them? What actually happened was that Yoseif placed his two sons between Yaakov's knees and then everything that occurred in the following verses took place, until after the blessings they received. It was only then that Yoseif removed them. (Rabbi Yehudoh Chalavoh)
Ch. 48, v. 15: "HoElokim horo'eh osi" - Elokim who shepherds me - Since Yaakov is praising Hashem Who has sustained him all these years, why does he express himself with "hoElokim," an expression of "midas hadin," strict judgment? Wouldn't it be more appropriate to say "Hashem ho'ro'eh osi?" Tosfos Yom Tov in his commentary on mishnayos Brochos 7:3 explains that we invoke the name Elokeinu in our zimun before birkas hamozone but not when we recite birkas haTorah because Hashem has created us and in turn has a responsibility to sustain us, hence Elokim, the letter of the law requires that we be sustained. When it comes to the blessing over the Torah we have no such claim. We could well have been created and not given the Torah. We therefore invoke only the name Hashem when we recite the blessing over reading the Torah. Our question is now readily resolved. (Rabbi Y.Z. Pollack)
Ch. 48, v. 19: "Yodati vni yodati" - I know my son I know - The Psikta Rabosi chapter #3 says that Yaakov's message to Yoseif was: I know (first "yodati") my son what your brothers did to you on account of jealousy when they perceived that you received favouritism. You likely feel the same might happen with my giving Efrayim, your younger son the predominant blessing with my right hand. I therefore understand (second "yodati") why you take this so to heart. (Rabbi Yehudoh Chalavoh)
Ch. 48, v. 20: "B'choh y'vo'reich Yisroel leimore y'simcho Elokim k'Efrayim v'chiM'nasheh" - In you shall the nation Yisroel bless saying may Elokim place you as Efrayim and as Menasheh - Where do we find the fulfillment of these words? Tanya Rabosi #95 and Shibolei Ha'leket in "birkas hamiloh" #5 say that after a circumcision is completed the assembled bless the baby with the words, "May he be as a brother to seven and a brother to eight." This means may he be like Efrayim whose tribe offered their items to the dedication of the Mishkon on the seventh day and like Menasheh, whose items were given on the eighth day of the dedication. (Rabbi Yehudoh Chalavoh)
Ch. 49, v. 7: "Orur apom" - May their anger be cursed - Targum Yonoson ben Uziel explains that this means: Cursed is the city of Sh'chem upon whom came to rest the ire of Shimon and Levi. Rabbi Yehudoh Chalavoh explains that the term "orur" is most appropriate for Sh'chem, as he was a descendant of Canaan.
Ch. 49, v. 8: "Yodcho b'oref oyvecho" - Your hand is on the nape of your enemy - The Medrash Shochar Tov on T'hilim chapter 18 says: Rabbi Yehoshua ben Levi said in the name of Rabbi Yehudoh bar Ilo'i that we have a tradition that Yehudoh killed Eisov. When did this take place? When Yitzchok died, Yaakov, Eisov, and all the tribes went to bury him. The two sons entered the cave crying continuously. The tribes remained outside out of honour for their father, to not see him so disheveled. Yehudoh noticed that Eisov was armed when he entered the cave. Yehudoh thought that perhaps with the two of them being alone and there being no help from Yaakov's sons, Eisov might attempt to kill Yaakov. Yehudoh immediately took his own weapons and entered the cave. He saw that Eisov was about to kill Yaakov. Yehudoh immediately killed Eisov from behind. Why didn't Yehudoh kill Eisov when they were face to face? This is because Eisov and Yaakov had similar faces and Yehudoh did not want to kill someone who looked like his father while actually facing him. This is the intention of Yaakov's words, "Yodcho b'oref oyvecho."
Hadar Z'keinim adds that there is a Medrash Chanukah that says that the Greeks once decreed evil decrees specifically on those of the tribe of Yehudoh because they also had the tradition that Yehudoh killed Eisov.
Needless to say, this medrash is in disagreement with the gemara Sotoh 13a and Sanhedrin perek Cheilek, which relates that Chushim the son of Don killed Eisov during Yaakov's funeral.
Ch. 49, v. 13: "Zevulun l'chof yamim yishkone" - Zevulun will reside at the sea shore - Rashi explains that the members of the tribe of Zevulun will be seafarers, bringing income that they will share with Yisochor. Rashi goes on t say that this is stated more clearly in Moshe's blessing in parshas V'zose Habrochoh. Zevulun receives a share in Yisochor's Torah studies, as he is his enabler. We have an axiom that "Hamvazveiz al y'vazveiz yoser michomesh" (gemara Ksuvos 67b), that one who dispenses money for tzedokoh should not expend more than a fifth of his income. Does this apply as well to being a supporter in a Yisochor-Zevulun arrangement? Rabbi Moshe Feinstein in Igros Moshe Y.D. 4:37 considers this arrangement not as simple charity, but rather, as a sort of spiritual business arrangement, a partnership of sorts, and therefore says that the limitation of 1/5th does not apply.
Ch. 49, v. 20: "Mei'Osher shmeinoh lachmo v'hu yitein maada'nei melech" - Of Osheir it is said that his bread is oily and he will give delicacies of a king - When it comes to himself, Osher is satisfied with a plain piece of bread, and it seems to him as if it were very tasty and juicy. When it comes to "v'hu yitein," when he gives to another, he does not say that it will likewise suffice for him the same as for himself. Rather, he gives "maada'nei melech," delicacies fit for a king. (Divrei Yisroel of Modzitz)
Ch. 49, v. 24: "Va'yofozu zro'ei yodov" - And they gilded the arms of his hands - This is Rashi's translation, and it refers to the placing of a gold ring on his hand. The mishnoh in Pirkei Ovos says, "Y'gia ka'pecho ki sochal ashrecho v'tov loch." If you eat the toil of your hands you are fortunate and it is good for you. This is interpreted to mean that when a person works he shouldn't throw his whole being, body and soul into his work. If he only involves the toil of his hands, but not the toil of his mind, then he is fortunate, etc. Similarly here, the blessing is that when Yoseif has the gold on his hands it stays there, just on his hands, and doesn't go to his head.
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