by Zvi Akiva Fleisher
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SEDRAH SELECTIONS PARSHAS VA'YICHI 5771 BS"D
Ch. 47, v. 28: "Va'yichi Yaakov b'eretz Mitrayim …… va'y'hi y'mei Yaakov shnei chayov" - And Yaakov lived in the land of Egypt …… and the days of Yaakov the years of his life were - What is the intention of "his days" and "his years?" In Mishlei 10:27 the verse says, "Yiras Hashem tosif yomim ushnose r'sho'im tiktzarnoh." A G-d fearing person actively elevates himself daily through pursuit of positive behaviour. This keeps him very busy and at the end of each day it feels like it was a very long time, as if it were a year. Conversely, the rosho whiles his time away with frivolities and a year can quickly pass with no accomplishment, and it feels as if it were just a day that has passed. This is the intention of our verse. It tells us that Yaakov lived his life in such a manner that his days were like years. (Tiferes Y'honoson)
Ch. 47, v. 29: "Im noh motzosi chein b'einecho …… al noh sik'b'reini b'Mitzroyim" - If I were to find favour in your eyes …… please do not bury me in Egypt - Why did Yaakov have to ask Yoseif for a favour to not bury him in Egypt? Since he was his father why didn't he simply command Yoseif to not bury him in Egypt, and the requirement to honour one's father's wishes would make it binding? Had Yaakov done this the fulfillment of the mitzvoh would be limited to a maximum of expending 1/5th of one's financial resources. If Yaakov would demand of Yoseif by virtue of being his father, then a vow on top of the mitzvoh is not binding.
If Yoseif would agree and be bound by a vow, then transgressing it would be transgressing a negative command, and to avoid this he would be required to expend all that he has. (Mahari"l Diskin)
Although not germane to the basic point made by the Mahari"l Diskin, I don't know why he states that from the point of honouring one's parents he would be required to only expend a fifth, as the halacha is that although one must honour his parents and fulfill their wishes, this does not require of the child to spend any of his own money.
Ch. 47, v. 29: "Im noh motzosi chein b'einecho …… al noh sik'b'reini b'Mitzroyim" - If I were to find favour in your eyes …… please do not bury me in Egypt - In Sh.O. Y.D. 362:5 it says that we are not to bury a wicked person next to a righteous person, and not even a mildly wicked person next to a very wicked person. This is sourced from the gemara Sanhedrin 46a that we have two sections in a cemetery for those who are put to death by the court, one for those who received "hereg" or "chenek," and one for those who received either "skiloh" or "sreifoh."
In response Igros Moshe Y.D. 4:56 Rabbi Moshe Feinstein deals with a situation where a righteous person died and he can only be buried among gentiles and evil people or not be buried at all. Which is the better of these two options? He explains that the issue is that there is a Torah level source for either option. To not bury a person contravenes "Ki kovor sik'b'renu" (Dvorim 21:23), and to bury him among evil people contravenes the "halacha l'Moshe miSinai of establishing two sections in a cemetery for those put to death by the court. He concludes that it is better to bury him, as whether he is buried among his level of people or not, in either case he has the benefit of having atonement that is afforded by being buried, as explained by the above gemara. This is of greater import than with whom he is buried, which although an "halacha l'Moshe miSinai," is a manner of honouring the deceased.
In the responsa of the Maharsha"m 7:47 he writes of what happened in his days where a ritual slaughterer who intentionally caused the masses to sin with non-kosher meat. Upon his death his descendants paid a hefty sum to have him buried next to a very righteous person. The Maharsha"m was asked if it was required to exhume him and bury him somewhere else. He responded that although the Chasam Sofer in his responsa Y.D. 341 writes that once an evil person has already been buried next to a righteous person we do not exhume him (perhaps his death and/or his being buried afford him expiation), one who causes the masses to sin has a different ruling. The gemara R.H. 17a says that a "machati es horabim" never leaves Gehinom. Would one claim that once he is already buried we should rely on the possibility that he repented, we have an axiom that he who causes the masses to sin is restrained from repentance (gemara Yoma 87a).
Ch. 48, v. 10: "V'einei Yisroel kovdu mizoken" - And Yisroel's eyes weakened from old age - Just as Yaakov tricked his father by impersonating Eisov, so too, Yoseif attempted to trick his father, knowing that his father would favour Efrayim, so he placed Menasheh to his father's right side. (Baal Haturim)
Ch. 48, v. 15: "HoElokim horo'eh osi" - Elokim Who shepherds me - Since praise is being given to Hashem for providing Yaakov's needs, why did he choose the name Elokim, which connotes strict judgment? Tosfos Yom Tov on mishnayos Brochos 7:3 writes that once Hashem has created ua and placed us into this world and we cannot exist without sustenance, justice demands that He sustain us. This is why Elokim is used here. (Rabbi Y.Z. Pollack)
Ch. 48, v. 16: "Hamaloch hago'eil osi y'vo'reich es hanorim" - The angel who redeems me shall bless the lads - Yaakov's blessing was not that the angel should bless the lads. It is obvious that a blessing directly from Hashem is preferable. Rather, his blessing was that if the lads would ch"v not be deserving of a blessing directly from Hashem, they should then at least receive one from this angel. (Sforno)
Ch. 49, v. 13: "Z'vulun l'chofe yamim yishkone" - Z'vulun will rest upon seashores - M.R. here asks why the blessing for Z'vulun, who was the younger son, preceded that of Yisochor, the older son. The M.R. answers that the merit of Z'vulun's supporting Yisochor is so great, as per the verse, "Eitz chaim hee lamachazikim boh," that he deserves to be mentioned earlier. The Boyaner Rebbe shlit"a cites the Holy Zohar 1:142a who says that Z'vulun merits to have an abundance of wealth and the merit of supporting Yisochor because he took bread out of his own mouth and placed it into Yisochor's mouth. We see from this that Z'vulun was not first successful in commerce, and only when he had an abundance of wealth did he begin to support Yisochor. Z'vulun, when he had but a piece of bread to his mouth, gave it to Yisochor.
By putting Yisochor ahead of himself, he merited to be placed ahead of Yisochor by these blessings, and also by Moshe's blessings in parshas v'Zose Habrochoh.
Ch. 49, v. 27: "Binyomin zev yitrof" - Binyomin is as a wolf that will rip - Binyomin's descendant King Sho'ul's kingship did not last. It did not pass on to his descendants. This is like a wolf that has caught and ripped its prey. It eats some of it and leaves. It does not stand by for long because more powerful animals will come and take it for themselves. Yehudoh's blessing of kingship is likened to a lion. When it kills its prey it stays with it, eating to its heart's content because no other animal will overpower it. So too, the kingdom of King Dovid and his descendants lasted numerous generations. (Chizkuni)
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