CHAMISHOH MI YODEI'A - FIVE QUESTIONS ON THE WEEKLY SEDRAH - PARSHAS VA'YICHI - BS"D
1) Chapter 47, v. 28: "Vayichi" - Rashi points out that this parsha contains
no spacing prior to its beginning, which all other parshios do have. He says
that this alludes to our parsha being "sealed." This indicates that from the
time of the death of Yaakov, the eyes and hearts of the bnei Yisroel were
sealed by the difficulties of the servitude. How do we know that the servitude
began with the death of Yaakov?
2) Chapter 47, v. 28: "Vayichi" - Rashi points out that this parsha contains
no spacing prior to its beginning, which all other parshios do have. He says
that this alludes to our parsha being "sealed." Since there is no spacing
before Vayichi, how indeed do we know that it is the beginning of a new parsha?
3) Ch. 47, v. 28: "Sheva shonim v'arbo'im u'm'as shonoh" - Seven years and
forty and one-hundred years - Rashi comments on the years of Soroh's life
(Breishis 23:1) that her one-hundred years are compared to her twenty years, and her
twenty years are compared to her seven years. This is because the word
"years" is mentioned three times. Here we have the word "years" only twice. Taamo
Dikro offers that it is left out once because there is no comparison of years to
years for beauty for a man, as per the gemara Kesubos 59. However, this seems
problematic, as we find "years" by Avrohom three times, and a comparison of
his being sinless by all three. If so, we are left with the question, "Why is
the term 'years' only mentioned two times by Yaakov."
4) Ch. 48, v. 7: "Vaani b'vo'i miPadan meisoh olai 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 location
of Rochel's burial plot is in Eretz Yisroel, as this verse clearly states,
"meisoh olai Rochel b'eretz Canaan."
5) 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. The
verses of the four matters mentioned above are all in Bmidbar, 1:10 - 2:18,20
- 7:48,54, - 13:8,11. We find in two places that Menasheh is mentioned ahead
of Efrayim. They are also in Bmidbar, 26:29,35 and 34:23,24. Why is Efrayim
mentioned ahead of Menasheh four out of six times?
The Maskil L'Dovid answers that in 50:4, Yoseif requested permission to bring
his father to burial in the land of Canaan. Rather than approach Paroh
directly, Yoseif asked Paroh's ministers to intercede on his behalf. We see from
here a weakening of the esteem in which Yoseif was held. Had he retained his
stature, he would not have needed an intermediary. However, the M.R. 100:4
comments that Yoseif could not appear in front of Paroh, as he was in an unkempt
state because of being an "o'non," a bereaved person (see Sforno), thus
seemingly refuting this proof.
1) The Mahara"l says that we have a tradition, a "mesoroh," from Ezra for
the beginning of each new parsha.
2) The Bchor Shor (Rabbi Alexander Schor) proves that Vayichi is a new
parsha. The last verse in Vayigash ends with, "And they were very fruitful, and
they multiplied greatly." We know that the bnei Yisroel did not multiply
greatly until there was some level of servitude, as the verse says (Shmos 1:12),
"And as they afflicted them, so did they multiply." Rashi says that the
servitude only began after Yaakov's death, which takes place in our parsha. The
gemara P'sochim 6b says that although the Torah is not specifically in
chronological order, this is only so regarding matters of one parsha in relation to
matters of a different parsha, but within each parsha, the events must be in
chronological order. If the beginning of Vayichi would be a continuum with the end
of Vayigash, how could the bnei Yisroel multiply greatly BEFORE the servitude
even began with the death of Yaakov? We must therefore say that these are two
separate parshios, since the last phrase in Vayigash is chronologically out of
order. (Pardes Yoseif)
However, the Rashbam (47:29) says that the true beginning of our parsha is
47:27, (Vayeishev Yisroel etc.), but the congregations did not want to end
parshas Vayigash with the details of how Paroh became owner of the land. This
seems to be contrary to both the Gur Aryeh and the Bchor Shor.
Perhaps we can answer that it is left out by the count of forty years because
at that age Yaakov was not sin free. He was not fulfilling the mitzvoh of
honouring his parents then. Another possibility is because he was still single at
that age. (Nirreh li)
The Ramban and the Moshav Z'keinim ask this question.
1)The Moshav Z'keinim offers is that this particular spot was not Eretz
Yisroel, although the surrounding area was.
2)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).
3)Rabbi Ovadioh of Bartenura answer that "lo'oretz" means "to a populated
area," and he buried Rochel away from a populated area, but it was in Eretz
4)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.
1) Baal Haturim and Rabbeinu Efrayim say 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). However, it remains to be explained why it was not expressed another
two times, totaling six times, and in turn, Efrayim should come come ahead of
Menasheh all six times.
2) We know that Efrayim was given the primogeniture (firstborn) right over
Menasheh. This entails a double portion for the firstborn (Dvorim 21:17). Thus
we have Efrayim mentioned ahead of Menasheh in four out of six places, a double
allotment, as is due to the firstborn.
To explain why Menasheh is mentioned ahead of Efrayim in specifically those
places, commentators say 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.
Alternatively, 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. (Nirreh li)
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