CHAMISHOH MI YODEI'A - FIVE QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS ON PARSHAS VA'YICHI 5775 - BS"D
1) 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 K'subos 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."
2) Ch. 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.
3) Ch. 47, v. 31: "Va'yishtachu Yisroel al rosh hamitoh" - And Yisroel bowed while at the head of the bed - Rashi explains Yaakov actions, meaning that after all he was the father, and yet we find him bowing to his son. Rashi answers with a folk saying, "Taala b'idnei sagid lei," - A fox at his time (when he is in power, albeit that he is but a fox), nevertheless bow to him. In 48:2, when Yaakov is apprised of Yoseif's arrival it says, "Va'yis'chazeik Yisroel va'yeishev al hamitoh." There Rashi comments that even though Yoseif was his son, he nevertheless according him honour because one is required to accord kingship honour. Why here does Rashi explain it with the folk saying and in 48:2 with a ruling that one is to accord kingship honour?
4) 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?
5) 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 to 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?
Perhaps we can answer that it is left out because during some of the years between 40 and 140 Yaakov was not sin free. He was not fulfilling the mitzvoh of honouring his parents. Another possibility is because he was still single at that age. (Nirreh li)
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)
In our verse Yaakov is asking Yoseif to do his request. We cannot derive from this the axiom Rashi states in 48:2, because in our situation "Taala b'idnei sagid lei" is sufficient to explain his actions. In 48:2, where Yoseif came to Yaakov to receive blessings for himself and his sons it is only because of "cholkim kovode t'machus" that Yaakov sat erect in his bed. (Avnei Shoham)
Alternatively, here where Yaakov bowed to Yoseif it might well have been by virtue of protocol, "taala b'idnei sagid lei," but not in 48:2, where the verse clearly states that he had to exert himself, "Va'yis'chazeik Yisroel." The exertion can only be because of "cholkim kovode l'malchus," even a father to a son, which is not a protocol, but an halachic requirement. (Gri"z haLevi)
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)
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.
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