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Pop Quiz: Which of his sons did Ya'akob compare to a wolf in his blessings?

by Rabbi Shmuel Choueka
"The grave which I have purchased..." (Beresheet 55:5)

Ya'akob Abinu, giving his last request to be buried in Israel, says to bury him in the grave which he has purchased. The word "kariti" is understood by the Midrash to mean "pile", that Ya'akob made a pile out of the money he had, and with this pile, he bought the burial place from Esav. This is the same Ya'akob who went back over the river to retrieve small jars that he had left, thereby having to meet up with Esav's angel.

This is no contradiction. To waste money by leaving jars, that Ya'akob would not do. To spend money for something important, like the proper burial place, that Ya'akob would do, even if it meant making a huge pile of money to buy this grave. It's only a question of priorities!

When we hear that a mezuzah or tefillin or a sefer Torah costs a certain amount of money, we are amazed and say, "Wow, so much!" When we hear of mundane things that people spend an inordinate amount of money on, we shrug our shoulders and think nothing of it. Ya'akob is teaching us to reassess our priorities. Let's not waste our money, but rather spend it on what's really important! Shabbat Shalom.

THE FOX AND THE BIRD by Rabbi Reuven Semah

"The scepter (of royalty) shall not depart from Yehudah...until Shiloh arrives" (Beresheet 49:10)

In our perashah, Ya'akob Abinu blesses his sons before he passes away. He blesses the tribe of Yehudah that they will always be the tribe of the king, even until Shiloh comes. Rashi says that Shiloh is the Mashiah, who will come from Yehudah.

This reminds me of a funny story told of a great Hacham who was sitting with a group of young people who were mocking the belief in the Mashiah. As they continued to laugh and to make fun, the Rabbi said, "Let me tell you a story."

Once a fox saw a bird in a tree. The fox called out to the bird to come down to him. She answered, "I know why you want me to come down. You're probably very hungry!" "G-d forbid," said the fox with an innocent smile. "Didn't you hear? The Mashiah came, and the prediction of the Torah that the wolf and the lamb will dwell together has come true! You need not fear!"

Just then, a sound of a trumpet in the distance was heard, accompanied by the sound of barking dogs on the run. The fox called out to the bird, "What is that sound? You can see from your high perch."

"Oh, nothing," said the bird. "It's only some hunters with some hunting dogs." "Really?" said the fox. "I'd better get out of here!"

"But," the bird cried out, "I thought you said that the Mashiah came and the wolf and the lamb will dwell together! No animal will any longer attack any other animal! So why do you fear the dogs? They won't harm you!"

"It's true," the fox said as he ran away, "but dogs don't believe in Mashiah!"

The Rabbi then looked up at the mockers and repeated, "But dogs don't believe in Mashiah!"

Shabbat Shalom.


"Yisachar, an agile beast (donkey) of burden, rests between the borders" (Beresheet 49:14).

The analogy between Yisachar's ability to bear the load of a donkey, is intended as a unique lesson for one who devotes himself to Torah study. The donkey, in contrast to a horse, rests with its load on its back since it has the ability to rest in position with its complete load tied on. The horse, however, must have its load removed so that it can move around and relax.

The tribe of Yisachar symbolizes the Jew who devotes himself to the diligent study of Torah. The great test for a Ben Torah (lit. son of Torah) comes when he feels he must rest and "take a vacation." If during this time of leisure he still remains stalwart in maintaining the yoke of Torah he then confirms his status as a true Ben Torah. However, one who cannot relax unless he removes his "load" may not carry the mantle of a Ben Torah. (Peninim on the Torah)

Answer to pop quiz: Binyamin.

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