by Zvi Akiva Fleisher
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SEDRAH SELECTIONS PARSHAS VA'YICHI 5774 BS"DCh. 47, v. 30,31: "Ukvartani bikvurosom va'yomer onochi e'eseh kidvorecho, Va'yomer hishova li va'yishova lo" - And you shall bury me in their burial plot and he said I will do as per your words, And he said swear to me and he swore to him - A number of questions:
1) What is added with the word "onochi," which is included in the verb predicate E'eseh?
2) Once Yoseif said that he would carry through why did Yaakov in the next verse require of Yoseif a vow to fulfill his word?
3) What is added in verse 31 with "li?" Obviously Yoseif would be swearing to Yaakov who requested of him to swear.
Question #2 is asked by the Ramban and he explains that Yaakov surely trusted Yoseif to keep his word but asked Yoseif to take a vow so that when he would request of Paroh to escort his father to his final physical resting place Paroh would have to accommodate him so as to not abrogate a vow. What's added on by "li" is the additional safeguard of avoiding Paroh's asking Yoseif to annul his vow. Yoseif could then respond that he swore on the basis of his father's intentions, "li," and there is no room for an annulment.
We now understand why Yoseif added on the word"onochi." It means, "I from my part will do it, although I fear that I will be unsuccessful because Paroh might not grant permission. This is what brought on the ensuing response by Yaakov of demanding a vow, etc. (Ponim Yofos)
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?
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)
Ch. 48, v. 7: "Vaani b'vo'i miPadon meisoh olai Rochel" - And I with my coming from Padon Rochel died on me - Yaakov just had Yoseif swear that he would bring his body to Eretz Yisroel, to the M'oras Hamachpeiloh, for burial. He then went on to tell him matters that were unique to Yoseif, that his sons would become separate tribes, etc. Mentioning that Rochel died while traveling seems to be a non-sequitur. The Meshech Chochmoh explains that this was a prod to have Yoseif bury him without delay. Now that Yoseif took on a vow to have his father buried he should learn from the premature death of his mother. This was a result of Yaakov's making a vow and delaying in fulfilling it, as is stated in Vayikra Raboh 37:1. Likewise, Yoseif should not delay.
Ch. 48, v. 7: "Vaani b'vo'i miPadon meisoh olai Rochel" - And I with my coming from Padon Rochel died on me - Here Yaakov is explaining to Yoseif that although he himself did not bury Rochel in an honourable location, he nevertheless asked to be buried in the M'oras Hamachpeiloh. Yaakov went on to explain that he did this "al pi hadibur" (see Rashi). It would seem logical for Yaakov to tell all this to Yoseif earlier, in the verse where he asks Yoseif to bury him in the M'oras Hamachpeiloh. Why did he wait until here?
Earlier Yoseif would have had no complaints about where his mother was buried, somewhat in no man's land. This is because Jewish ownership of Eretz Yisroel at that time was very questionable, as Rashi explains on 23:4 d.h. "ger v'soshov," when Avrohom was negotiating a burial plot for Soroh. It was only because of the great honour accorded Avrohom that he was even able to purchase the plot, and Yaakov feared that the bnei Cheis would not allow for his burying his wife there. (This seems puzzling, as Yitzchok and Rivkoh were buried there with no fuss.)
It was only now that Yaakov gave Efrayim and Menasheh his own primogeniture double portion to Yoseif, and in turn to them, that he acted in a manner of having ownership now, as otherwise there is no double privilege, "Ein bchor yorteish pi shnayim b'ro'uy kivmuchzak," as this privilege only applies to items that one's father inherits to his sons of items that he has in his control. It is now that the issue of where he buried Rochel rears its head. This is why he explained himself now. (Ponim Yofos)
Ch. 48, v. 18: "Va'yomer Yoseif el oviv lo chein ovi" - And Yoseif said to his father not so father - In an earlier edition the question was raised: How was Yoseif allowed to tell his father that he was wrong? An explanation given by the Baalei Tosfos is that he didn't tell his father that he did something wrong, but rather, that things weren't as he thought, that Efrayim was to his right and Menasheh to his left.
Another answer is offered by the Tzofnas Paanei'ach. He says that this ruling is limited to not telling one's father that he has transgressed, but it is acceptable to tell him that he is wrong in a non-mitzvoh matter. We see this in the wordage of the Rambam hilchos mamrim 6:11, where he says that when one's father transgresses a Torah law his child may not tell him …… we see that the prohibition is only regarding a mitzvoh.
Ch. 49, v. 13,14: "Zvulun, Yisoschor" - Rashi explains that Yisoschor will be supported while he toils in Torah by Zvulun who will be seafaring. If so, shouldn't Yisoschor be mentioned first, since he is the one who learns Torah? The gemara at the beginning of Zvochim says that the Yisoschor-Zvulun partnership only works when Zvulun buys into the deal to support Yisoschor for future learning, but not to buy into a partnership for that which Yisoschor has already learned. This is why we mention Zvulun first. It is only when Zvulun has already gone out and done business and then offers funding for Yisoschor that this partnership is viable, but not if Yisoschor is first, i.e. he has already learned and then Zvulun comes up with funding. (Rabbi Shlomo haLevi Karliner in Sheima shlomo)
Ch. 49, v. 15: "Va'yar menuchoh ki tov …… va'yeit shichmo lisbole" - And he saw that relaxation was good …… and he bent his shoulder to bear - When does a person merit relaxation and calm? It is when he bears all burdens in a calm demeanour, a "savlon." (Admor Rabbi Yitzchok of Vorke who heard this from a farmer)
Ch. 49, v. 16: "Don yodin amo k'achad shivtei Yisroel" - Don will judge his people as one of the tribes of Yisroel - Even when Don is judging someone of his tribe, he has no favouritism. He judges him as any of the other tribes of Yisroel. (Alshich Hakodosh)
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