פ’ ויחי – תשע”ה
Volume 6, Issue 12
INSIGHTS from the SEDRA
Insights from the Sedra is a project of the Scholar’s Kollel of Great Neck. It aims to provide several questions and answers about the Sedra, culled from various commentaries, including the following: Baal Haturim, Darash Moshe, Vedebarta Bam by Rabbi Moshe Bogomilsky, Torah Treasures by Dov Furer, Wellsprings of Torah by Alexander Friedman, and Kol Dodi by Rabbi Dovid Feinstein, Great Torah Lights by Rabbi Yitzchak Meir Goodman, Something To Say by Dov Wasserman, The Vilna Gaon, and Growth Through Torah by Zelig Pliskin.
בך יברך ישראל לאמר ישמך אלקים כאפרים וכמנשה
“By you shall Israel bless, saying, “May G-d make you like Ephraim and Menashe.” (48:20)
Why did Jacob want his future descendants to bless their children with the example of Ephraim and Menashe, of all the tribes? One explanation of the Sages is that Joseph’s two sons exemplified a fundamental principle of the Torah: there was no competition between them, and neither considered himself greater than his brother.
Although Jacob set Ephraim, the younger son, above Menashe, the first born, Menashe was not jealous and Ephraim did not become arrogant. Their perception of truth and of each other’s value was solid; pretensions and rivalry were far beneath them. Each had a deep and authentic respect for the other, and a feeling of happiness in the other’s success. Each performed his individual goal, harmonizing with his brother’s contribution to create a unique symphony of Divine service.
Jacob, therefore, expressed the hope that all of his children in generations to come would behave so desirably. He created a tradition that this blessing be given by Jewish parents to their children throughout history. (Something To Say)
ויקרא יעקב אל בניו ויאמר האספו ואגידה לכם את אשר יקרא אתכם באחרית הימים
“And Yaakov called to his sons, and he said, gather together and I will tell you what will befall you in the end of days.” (49:1)
Yaakov told his sons to gather together, to have achdus, unity. Only when there is unity, among the descendants of Yaakov can there be redemption. If there is not yet unity, it is not yet time for redemption. With this we can understand what Yosef’s brothers meant when they said to him later on (50:16-17) that before Yaakov’s death he requested that Yosef forgive them.
Commentators are puzzled on the issue of where he requested this. The answer can be seen in our verse. Yaakov asked for unity and the deep love that comes from unity. Where there is love, there is forgiveness. This is a crucial issue for our time. People are very different from one another in many ways. But if all the descendants of Yaakov realize how important it is to have achdus, this unity will bring about a love that transcends the specific complaints one person has against another. (Growth Through Torah)
את אשר יקרא אתכם באחרית הימים
“What shall befall you in the end of days…” (49:1)
The word יקרא, befall, has the connotation of a random occurrence. Every Jew will be engaged in his business and preoccupied with his work when suddenly, Mashiach will appear, totally unexpected; everyone will be caught by surprise. (Ba’al Shem Tov)
ראובן בכרי אתה
“Reuven, you are my first born…” (49:3)
Concealed in these verses is a truly astonishing gematria. The addition of the values of the first letters of the words following the names in each blessing yields the sum total of 365, the number of days in the solar year. Furthermore, by adding the last letters in each blessing, the number 354 is obtained, the number of days in the lunar year.
This gematria is in line with the ideas expressed in the following verses (Yirmiyahu, 31:35-36): “Thus says Hashem, who gives the sun for a light by day, and the ordinances of the moon and the stars for a light by night…If these ordinances depart from before Me, says Hashem, then the offspring of Yisrael shall also cease from being a nation from before Me forever.” The underlying meaning of Yirmiyahu’s words is that just as these cosmic laws will never cease so the nation of Israel shall endure forever. (Ba’al HaTurim)
נפתלי אילה שלחה הנתן אמרי שפר
“Naphtali is a messenger gazelle, who delivers beautiful sayings…” (49:21)
Speech is the most vital thing that Hashem blessed man with. The tongue of the wise is health (Mishlei 12:18). With speech, man ascend and he can descend.
In Vaikra Rabbah it is brought out that a servant was sent by his master to go out and purchase the most important item and the servant returned with a tongue. The next day the servant was sent out to purchase the worst thing and he returned with a tongue. A tongue can harm another harder than any other blow. Other sins can be hidden and committed privately, but Lashon Harah is done in public. Other sins can sometimes be justified, but Lashon Harah does not benefit the body at all and it is worse than all the other sins. (Iturei Torah)
ויקרבו ימי דוד למות
“And the days of David drew near that he should die.” (Haftorah, Vayechi)
QUESTION: What is the connection between the passing of David and Parshat Vayechi?
ANSWER: Originally, King David was destined to die at the time of his birth. The 70 years he lived were a gift from Yaakov and Yosef. Yaakov lived 147 years, while his father Yitzchak lived 180 years, and Yosef lived only 110 years, while his father Yaakov lived 147 years. Thus, Yaakov lived 33 years less than his father, and Yosef lived 37 years less than his father. These 70 years were given as a gift to King David so that he might live and be King of Israel. Therefore, it is most important to read about the passing of David in the week we learn of the passing of Yaakov and Yosef.
According to another opinion, Adam gave 70 years to King David reducing his own life 1000 years to 930 years. Thus, Chumash Bereishit, which starts with the life of Adam, is concluded with the Haftorah of the passing of King David, because in reality this was the culmination of Adam’s lifespan. (Zohar)
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