תש”ף פ’ ויחי
Volume 31, Issue 10
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 Rabbi Dovid Goldwasser, The Vilna Gaon, Growth Through Torah by Zelig Pliskin and The Call of the Torah.
ויחי יעקב בארץ מצרים
“Yaakov lived in the land of Egypt…” (47:28)
Based on the midrash, Rashi asks why, despite this being the beginning of a new passage, it is “closed,” that is, not set off with the usual number of spaces that would mark its being distinct from the passage that precedes it. Rashi offers two answers; I would like to offer yet another as to why this appears as a “closed” parsha. Life can be unpredictable and mysterious, a “closed” book, its final chapters hidden from those in its midst. Man, who is “formed out of clay” (to paraphrase Iyov), is left to wonder when his end will come to pass; and, when he is in distress, from which corner his deliverance will present itself. Good might spring from situations that appear to be absolutely bad, and vice versa.
Nor does man know at what time or from where his true salvation will come. ויחי יעקב בארץ מצרים – Yaakov lived in the land of Egypt. Did Yaakov even dream that these years in Egypt would be his best? Did he even imagine that he would see the face of Yosef again? And, that Yosef would have remained as righteous as before – and here in Egypt no less?
There were many such surprises. At the end of the day, there’s very good reason why the Hebrew word for “world” is עולם , which shares its root meaning with העלם , concealment. That is its name and so it will be forever, לעולם . (R’ Nisson Alpert)
וישתחו ישראל על ראש המטה
“Then Yisrael prostrated himself toward the head of the bed…” (47:31)
Rashi explains that Yaakov prostrated himself as a gesture of thanks to Hashem that all of his children were righteous – including Yosef who was a king and who had been lost among the Gentiles for so long. It seems that Yaakov was confident Yosef would always remain virtuous. Why was Yaakov so sure?
Yosef was 30 years old when he met Pharaoh (Mikeitz 41:46). Nine years elapsed (seven years of plenty and two years of hunger) until Yaakov arrived in Egypt. Yaakov lived seventeen years in Egypt until his demise. Yosef was then 56 years old. Since Yosef was destined to live one hundred and ten years (see 50:26), at this point Yosef had already passed the midpoint of his life. The Gemara states that a person who is righteous most of his life will be protected by Hashem for the
rest of his life against sinning (Yoma 38b). Therefore, Yaakov was confident that Yosef would continue to lead a sin-free life. (Meshech Chochmah)
ויברך את יוסף ויאמר…המלאך הגואל אתי מכל רע יברך את הנערים
“He blessed Yosef, saying ‘The angel who redeemed me from all evil should bless the lads.’” (48:15-16)
QUESTION: The pasuk begins with Yaakov’s berachah to Yosef and ends saying that he blessed Menashe and Ephraim. What was the berachah for Yosef?
ANSWER: Yaakov’s berachah to Yosef was that his children, Ephraim and Menashe should be tzaddikim. When children conduct themselves in a proper way, the parents’ nachas is the greatest berachah they can wish for. (Zohar)
“Gather yourselves…” (49:2)
From the beginning of humanity, in each generation there had been only one individual who was the chosen of G-d, only one upon whom the Holy Spirit rested. But here for the first time an entire group was found worthy of this distinction. They formed the nucleus of the future chosen people. (Kuzari 1:95)
ראובן בכורי אתה
“Reuven, you are my firstborn…” (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 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)
תש”ף פ’ ויחי