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05                                             Rav Soloveitchik taught that the rabbis sought, in a play on words,

                                                                to connect Serach’s name and personality with the Hebrew word
                          A Message from our                    vrx, which means an “overhang,” something that extends from
                                Assistant Rabbi                 one area to another and connects them. Our Sages saw Serach’s
                                                                greatness as manifest in the way in which she was able to bridge
                                    Rabbi Ian Lichter           generations, connecting them together.
                                                                Consider had Yaakov Avinu passed away before traveling to
                                                                Egypt, the tragedy would not merely have been personal. Our
                                                                very  mesorah  would  have  been  affected.  Yaakov  would  never
                                                                have had the chance to meet and to learn with his grandchildren
                                                                Ephraim and Menashe, who ultimately would become two of the
                                                                twelve tribes of Israel. The mesorah of Yaakov would not have
                                                                been transmitted directly to the tribes in their entirety. As such,
                                                                something fundamental would have been absent in the precious
                                                                Jewish mesorah.

                                                                By enabling Yaakov to make the trip to Egypt, Serach acted as an
                                                                “overhang” in ensuring that the generations would be connected
                                                                to one another. She became a heroine of our mesorah. The most
      Allow me to share a history of an                         fitting reward for such a heroine of the mesorah is to view a vast
      individual that ensured the survival                      span of generations interacting with one another and passing
                                                                down the traditions from one generation to the next. Serach’s
      of the Jewish people, a story that                        longevity was indeed a fitting reward for her actions. On the night
      often gets overlooked in anticipation                     of the Seder, every one of us has the opportunity to be a hero or a
      of Pesach.                                                heroine of the mesorah. More than any other event in Jewish life,
                                                                the Seder enables the generations to interact with one another,
      It is a story of Serach, the daughter of Asher, the granddaugh-  forging links in the chain of the mesorah which help ensure the
      ter of Yaakov, a woman among her pack of brothers. You recall   eternity of the Jewish people. Last year, we spent our Sedarim
      how the brothers were told by Yosef who he really was in Egypt   without multiple generations at the table due to Covid-19. Let us
      and that they should go back to Canaan to bring Yaakov down   daven that this year’s table be once again filled with the rich
      to Egypt. In their departure back to Egypt, Yaakov’s sons were   traditions provided by the multiple generations.
      concerned that the news that Yosef was still alive would be such   Katie and I wish the entire community a Chag Kasher V’sameach!
      a shock to Yaakov that he might be harmed by hearing the news.
                                                                Rabbi Ian Lichter
      What to do? The Midrash explains that they approached Serach
      ben Asher, who had a reputation of speaking gently, to be the
      one to let Yaakov know that Yosef was still alive. While Yaakov
      was davening, Serach gently whispered to Yaakov that Yosef was
      still alive in Egypt and that he had two sons – Ephraim and Me-
      nashe. Delivering the news while Yaakov was davening, engaged
      in a calm and almost meditative state, Serach lovingly and gently
      made sure that not only would Yaakov not be harmed by hearing
      the news, but he would believe it as well.
      Chazal note that Serach’s reward was living a tremendously long
      life, spanning the entire time the Jews were enslaved in Egypt,
      the journey through the desert, even together with the Jews en-
      tering Eretz Yisrael under the leadership of Yehoshua, over 250
      years. Now it is understandable that Serach did take great care
      and concern for her grandfather and she employed great sensi-
      tivity in telling Yaakov that Yosef was still alive, but nevertheless,
      how does this act of chesed warrant the reward of such a long
      life. Her reward seems to be exaggerated.
                                                                            The Midrash explains that they
      The answer focuses on an oddity in the spelling of Serach’s name.   approached Serach ben Asher, who had
      Throughout the Tanach the Written Law, Serach’s name is spelled   a reputation of speaking gently, to be
      vra, with a “sin”. Yet, we find when the Oral Law, Gemara or          the one to let Yaakov know that
      Midrash speaks about Serach, it is spelled vrx substituting the             Yosef was still alive.
      “sin” for a “samekh”. Why should this be the case?

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