Parashat Vayechi

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Parshas Vayechi is the 12th a final parsha in the Book of Berashis. It contains 85 pesukim and section from Melachim I regarding the passing of King Dovid is read for the Haftora.


[edit] Yackov's Life in Egypt

Yackov lived in Egypt for 17 years until he passed away at age 147. These years were the most prosperous of his life, where he attained great levels in happiness and satisfactions.[1] Despite the fact that he had spent years in the Holy Land, Yackov was only able to fully attain these levels in the impure Egypt, at the onset of the horrible Egyptian exile that was already beginning to manifest. The main completion of 'happiness' is not when a person manages to push aside bitterness and suffering but rather when he grabs this pain and transforms that itself into happiness. Using these methods Yackov caused great clarifications in the spiritual 'Chambers of Exchange', paving way for the Tikkunim of the later generations. During these years Yackov fully grasped how the 'final redemption' could only arrive once the Tzadikim descend to the lowest places and collect the elements of holiness from there.[1]

In the Torah this section is written as a sealed section alluding that when Yackov passed away, the eyes and hearts of the Jews were closed because of the misery of the slavery which started to some degree at that point.[2] It also alludes that Yackov attempted to reveal the End of the exile to his sons, but it was concealed from him.[2]

[edit] Yackov's Request to Yosef

Yackov's prosperous years of life in Egypt draw to an end. Having reached age 147, Yackov fears he will soon pass away despite that his father Yitzchak had lived to be 180.[3] He called his son Yosef who had the actual power to carry out his request.[3] Yackov asking Yosef that if he found favor in his eyes, that Yosef should place his hand under his thigh and make an oath[3] by covenant of the circumcision, out of kindness and truth to not bury him in Egypt, when he passes away to the next world to lay[4] with his forefathers. Yosef is then to carry him from Egypt and bury him in the Mearos Hamachpala burial plot of his forefathers in Chevron. Yosef committed to carry out his father's request. Yackov asked that Yosef swear to this and he did. Yackov (Yisroel) then prostrated himself on the head of the bed he was laying on.

[edit] Summoning of Yosef

Yosef had to be summoned since he always tried to avoid being alone with his father out of fear he would question him about the past and expose the story of his sale, causing Yackov to willingly curse his brothers.[5] Yosef agrees and then upon Yackov's request, swears by his fathers Bris Milah . Yackov then bows to his son.

[edit] Burial in Chevron

Yackov did not wish to be buried in Egypt so his tomb would not become an object of idolatrous worship.[6] Aside for the obvious issue with this, he was also aware that all idolatrous objects would be destroyed during the 'plague of the first born'.[7]

This would also allow him to be spared the suffering of Gilgul Mechilos[6] during the time of Resurrection, where Jews buried in Diaspora must first roll through underground passages to Eretz Yisroel before being resurrected. He was also aware that during the future Ten Plagues that would afflict Egypt, all its top soil would turn to lice and Yackov did not wish to them crawl under his body.[6] Additionally it would prevent Jews from hesitating to leave Egypt and saying it must contain some holiness if Yackov agreed to be buried there.[8] Yackov requested that he be buried with his forefathers in Mearos Hamachpela. He had previously purchased the rights to the last remaining plot in Mearos Hamachpela from his brother Esav.

Yackov also requested that if he was to be temporarily buried in Egypt until he could be transferred to Chevron, then some of the surrounding dirt should be take and transferred along with his body.[9]. This is in accordance with the laws of transferring buried bodies; where all the lose dirt under the body and the depth of three additional fingers has to be transferred and reburied with it[10]. This is why Yackov said that they should carry him 'from Egypt', meaning that some of the dirt from Egypt should be included with him.[9]

[edit] The Oath

Paraoh and the Egyptians had seen great blessing since Yackov arrived in Egypt, including the ending of the 'great famine' that was supposed to run for an additional five years. In a society run on meta physical forces they were very unlikely to give up a spiritual asset like Yackov's tomb. Yosef held the position of 'Second to King' giving him the power to fulfill Yackov's burial request[3] and was therefore chosen over the other brothers. Later after blessing the other tribes, he commended them as well to fill out his burial request.

As traditional to hold an object of a Mitzvah to reinforce an oath at the time it is taken, Yosef placed his hand near his fathers Milah. Although the Avos practiced many of the Mitzvos, either in their final form, in other manifestations or at their root levels, Mila was the only physical Mitzvah which had officially been issued by Hashem to date. It was also a very cherished Mitzva for them as Tikun Habris yields the great power to take their decedents out of Gehinum and bring them to Olam Haba.[11]

[edit] Chesed of Truth

Often people do kind acts calculating that in some form they will be repaid by the person. This does not apply to a dead person, where one does not expect any payment or reward.[3] and any act of kindness done with him is called a 'chesed of truth'. Similarly some people honor their father out of fear or embarrassment, by carrying out Yackov's will Yosef would show all that he truthfully honored his father.[12]

[edit] Yackov Bows

Yackov bowed towards the head of his bed, turning himself toward the Shchina,[13] which tends to hover above the head of the ill,[13] at the same time[14] giving honor to Yosef. Although Yosef was his son, he held a position of royalty and was therefore given honor, just as the lion must bow to the fox when the hour allows him to have a position of power.[13] In truth Yaakov was really bowing to Hashem thanking him that his offspring were perfect and none ended up wicked, as was evidenced by the fact that Yosef was a king and had been captured among the heathens, yet remained steadfast in his righteousness.[13]

[edit] Blessing of Menashe and Ephraim

At some later point following the oath, Yackov became ill. Yosef is informed of this event by his son Ephraim who spent his days studying Torah under Yackov. Yosef fearing his father's time had come,[15] takes his two sons Menashe and Ephraim and travels from the Egyptian capital to the province of Goshen to visit him and attain a blessing for his sons.[16] Upon being informed of his son's arrival, Yackov summoned his strength and sat up on his bed thereby granting honor to Yosef's position of royalty. Both Moshe and Eliyahu deduced from this incident that it was proper to give honor to kings, despite their wickedness. Additionally by sitting up Yackov proved his soundness, so no one could later claim that the blessings he awarded Yosef were a senile act done out of fear of death.

[edit] Splitting of the Tribe of Yosef

In Luz during Yackov's journey back from Padan Aram shortly after the passing of Rachel, Hashem blessed him that he should multiply and produce a 'nation' and a 'society of nations'. After this blessing Binyomin had been born fulfilling the prophecy of an additional 'nation'. Since following this Yockov ceased to have children, he understood the blessing of producing a 'society of nations' would come about through the splitting of one of the existing tribes into two. He now awarded this blessing to Yosef, creating his sons Menashe and Ephraim into two individual tribes of the equivalents of Reuvain and Shimon. Each would now get a full inheritance during the capture of the Land of Israel, equivalent to the shares being awarded to each of the other tribes.

[edit] Other Children

Any additional children that would be born to Yosef, would be included among the tribes of Menashe and Ephraim instead of forming their own. In reality the land was split by population, each individual receiving an equal portion, causing larger tribes to receive a larger unit of land then smaller tribes. Being included in the tribes of Menashe and Ephraim would not lessen the allotted land of these possible future children, yet it would exclude them from enter as an individual party during the lottery which would determine the location and land quality of their lot. it would also exclude them from having their own tribal prince, flag and group.[17] This condition never become relevant since Yosef bore no more children.

[edit] Reiteration of Burial Request

Yaackov reiterated his request, burdening Yosef to travel and bury him in Eretz Yisroel, despite the fact that he had not done so for Rachel, the mother of Yosef.[18] On his way back from Padan, as he was making his way though the land of Canaan, Rachel had passed away, only a stretch of land away from Efrot. Despite it being summer and no rains prevented Yackov from traveling to Chevron and burying Rachel in Meoras Hamachpela, for it was the dry season, when the earth is riddled and full of holes like a sieve.[18] Instead Yackov had buried her alongside the road, not even traveling the short distance of 2000 cubits (the average amount that could be plowed in one day)[18] to bury her in the inhabited cities of Efrot or Beit Lechem.[18]

Knowing that Yosef held this against him, Yackov informed him that he buried her there by divine command, so that she would later be of assistance to her children. When the Jews being exiled by Nevuzaradan passed by there, Rachel emerged from her grave and began weeping and begging Hashem to have mercy on them. Hashem answered her, that there will be a reward for her work and her children will return to their own borders.[18]

[edit] Initial Rejection

Yackov prepares himself to bless Menashe and Ephraim and suddenly the Shichina detaches herself from him. Yackov gazes deeper into their essence and sees how the wicked Yeravam ben Nevut and Achav ben Amri will descend from Ephraim and Yehu ben Nimshi from Menashe. He then asks Yosef "Who are these?", questioning if their was some flaw in the birth of his children that could render such consequences that render them unfit for his blessing. Yosef then pulls out the engagement and Ketuba documents that he created in preparation for his marriage to Usnas, proving his marriage was completely legit according to the guidelines of Holiness. Yosef then beseeches Hashem for mercy and the Holy Spirit comes to rest on Yackov.

[edit] Yeravam, Achav and Yehu

Yeravam, Achav and Yehu were more then black sheep in the family, hundreds of years later. Them and their descendants were personally responsible for causing the bulk of the Jewish Nation to commit horrible sins for periods lasting generations and for the eventual exile of the Ten tribes and their almost obliteration off the face of active participation in the spiritual history of the world. Their entire ability to lead and control the nation was through corrupting the powers of Yosef that were enchanted by the blessing. Yackov's refusal to bless was to prevent the very power he was giving over from later be misused.[14]

[edit] The Debate

There is a very hard spiritual service of trying to find the good points in each Jew despite their extreme wickedness. Even big Tzadikim such as Yeshayahu, Hoshea and Eliyahu had difficulty doing this properly in certain cases. When Yackov encountered the eminence wickedness of Achav and Yehu, his ability to find their good points became exhausted. Yosef then went ahead and expanded on the good points that were contained in these very sinners, showing how these elements alone would make them befitting of the blessing.[1] Display of his Ketuva reiterated; that as legal Jews it is impossible that they would not contain good points, despite their many sins.[14]

[edit] Switching of the Hands

[edit] First Blessing

[edit] Second Blessing

[edit] Granting of Shechem

[edit] Yackov's Blessing of the Tribes

[edit] Levi

They will spread out all over Eretz Yisroel to study Torah.[19]

[edit] Binyamin

In the evening he will securely and peacefully[20] distribute bounty.

[edit] Passing of Yackov

Once Yackov passed away the servitude to the Egyptians began in a minor degree.[21] Although there was no actual servitude at that point, Paraoh began to request that they service him.[15]

[edit] Passing of Yosef

At the time of his passing, Yosef instructed the Jews never to change their Hebrew names and adopt Egyptian names,[22]despite the fact that he himself was given the Egyptian name of Tzafnat Paneach.[22]

[edit] References

  1. ^ a b c Likutay Halachos
  2. ^ a b Rashi Berasihis 47:28
  3. ^ a b c d e Rashi Berashis 47:29
  4. ^ Rashi Berashis 47:30
  5. ^ Sefer Avosanu, Vayechi / Hadar Zikanim
  6. ^ Cite error: Invalid <ref> tag; no text was provided for refs named Rashi_Shemos_47:29
  7. ^ Sefer Avosanu, Vayechi
  8. ^ Sefer Avosanu, Vayechi/ Mishnas Rebbe Eliezer 19
  9. ^ a b Rabbanu Ovadia, Ohalos Chapter 16 Mishna 3
  10. ^ Ohalos Chapter 16 Mishna 3
  11. ^ Sefer Avosanu, Vayechi / Tanchuma Chayi Sara 6
  12. ^ Sefer Avosanu, Vayechi / Berashis Rabba 96 5
  13. ^ a b c d Rashi Berashis 47:31
  14. ^ a b c Shover Zadim Parashat Vayechi
  15. ^ a b Ikar Sefsi Chachamim Shemos 47:28
  16. ^ Rashi Berashis 48:1
  17. ^ Rashi Berashis 48:6
  18. ^ a b c d e Rashi Berashis 48:7
  19. ^ Baal Haturim Devarim 33:10
  20. ^ Baal Haturim Devarim 33:12
  21. ^ Rashi Shemos 47:28
  22. ^ a b Baal Haturim Shemos 1:1
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