Shabbos: Ta’am HaChaim Vayechi 5772


שבת טעם החיים ויחי תשע”ב
Shabbos: Ta’am HaChaim Vayechi 5772

Five Questions With Behind the Scenes Answers

Questions
1. It is said (Bereishis 48:8) וירא ישראל את בני יוסף ויאמר מי אלה: ויאמר יוסף אל אביו בני הם אשר נתן לי אלקים בזה ויאמר קחם נא אלי ואברכם, then Yisroel saw Yosef’s sons and he said, “Who are these?” And Yosef said to his father, “They are my sons whom G-d has given me here.” He said, “Bring them to me, if you will please, and I will bless them.” Rashi writes that Yaakov wished to bless Yosef’s sons and the Divine Presence departed from him, because Yaakov foresaw Yorovam and Achav, wicked people, descending from Menashe and Ephraim. Yaakov questioned Yosef as to the worthiness of his sons, and Yosef showed Yaakov his marriage contract, and Yaakov then acquiesced to bless them. What benefit was there to show Yaakov the marriage contract, if the fact remains that Yosef’s descendants would be wicked? Furthermore, all the tribes had wicked descendants, so why did HaShem remove His Presence from Yaakov specifically when he sought to bless Yosef’s sons?

2. The Torah states that Yosef saw that Yaakov had placed his right hand on Ephraim, who was the younger son, and his left hand on Menashe, the older son. Yosef was concerned that Yaakov had become confused and he attempted to switch Yaakov’s hands, and Yaakov reassured him that he had intentionally placed his hands in this manner. How could it be that Yosef thought that his father was lucid enough to bless his children but not lucid enough to know which son was which?

3. Rashi writes that Yaakov wished to reveal to his sons the End of Days, but HaShem did not allow him to. However, Yaakov said to Dan (Bereishis 49:18) לישועתך קויתי ה’, for Your salvation do I long, O HaShem! The Medrash (Bereishis Rabbah 98:14) states that Yaakov assumed that Shimshon, the prophet who descended from Dan, would be Moshiach. How is it possible that after HaShem removed the Divine Spirit from Yaakov that Yaakov still was prophesying regarding Moshiach?

4. The Torah states that Yaakov instructed his sons to bury him in the מערת המכפלה. Why was it necessary for Yaakov to tell his sons that Avraham, Sara, Yitzchak, Rivka and Leah had been buried in the מערת המכפלה?

5. Yosef told his brothers that HaShem would remember them and redeem them from Egypt. The words that Yosef used were (Bereishis 50:24) ואלקים פקד יפקד אתכם, HaShem will surely remember you. What was the significance of these words?

Answers

1. The theme of this week’s parsha is exile and redemption. Yet, the redemption itself is obscure and concealed. The parasha is referred to as a פרשה סתומה, a closed parasha. One of the reasons offered in the Medrash for this title is because Yaakov wished to reveal the End of Days and HaShem removed from him the Divine Spirit. Yaakov was focused on redemption, and the initial redemption will be catalyzed by Moshiach ben Yosef (See Gemara Sukkah 52a). When Yaakov foresaw that wicked people would be descending from Yosef, he was disturbed that the redemption process would be delayed. Yosef therefore reassured Yaakov by showing him his marriage contract, hinting to him that HaShem would make a marriage contract with the Jewish People that would not be broken. Proof of this is because it is said (Yeshaya 50:1) כה אמר ה’ אי זה ספר כריתות אמכם אשר שלחתיה, thus said HaShem: What is your mother’s bill of divorce by which I sent her away? HaShem is thus declaring that He never annulled His marriage to the Jewish People.

2. Yosef understood that Yaakov blessed Ephraim before Menasheh. The commentators (See Kli Yakar) wonder why Yosef waited until Yaakov blessed his sons for him to protest Yaakov switching his hands. The answer to this question is that Yosef understood that Yaakov would grant Ephraim precedence regarding the spiritual blessings, but he hoped that Menasheh would at least precede Ephraim for material blessings. For this reason Yosef waited until Yaakov finished the blessing and he then attempted to prevent Yaakov from giving Ephraim precedence in the materialistic blessing. Yaakov, however, explained to Yosef that the reason that Ephraim was worthy of the preeminent spiritual blessing was because of his spiritual nature. Furthermore, because of Ephraim’s illustrious descendants, he would also be worthy of preceding Menasheh regarding the material blessing.

3. Yaakov lost the ability to accurately predict when Moshiach would arrive. However, true to the nature of the Jewish People throughout the generations, Yaakov did not despair of the redemption. Rather, he declared that he longed for HaShem’s salvation, and he expressed this longing in his vision of Shimshon, who dawned on the scene early in the history of the Jewish People. This expression of Yaakov should inspire us with hope for salvation and redemption, speedily, in our days.

4. Rabbeinu Bachye writes that the word חברון is associated with the word חבור, which means attachment, as מערת המכפלה is a place where there is a strong connection to the Divine Presence. Yaakov was demonstrating to his sons that this burial site was where the Jewish People would be forever connect to HaShem, similar to the connection that Avraham and Sara, Yitzchak and Rivka and Yaakov and Leah had in their marriages. It is noteworthy that the Ramban (Acharei Mos) writes that Yaakov did not bring Rachel into the מערת המכפלה. The reason for Yaakov’s action, writes the Ramban, is because Yaakov would be embarrassed that he had married two sisters in their lifetime, an act that is prohibited by the Torah. Apparently Yaakov felt justified in the connection he had with Rachel and Leah while alive, but he did not feel comfortable demonstrating this connection at the site of a strong connection with the Divine Presence.

5. The word פקוד equals in gematria 190, the same gematria as the word קץ, end. The Baal HaTurim (Bereishis 50:24) writes that the word פקד, in addition to meaning remember, can also mean deficiency. Thus, the Baal HaTurim states that when we deduct the word פקוד, 190, from the 400 years of Egyptian slavery, we are left with רד”ו, the 210 years that the Jews actually served in Egypt. Additionally, the word פקד inא”ת ב”ש is ודק, which equals in gematria 110, the years of Yosef’s life. Yosef was hinting to his brothers that the slavery would begin after his death and HaShem would ultimately redeem the Jewish People in the merit of Yosef, who resisted the overtures of Potiphar’s wife (See Bereishis Rabbah).
Shabbos Zemiros Elucidated
מַה יְּדִידוּת מְנוּחָתֵךְ authored by Menachem over four hundred years ago
כָּל מִינֵי מַטְעַמִּים מֵעֶרֶב מַזְמִינִים, from Shabbos eve they prepare all manners of delicacies. The Gemara uses the expression מערב שבת לערב שבת, from Shabbos eve to Shabbos eve. Perhaps we can apply that usage to this passage, based on the Gemara (Beitzah 16a) that states that Shammai would find an animal during the week and set it aside for Shabbos. We should emulate this behavior and the entire week we should be preparing for the Holy Shabbos.
Shabbos Stories
Rav Yehonasan Eibshitz Doesn’t Know Where He Is Going
One day Rav Yehonasan Eibshitz was walking to Shul when the powerful ruler of the region, with whom he had often conversed, met him in the street. The ruler had great respect for the brilliant mind of Rav Yehonasan. Upon seeing Rav Yehonasan the ruler asked him where he was going. Rav Yehonasan replied that he didn’t know. Assuming he didn’t hear the simple question, the ruler asked again. Once again Rav Yehonasan answered that he didn’t know.
The ruler, thinking he was joking around, got very angry with Rav Yehonasan and threatened to throw him in jail if he continued to play with him. Rav Yehonasan apologized deeply for the ruler’s impression that he was making fun of him, but nevertheless told the ruler that he didn’t know. Incensed, the ruler immediately summoned his guards and had Rav Yehonasan taken to jail.
The next morning the ruler came to visit Rav Yehonasan in jail and said to him, “Rav Yehonasan, I don’t understand you. You are an intelligent, upstanding, and honest person and I am certain you were not on the way to any illegal activity. Why would you make a laughing stock out of me and have yourself sent to jail rather than tell me where you were going??”
Rav Yehonasan replied “My presence in this jail is precisely the reason why I couldn’t tell you where I was going. I set out for morning services in the local synagogue, but, I ended up in jail. I can only tell you where I am intending to go but as to where I am really going, only Hashem knows and apparently he had other plans for me.”
As the Yiddish expression says “Ah mencsh tracht un Gut lacht” loosely translated to “If you want Hashem to laugh share your plans with him.” Do You Know Where You’re Going????
Rebbi Akiva Eiger And The Chavas Da’as Escort An Empty Wagon
Rebbi Akiva Eiger was renowned for his modesty. His totally unassuming character is the subject of many stories. One time Rebbi Akiva Eiger And Rebbi Yaakov MiLissa, the author of the Chavas Da’as and Nesivos HaMishpat, traveled together to Warsaw for a gathering of Rabbonim. Eagerly awaiting the arrival of these two great gedolim whom they had never seen, the people of Warsaw waited for them at the outskirts of the city.
When they arrived, the horses were immediately unhitched from the wagon so that the people could have the honor of pulling the chariot of these two gedolim by hand. Upon seeing this, Rebbi Akiva Eiger jumped out of the wagon and joined the crowd pulling, assuming that this great honor was done for the great Rav of Lissa. Unbeknownst to him the Chavas Da’as assumed that this great honor was for Rebbi Akiva Eiger and had jumped out of the wagon from his side.
Together with the leaders and the lay people of Warsaw, these two gedolim humbly pulled the empty carriage to the city honoring the missing Gadol inside. (Sarei HaMei’ah 1:251)
A Contract Until 120
Reb Chaim Gelb was a unique individual – a tzaddik and gaon in chessed who spent his entire life strengthening Yiddishkeit and performing chessed for others. He was a resident of Williamsburg, Brooklyn at a time when most Jews there were not frum, and he worked tirelessly to strengthen Shemiras Shabbos and all aspects of Jewish observance. At a young age, he quit his job so he could devote all his time to performing acts of chessed and tzedakah. His wife, who was a full partner in Rav Chaim’s lifetime of chessed, willingly supported the family.
In the mid-twentieth century, modern American values were already slowly seeping in the frum community. Rav Chaim was not pleased with the increase in broken marriages, and was concerned with its negative affects on the future of Klal Yisrael.
As a man of action, he was not one to remain silent. At every wedding that he attended, Rav Chaim would stand on a chair after the chuppah was over, and announce in a loud voice, “A contract for 120 years!” The guests would shout “Amen!” and Rav Chaim would step down from the chair, satisfied that he had taken action to uphold the value of shalom bayis and a lasting marriage. (Reb Chaim Gelb: A Life of Chessed) (www.revach.net)

Have a wonderful and delightful Shabbos
Prepared by Rabbi Binyomin Adler
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