Points to Ponder

Vayechi 5776

Vayechi Yaakov (47:28) – Rav Zevulun Charlop Shlita noted that a parsha that deals with death so intensely strangely is referred to as VaYechi. Why? Rav Charlop explained that when a person leaves a legacy in Nitzchiyus – in things that make a difference, then he continues to live on, long into the milenia and becomes more and more alive as the time goes on. (Think about how alive Rashi Tosafos and the Rambam are today as people worldwide discuss what they “Say” instead of what they “said” – that’s Toras Chaim).

Hamalach HaGoel (48:16) – Rashi explains that the Ne’arim refer to Menashe & Efraim. Rav Zeidel Epstein ztl. notes that while Yaakov blesses Efraim first and has the right hand on his head, when it comes to HaMalach it is Menashe first. Why? He explains that both Efraim and Menashe had critical jobs. Menashe was involved with Tzorchei Tzibbur while Efraim sat and learned. Lest one think that Efraim’s contribution were to be considered inferior—it is always Efraim before Menashe in the Beracha. However, when it comes to the protection, Menashe, who is the one out in the world needs to be mentioned first. For his job puts him at greater risk.

And I gave you an additional Shechem on top of your brothers (48:22) – Rav Shalom Yosef Zevin ztl. notes that the word Shechem has 2 meanings. One meaning was “portion” and the other was “shoulder”. Rav Zevin notes that the meanings were opposites – a portion speaks to one’s entitlement in something – ownership. The other definition refers to the leftover portion of something – for when we put our efforts into the Chitzoniyus of the world then it is a Shechem of refuse – a place Muchan l’Puraniyos. However, when we use it to develop a portion and lay a stake into it as an investor – it is like Chelek Hashem Amo.

Yaakov called to his sons (49:1) – Yaakov seemed concerned about giving Mussar to Reuven, Shimon and Levi until he was on his deathbed. Why? The Sifrei (Devarim 2) notes that Yaakov was afraid that if he was harsh with them, they might leave him and join with Eisav. Rav Moshe Tzvi Neriah ztl. notes that we see how careful one needs to be when giving mussar. If one is too tough, it might lead the children or the students to the dark side.

I await your Salvation Hashem (49:18) – The midrash comments that Yaakov thought that the Geulah would come in his days. When he saw him die he knew it was not destined to be and so he said L’Yeshuaseicha Kiveesee Hashem. The midrash explains that this is all a reference to Shimshon. Why did Yaakov see more promise in his rise than in all the others? Rav Nosson Tzvi Wachtfogel ztl. explains that he knew Shimshon was to be a Nazir and to be a Nazir, one needs to take on a Kabbala. This Kabbala demonstrates a certain personal responsibility which is important to the makeup of a kingly personality. Unfortunately, in Shimshon’s case, this was not the reason for his Nezirus. Hence, Yaakov saw his rise was not the final one and Yaakov davened for Jewish salvation at the hand of Hashem.

Each child was blessed according to his abilities (49:28) – Rav Schachter Shlita would regularly remind us that parents need to educate their children in accord with his own capabilities. Each person is totally different. Different personalities approach the same differently. Rav Hirsch explains that the sin of Yitzchak was that he did not realize that Eisav was pressured to live in the style of Yaakov. Had he educated Eisav differently, he might have turned out differently. There needs to be a basic learning for everyone but we are ruining talmidim by making everyone think they need to learn the exact same way.  Zevulun got the same Kavana in his Beracha as Yissochar. Each one got the Beracha that he was cut out for.  We need not to make learning and Shmiras Hamitzvos all or nothing for acceptance. If we do, we will lose those who aren’t fully there yet.

Pakod Yifkod (50:24) – Rav Wolbe ztl. explains that this concept of Pekida is the greatest of 7 levels of Geulah (Yaaleh V’Yavo etc.) Zechira is not a stand alone concept but rather part of a major undertaking. The Gra notes that each of the 7 levels corresponds to the 7 heavens and when Pekida happens, the Geulah request has pierced the 7 heavens.

Haftorah: And you know what Yoav did to me when he killed the 2 generals Avner and Amasa (Melachim I 2:5) – What did killing the generals have to do with Dovid HaMelech? The Brisker Rav ztl.explains that it had nothing to do with it. Rather, Dovid notes that when Yoav joined Adoniyahu that was the first strike, these were the second and third. Rav Yaakov Kamenetzsky ztl. suggests that by killing them by the sword, Yoav created the impression that Dovid HaMelech had ordered the hits on the 2 generals for being Mored B’Malchus. This was likely to cause unrest against the crown – unfairly. Therefore, Yoav had actually sinned against the crown and Dovid by killing the generals.