Points to Ponder

Vayechi 5777

Yaakov lived in Egypt for 17 years (47:28) – Rashi explains that this is a Parsha Stuma. Rav Yoel Teitelbaum of Satmar ztl. explained that the idea that a Jew can survive in exile with all of the Tzaros that befall him is a secret that is Satum (closed or hidden).  Yet, the Eish Kodesh of Piacetzna explained that when the world is closed, that is the time of the greatest opportunity for the Keitz – it is the time for the opening to the greatest moments of eternal living.  Rav Amiel ztl. pointed out that it is interesting that the Parshiyos that highlight death speak to life (Chayeii Sarah, Vayechi). He explained that this is because the ideal of Jewish life is how you fill it. If you fill it fully with new things and a passion for Hashem that will live on after the personal expiration of the body, that is life. This is called Chaim.

And he blessed him on that day saying that with you the Jews will bless their children (48:20)- Why does Yaakov prefer these 2 grandchildren for the future Beracha of Klal Yisrael? Rav Gamliel Rabinovitch Shlita suggests that Yaakov had just looked into the future and had seen the dedication of even the future generations of Ephraim and Menashe to Kiddush Shem Shomayim. With that awareness that such dedication does not come from nowhere, Yaakov wanted that as the basis for all of his children.

Which I took from the Amorites with my sword and bow” (Gen. 48:22) – The Gemara (Bava Basra 123a) notes that the words Charbee and Kashtee refer to Tefillah and Bakasha. How? Rav Kook ztl. explains that the sword cuts away all foreign thoughts that interrupt Tefillah while the bow refers to the focus and concentration of Tefillah – through the removal of extraneous thought and focus on direct prayer, one can properly focus on tefillah and defeat any enemy as Yaakov did.

Charming in Strength and in power (49:3) – Yaakov tells Reuven that he was supposed to be both Melech and Kohein Gadol. Why did he lose both? Rav Schachter Shlita explained that a Kanai cannot lead if he flies off the handle. That is why Shimon and Levi were bypassed as well.  The Peh Kadosh of Rav Itzele of Volozhin notes that a person needs to be in the middle of the extremes. He adds that too many go to extremes out of Gaava.  Despite the anger and the Kannaus of a person, one needs to split it up. That is why Yaakov tries to save Shimon and Levi by noting that he will disperse them among Klal Yisrael.

A charming son is Yosef, a charming son pleasant to the eye (49:22) – The Gemara tells us that Yosef and his descendants are impervious to the Ayin HaRa. But why should an Ayin HaRa ruin a perfectly righteous person? Rav Dessler ztl. explains that unless one is a Nosein – a giver, by nature, then people will be jealous of his success. For one to avoid Ayin HaRa one needs to be like the fish – impervious to the whims of the outside and doing that which is right.

Yosef went to the House of Pharaoh and commanded them to speak to Pharaoh (50:4) – Why did Yosef not ask for permission to bury his father himself? Why did he need to go to the household? Rav Chaim Kanievski Shlita quotes the Steipler who explains that Yosef was afraid that Pharaoh would tell him that he could not leave since he did not have a replacement. But, Yosef knew that Pharaoh could not say that to the people without embarrassing them. Therefore he sent them to do his requesting.

Pakod Yifkod (50:24) – Why does the code word of Geulah become Pakod Yifkod? Rav Sabato Shlita explains that true Geulah is not in open-ended freedom of a situation of slavery. Rather, true Geulah is the return to one’s roots – to where one is destined to be. Yosef recognized that the people would eventually leave Mitzrayim and he wanted them to connect to the history of the people. Knowing the connection is a prelude to the real purpose of life.

Haftorah -  And behold with you is Shimi Ben Geira and he cursed me a major curse (Melachim I: 2:8) – Rav Yaakov Kamenetzsky ztl. pointed out that it is incredible to see that despite the way that Shimi treated Dovid, Dovid allowed his son to study with Shimi. This is because of the love of Torah which was paramount to him. Dovid did not place his own loyalties above those of Hashem’s will.