Points to Ponder

Vayechi 5779

וְעֵינֵ֤י יִשְׂרָאֵל֙ כָּֽבְד֣וּ מִזֹּ֔קֶן לֹ֥א יוּכַ֖ל לִרְא֑וֹת Yisrael’s eyes became heavy from age, he was no longer able to see (48:10) - Sforno explains that he could not see the boys so he kissed and hugged them in order to establish a Kesher with them for a Beracha. Rav Chaim Shmuellevitz ztl. explains that through having a personal, visual Kesher with one’s teacher, one is zocheh to a Hashpaah that can be incredibly impactful.

וְיִדְגּ֥וּ לָרֹ֖ב בְּקֶ֥רֶב הָאָֽרֶץ: They should be as populace as fish within the land (48:16) - The Midrash notes that in the same way that the fish rush to every morsel that falls within their midst, so too, Bnei Yisrael will be drawn to every morsel of Torah offered to them. Rav Gifter ztl. would often comment that the sign of a Ben Torah is his insatiable desire to rush to grab another word of Torah.

בְּךָ֗ יְבָרֵ֤ךְ יִשְׂרָאֵל֙   Utilizing you Bnei Yisrael will bless (48:20) - So a moment ago Yaakov didn’t know them and now everyone gets blessed with THEIR names? How? Rav Zalman Sorotzkin ztl. explains that when Yaakov saw that all of the privilege of Egyptian society did not make them assimilate, but rather made them see themselves as different from Egypt and more in line with their Jewish roots -- a critical message for all future Jewish children. At the same time Rav Avraham Zalmanes ztl. explains that Menashe & Efraim had no jealousy between them and this was the point of the Beracha.

שִׁמְע֥וֹן וְלֵוִ֖י אַחִ֑ים   Shimon and Levi are brothers (49:5) - Rav Elya Svei ztl. notes that the Torah wants us to know that their intention was positive. Still, their actions demonstrate that they cannot be left at full strength. This is why they need to be divided among Am Yisrael. Rashi explains that this is why the Mechanchim come from Shimon and the Leviim travel through Am Yisrael to collect Terumos and Maaseros. Rav Yechzkel Levenstein ztl. asks how a father sets his children up not to have time for anything but seeking a Parnassa? Rav Elya answers that the parent who sees his child’s potential and also the limits and boundaries for the child’s potential to be utilized positively, is the successful parent. By being aware and setting the blessing for the children, Yaakov set the tone for the success of the children and for their ability to be impactful for the success of the entire nation.

וַיֵּ֤ט שִׁכְמוֹ֙ לִסְבֹּ֔ל  He will bend his back to the load (49:15) - The Gemara in Megillah (6b) explains that one who declares that he toiled but was unsuccessful should not be believed. However, the Talmud (Nidda 70b) that one who wants success must realize that he can toil and be unsuccessful simply because he did not seek Rachamim -- that he did not daven. So why is he who says Yagatee V’Lo Matzasee not believed? Maybe he SHOULD be believed that he wasn’t successful because he didn’t ask for Rachamim? Rav Ovadiah Yosef ztl. explained that sharpness in one’s learning is based on the effort put into it. But the ability to recall one’s learning and to keep it current, this is not only dependent on one’s time but also on  Rachamim from Hashem.

בִּנְיָמִין֙ זְאֵ֣ב יִטְרָ֔ף  Binyamin is a devouring wolf (49:27) - The midrash comments that just like a wolf grabs its prey, the Mizbeiach, destined to be in Binyamin’s portion, will grab the Korbanos. What is the connection between a wolf and the Mizbeiach? The Lubavitcher Rebbe ztl. quoted the Tzemach Tzedek who explained that it is like the situation concerning Shabbos, about which the Mechilta comments that Tosefes Shabbos, too, is like a wolf, grabbing from the beginning and end of the day itself. The Rebbe ztl. added that the same is true with Korbanos -- they too grab, because the normal time for the Mizbeiach is during the day. Still, Terumas HaDeshen can be done before daybreak and the burning of the fats on the Mizbeiach is done after the setting of the sun making the Mizbeiach like the Shabbos -- grabbing some more in a means to extend its influence -- just like the wolf.

פָּקֹ֧ד יִפְקֹ֣ד אֶתְכֶ֗ם Hashem will surely remember you (50:24) - These words become the secret codewords of the Geulah. Why? Rav Haim Sabato Shlita explains that the secret to redemption is in remembrance. When one remembers where he came from and tries to return to that previous status, the person actually returns much further ahead. Remembrance is what secures us in exile and it is what leads to Geulah -- and beyond.

Haftara --  וּשְׁלֹמֹ֕ה יָשַׁ֕ב עַל־כִּסֵּ֖א דָּוִ֣ד אָבִ֑יו And Shlomo sat on the throne of his father Dovid (Melachim I 2:12) -- Rav Schachter Shlita would point out to us that when we make the Berachos of the Haftara and ask Hashem to bless us with Malchus Beis Dovid, the Rambam interprets that this means that the Davidic line -- from Dovid to Shlomo and onward will be fulfilled in its entirety at the dawn of the Geula. The purpose of this week’s Haftara is that it gives us the strength and the faith to endure until the arrival of Moshiach.