PARSHA ON PARADE IS DEDICATED TO THE MEMORY
OF MY DEAR FATHER AND REBBI:
HARAV HAGAON RAV YESHAYA SHIMANOWITZ Z'TZL ,
YESHIVAS RABAINU YAAKOV YOSEF
(RABBI JACOB JOSEPH YESHIVA - RJJ)
IN NYC FOR OVER 23 YEARS.
NIFTAR ON 20 ADAR 5758 - MARCH 18, 1998.
MAY HE BE A MAYLITZ YOSHER FOR ALL OF KLAL YISROEL.
MY DEAR MOTHER
REBITZEN BRACHA ETEL SHIMANOWITZ A'H
WHO DEVOTED HER ENTIRE LIFE TO MY FATHER AND HIS TORAH,
NIFTERA ON 21 TEVET 5770 - WED EVE. JANUARY 6, 2010.
MAY SHE BE A MAYLITZA YOSHER FOR ALL OF KLAL YISROEL
Menachim Z. Shimanowitz
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NO MITZVOT IN THIS PARSHA
NUMBER OF PESUKIM (SENTENCES): 85
NUMBER OF WORDS: 1158
NUMBER OF LETTERS: 4448
HAFTORA: (Additional portion, from Prophets, which is read after the Parsha)
Melachim I / I Kings 2:1 - 12
our last episode, Yosef finally broke down and revealed himself
as their long lost brother. With the family whole again, the brothers
rushed back to Canaan and gave the good news to Yaakov. The even
better news was that Yaakov survived the shock. With Hashem's
permission, Yaakov and his entire household gathered up their belongings
and settled in the land of Mitzrayim (Egypt).
As our Parsha
opens, Yaakov finally has what he really wants - peace. In the
land of Goshen, he lives out the final 17 years of his life learning
Torah in the company of his children and grandchildren.
Yosef is the only son who hasn't settled in Goshen. As the ruler,
he has to hang around in the capital.
As Yaakov nears death, he sends for Yosef. Yaakov asks Yosef to promise
that he will bury him in Meorat HaMachpelah, back in Canaan, with his
fathers, Avrohom and Yitzchok. Since Yosef is the Viceroy, he can
guarantee that. Yosef swears that he will carry out his father's final wish. As time goes on, Yaakov falls sick. Yosef makes another trip to Goshen, this time with his two sons, Efraim and Menashe. Yosef finds his father very weak. Not recognizing Yosef's two sons, Yaakov asks: "Who are they?" Yosef reintroduces his two sons. Yaakov asks them to come closer so he can bless them.|
Now, the in thing with Brachot (blessings) is to put the right hand over the older son, Menashe and the left hand over the younger son, Efraim. The two boys approach their grandfather, older on the right and younger on the left. Suddenly Yaakov crosses his arms so his right hand is over Efraim, and his left hand is over Menashe!
Yosef figures, old age must be affecting Yaakov's arms, so he moves to switch Yaakov's arms back. But before he can do it, the Bracha is bestowed: Yaakov asks Hashem to send a Malach (angel) to protect Efraim and Menashe the same way he was always protected. He prays that the two will keep the faith of the Avot (forefathers) and deserve to be called Bnei Yisroel. Finally he asks Hashem to make their descendants strong and multiply like fish once they return to the promised land, Eretz Yisroel.
Yosef can't hold back any longer. He asks his father why he put his right hand on Efraim's head instead of Menashe's. Yaakov tells Yosef that even though both sons will have holy descendants, he's giving Efraim the extra push because he knows that in the future a descendant of Efraim will be so great that he'll freeze the sun in the sky as he leads the conquest of Canaan. This great leader is none other than Yehoshua bin Nun, who takes the reins after Moshe passes on (more about that in about 40 weeks!)
Yaakov adds one more Bracha. In the future, when parents bless their kids, they will say, "May Hashem make you like Efraim and Menashe."
Since Yaakov is on a 'bracha roll' he sends messages to all of his sons to come and get their brachot while they're hot! When the whole clan is finally standing before him, Yaakov tells his sons to gather around because he's got a secret to tell them. "The exact date when Moshiach will arrive is.." - zap! Hashem plucks away Yaakov's Ruach Hakodesh and the secret stays hidden from the rest of the family. From then on, it's
safe to say that Moshiach will be here any minute.
Now, Yaakov is quite spooked by this turn of events. Why would Hashem
take away his insight? Is there a rasha in the house?
Could one of his sons be serving idols behind his back? He asks
his sons if anyone is not in tune with Hashem. They all
answer in unison, "Shema Yisroel, Hashem Elokaynu Hashem Echad"
(Hear, Yisroel, Hashem is our G-d, Hashem is
One)." At this point, Hashem restores Yaakov's Ruach
Hakodesh minus that little secret, just in time for him to
give out brachot to each of his children.
Yaakov's sons, including Yosef's two sons, Efraim and Menashe, are much
more than a bunch of kids to Yaakov. With Ruach Hakodesh, Yaakov can see into the distant future - all of his children's descendants are as real to him now as his twelve sons are on this day. Yaakov can see the events and the people that will be the driving forces behind the successes and failures of each Shevet (tribe) in the future. And he can also see how the midot and character of each of his sons will affect their descendants. With this knowledge, Yaakov forges brachot to enhance or counteract the future of each Shevet. See if you can tell how the Shevet is affected in the future by Yaakov's words. Can you tell why Yaakov chose these brachot?
You would think that Reuven has a double portion coming to him since he's the first born. Well, he's got a double portion of something coming to him. Bang! and zoom!
Bang! - the original idea was for the eldest sons to be the
Kohanim of Bnei Yisroel. But Yaakov blows this
idea right out of the water! Zoom! He loses the Kehuna
because he acted too quickly - like a gushing stream...But the
honeymoon isn't over completely: If Reuven does teshuva
he can still be forgiven by Hashem.
know what Shimon and Levi are like when they get together - like
gunpowder and a lit match! Remember how they massacred Shechem?
Remember how they wanted to murder Yosef? These two just have to
be separated! So here's what Yaakov does. He declares that when
the Shvatim (tribes) reach Eretz Yisroel, Shevet
(tribe) Shimon will settle smack in the middle of Yehuda's territory
and Shevet Levi will inherit no land at all. Instead, they
will be teachers and live in the 48 Aray Miklat (cities
of refuge) scattered throughout Eretz Yisroel.
Everybody's got to start somewhere and Yehuda is no different. Yaakov calls him a lion cub. But watch out, because lion cubs grow up to be lion kings. The brothers have always thought of Yehuda as the leader of the pack. But it was Yehuda who had the roaring idea to sell Yosef. Then again, Yehuda did offer himself in Binyamin's place when Yosef accused Binyamin of stealing. Yehuda's leadership skills will become more and more apparent over time. In the Midbar, Shevet Yehuda will take the
lead, marching up front in the desert, and out front to war in Canaan.
All great people of Bnei Yisroel will descend from Shevet Yehuda. Betzalel, the builder of the Mishkon, and Nacshon, the head of the Nesiyim (Princes) will come from the tribe of Yehuda. The first judge, Asriel ben Kenaz, will also come from Shevet Yehuda. Of course, King David and Moshiach (may he come speedily in our time), descend from Yehuda. As a bonus, Yaakov throws in mountains covered with vines of succulent red grapes, fields filled with grains and pastures crowded with sheep.
These two Shvatim are close partners. Here's the deal: Yaakov knows that Zevulun's descendants will settle on the edge of the Mediterranean Sea. They'll be fishing and doing business overseas and making a lot of dough. Well, it doesn't do any good to earn bread if you don't have time for Torah study. That's where Yissachar comes in. The men of Shevet Yissachar will be great Torah scholars. Many of them will wind up members of the Sanhedrin. The only problem with all the learning is that someone's got to pay the bills. So Yaakov sets up the deal: Yissachar will learn and Zevulun will support the learning. This way Zevulun will earn a share of the reward of Yissachar's Torah study.
Meet Dan the snakelike Shevet. Why is Dan compared to a snake? Well, two visions come to Yaakov's mind. In one, Yaakov sees Shevet Dan marching through the Midbar at the end of the line, attacking enemies who sneak up behind Bnei Yisroel. Yaakov is especially impressed with a particularly venomous descendant, Shimshon. The mighty Shimshon will not only have great strength, but he'll have great cunning. Shimshon will wait in the bushes along the road. When his enemies, the Pelishtim, come marching by, he will jump out like a snake and kill the most powerful soldiers in the lineup. These sneaky moves are typical combat strategy for Shevet Dan.
Yaakov knows that Gad will settle in the land of Moav, east of the Jordan. But that won't stop them from helping out the rest of the Bnei Yisroel conquer Canaan. Once the fighting's over, Gad will have to deal with the enemies surrounding their territory. With great perseverance, Gad will chase 'em away and keep the spoils of war.
Yaakov can see that Asher will inherit a land where olive trees are abundant. Asher will make a bundle of money in the olive business. These olives will also be used to press oil for the Bait Hamikdash. Asher will also have especially beautiful daughters, who will be sought after, and marry Kohanim Gedolim.
Yaakov thinks of Naftali he thinks of a young deer. That's because
these fellows are the swiftest Shevet. They'll be known
for speed. If you've got a relay race, always get a Naftali guy
on your team. One more "swift" thing about Naftali is how quickly
the fruits will ripen in Naftali territory. A Naftali person will
always be the first to make a Shehecheyonu bracha over
the new fruit.
Yosef's always been Yaakov's favorite son. Aside from Yosef's being Rachel's oldest son, he's grown up to be a great tzadik. Unlike his brothers, his spirituality has been tested more than a few times. But just to name a few tests:
Yaakov compares Yosef to a vine that is planted next to a spring of water. The roots run deep and the branches higher than the treetops. Efraim and Menashe will spread out and multiply, and will receive two portions of Eretz Yisroel. Their land will produce delicious fruits.
- Yosef didn't give in to the wiles of Potiphar's wife even when he was faced with prison.
- Yosef managed to remain a righteous person even in the tempting idolatrous society of Mitzrayim.
- Yosef went out of his way not to embarrass his brothers after he revealed himself, even later he always had a brother with him when he visited his father. This way none of the brothers would think he had secretly told his father about how the brothers sold him.
If Yehuda's a lion then Binyamin's a wolf. After all, the first king of Israel, Shaul, will descend from Binyamin. So why a wolf? When a lion makes a kill, it sticks around to eat its fill. When a wolf makes a kill it picks at the meat, then runs away. Shaul is a king but only a little sample of what a king of Israel should be. He rules for only a short time before David establishes the true Jewish monarchy.
The Bait Hamikdash is destined to be built in the land of Binyamin and so Hashem's Shechina will rest in his territory.
Yaakov's final wish is to be buried in the Meorat HaMachpelah, the
burial place of his fathers, Avrohom and Yitzchok. So when he dies at the age of 147, Yosef gets permission for the family to leave Mitzrayim to bury him properly. Pharoh's no dope, however. He knows that Yaakov himself was responsible for ending the famine after only 2 years. With Yaakov gone, it will take the combined greatness of his sons to keep Mitzrayim out of dire straits! He gives the clan permission to go, on the condition that they leave all their possessions behind. It's a done
Yosef, his brothers and hundreds of Egyptian noblemen accompany Yaakov's body back to Canaan. Yosef also takes along a cavalry, just in case Yaakov's nemesis, Esav, has any ideas. Well, sure enough, Esav does show up and he's got a big army to back him up. Esav says that he owns the Machpelah cave and he gets the last plot in it. Yosef insists that Esav sold the cave to Yaakov years before. They even have the document back in Mitzrayim to prove it. Naftali runs all the way back to Goshen to get the document. But before he gets too far, Dan's deaf son, Chushim, gets frustrated, and without hesitation chops off Esav's head. So Yaakov ends up buried in the Cave along with Esav's head.
With Yaakov gone, the brothers have good reason to fear Yosef. While their father was alive, Yosef obviously didn't want to rift the reunited family. But now, there are no holds barred! Maybe Yosef is planning some kind of revenge! Of course, being the tzadik he is, Yosef lets bygones be bygones.
Yosef rules Egypt for 54 more years, living to see Efraim's
great-grandchildren. Before he dies at the age of 110, he calls
together his brothers and warns them that they must not leave
Mitzrayim before Hashem sends an official signal.
They must realize that all the events that have brought them to
Mitzrayim are part of Hashem's plan to make
Bnei Yisroel a great nation. One wrong move and the whole
promise to the Avot will be off kilter. He also makes
his brothers swear that when they do leave Mitzrayim,
they will take his body back to Eretz Yisroel. Yosef's
got a good reason for this request.
After he dies, the Egyptians take his body and put it in a metal coffin. Then they sink the coffin in the Nile River. They figure that the Nile will be blessed with such a tzadik's body guarding it (silly Egyptians!)
With the death of Yosef, a new chapter will begin in the history of the Jewish people. As long as Yosef lives, the Bnei Yisroel are free. As his brothers pass away, the trouble begins. The Egyptians start by taxing the Bnei Yisroel. When the last brother Levi, dies, the Bnei Yisroel are forced into slavery. But as we will witness, from the burdens of
bondage, a great nation will be forged under the watchful eye of Hashem.
Tune in next week when Mitzrayim reigns on Bnei Yisroel's parade in the next
exciting episode of;
the Midrash Maven on Vayechi
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