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Parshas VaYechi

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Parshas VaYechi
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Yaakov Finally Finds Serenity

The Pasuk tells us Yaakov lived in Mitzrayim for 17 years. The Mefarshim all point out that the word "VaYechi" is telling us that these were the years he "lived". In VaYigash when Paroh asked Yaakov his age, Yaakov first uses the term "Yimei Migurai" the days of my dwelling because his life was so difficult it was hard to use the word "living". He merely "existed". Once he came to Mitzrayim and he rejoined his closest son Yosef, then he "lived".

The Kli Yakar points out that this is the meaning of the Medrash that says there the gap between VaYigash and VaYechi is "stuffed up", as it is a "Parshah Stuma", there is no gap in the Torah. The reason is to teach us that once Yaakov arrived in Mitzrayim the trials and tribulations of his life were finally closed as well. That is why, says the Kli Yakar, immediately after this it says "VaYehi Yimei Yaakov Shnei Chayav Sheva Shanim..." The years of Yaakov's life were 147. These final years were so good that although beforehand he didn't consider the first 130 years living, now after the last 17 wonderful years the troubles of the past were forgotten and his whole life seemed enjoyable and memorable.

A good ending can make the entire past, no matter how difficult, disappear!


How Many Years Do You Owe To Your Parents?

"Yaakov lived in Mitzrayim for 17 years; and the days of Yaakov, the years of his life were 147 years". We know from Parshas VaYigash (47:9) that Yaakov was 130 years old when he came to Mitzrayim. Once the pasuk informs us that he lived the remainder of his life in Mitzrayim, it is not necessary to state that he remained in Mitzrayim for 17 years. Obviously, if he lived until the age of 147, he had to be in Mitzrayim for 17 years?

Daas Zekainim MiBaalei HaTosfos answer, the pasuk is stressing that Yosef repaid the kindness which Yaakov had bestowed upon him in his youth. Yosef lived by his father for 17 years until he was sold. During those years Yaakov took care of Yosef and fed him. Midah KiNeged Midah, Yosef supported his father for the last 17 years of his life. It is for this reason that the Torah stresses that Yaakov lived in Mitzrayim for 17 years - the years that Yosef was Mikayem the Midah KiNeged Midah.


How Long Was Bnei Yisroel Enslaved In Mitzrayim?

Rashi asks, why is Parshas Vayechi "closed" - why isn't there a space between Parshas VaYigash and Parshas VaYechi in the Sefer Torah like there is between other Parshios? Rashi answers, since in Parshas VaYechi Yaakov dies, and the eyes and hearts of Israel were "closed" because of the suffering of the enslavement, therefore it is written "closed". It is important to note that there are 4 different numbers given to the Shibud Mitzrayim.

1) 400

2) 210

3) 193

4) 116

In parshas Lech Licha, Hashem told Avraham that the Jews would be Geirim in a Land that was not theirs for 400 years ("Yodoa Tayda Ki Ger Yihyeh Zaracha BiEretz Lo LaHem Arba Mayos Shanah"). Rashi there tells us , the 400 years started from the Bris Bain HaBisarim and lasted until the Exodus from Mitzrayim.

The number 210 was the actual amount of years that they were in Mitzrayim from the time Yaakov came with his household (70 people - Parshas VaYigash).

The number 193 is the amount of years derived from the beginning of Parshas VaYechi. When Yaakov died, the eyes and hearts of Israel were closed because of the suffering of the enslavement. Yaakov's death occurred 17 years after they entered Mitzrayim. Therefore 210 - 17 = 193. This was the beginning of the "Tzaras HaShibud" as Rashi points out. Maskil L'David takes note that Rashi did not say it was the beginning of the actual "Shibud", but rather the "Tzaras HaShibud" - ‘the suffering of the enslavement". This was only the first stage of the enslavement. Maskil L'David explains, the Shvatim noticed the Shibud starting when Yaakov died because Yosef was not allowed to speak directly to Pharaoh anymore. In Perek 50 Pasuk 5 the Torah says, "And Yosef spoke to Pharaoh's household saying, ‘If I have found favor in your eyes speak to Pharaoh and ask him... can I go up and bury my father". Why couldn't Yosef speak directly to Pharaoh? It was because after Yaakov's death, the attitude towards Yaakov's children began to change.

The number 116 was the actual years of "Avodas Perech'- intense labor. This number is derived from Rashi in Parshas VoEira who says, the reason why the Torah states the number of years that Levi lived, is to derive from there how long the actual Shibud was. Since the "actual Shibud" did not start as long as any of the Shvatim were still alive. Levi was the last to die. If you make the calculations, Levi died 116 years before Yetzias Mitzrayim.


Is Yaakov Still Alive?

"And when Yaacov made an end of commanding his sons, he gathered up his feet into the bed, and expired, and was gathered unto his people." Rashi quotes the Gemara in Taanis that states, since the Pasuk does not say "VaYamos" - "And Yaakov died" - we derive from here that, "Yaakov Avinu Lo Mais" - Yaakov did not die. What do Chazal mean when stating that Yaakov did not die?

R' Tzadok in Sefer Risisay Layla explains, when one dies, he is transforming from a state of Gashmiyus (his body) to a state of total Ruchniyus (his Nishama). Death by definition means this transformation. Most people go through this transformation at the time of death. Yaakov however was totally Ruchniyus, even when he was alive. At the time of his death he did not make a transformation from a state of Gashmiyus to a state of Ruchniyus, he was Ruchniyus all along. In that sense Chazal tell us that Yaakov never died.


Kli Yakar - Zevulun The Globetrotter

Kli Yakar bemoans the wealthy businessmen who have property and merchandise all over the world. He says that these people really have no life. They live in one place. They are constantly traveling; and their possessions and merchandise are in a third place. He calls this a lack of "peace of mind". This is "Pizur HaNefesh" - spreading oneself around the globe.

He translates his thought in to a pasuk in this week's parsha. ????????, ?????? ??????? ?????????; ?????? ?????? ????????, ??????????? ???-?????? ; "Zevulun Lchof Yamim Yishkon" - Zevulun will live with his family by the seashore, "Vihu LiChof Anios" - But he will never be with his family, since he will always be traveling by ship to his business.

" ViYarchiso Al Tzidon" - his merchandise (which is called "Yerech" - just like a thigh supports a person so does his possessions) will be in a 3rd place - Tzidon.

This is not not so by Yissaschor about whom it is written ????????????, ????????????. Yissachar will be learning in his tents - the Bais Medrash - there he has all that he needs!


Yisachar and Zevulun - Who Pays For The Reward?

Yaakov gave Yisachar the bracha that he will carry the weight of the Torah while his brother Zevulun will be a successful businessman and will support Yisachar. The two of them will share both the benefits of Olam Hazeh and Olam Haba. The question is who is paying the bill?

Some poskim hold that Yisachar does not lose any of his reward in Olam Haba. The schar that Zevulun gets in no way diminishes the schar of Yisachar. It is like a candle that lights another candle. It does not diminish the first candle's flame. The Sfas Emes says this is hinted in the odd spelling of the name Yisaschar. The double "Sin" connotes double schar. One portion for him and one for Zevulun.

Other are understand from the words of the Rema (YD 246:1) that the schar that Zevulun receives is deducted from the schar of Yisaschar. The Meshech Chochma says this is alluded to in the words of the pasuk "VaYehi LiMas Oiveid"; that Yisachar pays Zevulun a "tax" on his reward in exchange for his financial support.


Ksav Sofer - Living On Through Your Children

"Yaakov Avinu Lo Meis", Yaakov never died, the gemara says. The Ksav Sofer says that since Yosef reached the level of Yaakov Avinu it is as if Yaakov didn't die since his legacy lived on. However he points out that Yaakov reached a higher level and for this Hashem added the name "Yisroel". This level Yosef did not reach.

That is why the pasuk says, "Vayikrivu Yimei Yisroel Lomus"; the day of Yisroel's death was coming close. The madreiga of Yisroel died with Yaakov Avinu, however "Yaakov Avinu" the madreiga of Yaakov, "Lo Meis" it lived on through Yosef.


The Netziv - Shimon and Levi Were Partners But in Which Crime?

The Netziv says that we see from Yaakov's harsh words to Shimon and Levi that although they were partners in the massacre of Shchem they each had a distinct reason for what they did. Levi was avenging the honor of Hashem. Although this was a virtuous attitude nevertheless it was the wrong tactic and Yaakov admonished him for it. "Kana'us" does not require violence says Yaakov and therefore while he is not ashamed of Levi and would be honored to stand with him against Shchem nevertheless he did not want any association with his actions. That is why Yaakov says "B'Sodom al Tavo Nafshi" in their actions to defend "Sod Hashem" the essence of Hashem he wanted no part.

Shimon however was avenging the shame brought upon the family honor. This is not a Torah attitude. The mere idea was a disgrace to Yaakov. That is why Yaakov says "B'Kehalam", in their gatherings for purely selfish reasons, "Al Teichad Kivodi" there is no honor in the cause.

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