47:28) "Vayeche Yakov B'eretz Mitzraim - Yakov lived in the land of Egypt."
A Tzaddik knows the day of his death 30 days prior to his death. This is where this parsha begins. Daas Zekainim writes that just as Yakov sustained Yosef for the first 17 years of his life, so too Yosef sustained Yakov the last 17 years of his life.
There is the question as to when we use the name Yakov and when we use the name Yisroel. Generally it has been explained that the name Yakov relates to the physical aspect and Yisroel the spiritual. Until we get to this weeks portion. (47:28) "Vayeche Yakov B'eretz Mitzraim - Yakov lived in the land of Egypt." We begin with Yakov "lived"
(47:28) "Vayikrivu Yimey Yisroel Lomus-And the day of the death of Yisroel approached" Yakov lived while Yisroel dies? It seems to be the opposite of what we would think?
The K'sav Sofer writes based on the Gemarrah in BB16b that when a person dies and leaves behind a son who is his equal, the term death is not used. The names Yakov and Yisroel connote two different levels of our Patriarch. The name Yisroel refers to a higher level than the name Yakov. On the level of Yakov we have an equal, Yosef, to whom was transmitted by his father everything that was taught to him in the Yeshiva of Eiver. However on the level of Yisroel no equal was left. The Torah is saying Yakov Lo Mase but that level of Yisroel was about to die.
(47:30)-"V'shochavti I'm Avosai- I will lie with my fathers" Rashi says it refers to death not burial. The Marsha says this term is used when the person dying leaves behind righteous sons. It means that he isn't really dying if he left behind sons that follow his ways. The word Shochavti-Lie refers to the soul that never dies, but lies in wait for the day it will once again be reunited at Techiyas Hamaisim.
The dead will arise in Israel 40 years before they do outside of Israel. Partly because of the suffering involved in living there.
This parsha deals with the death of Yakov yet it's called Vayeche? The numerical value of Vayeche is 34. Yosef was 17 years old when he was sold to Mitzraim and Yakov spent the last 17 years of his life with Yosef in Mitzraim. That equals 34 the years he spent with Yosef. Those were the years he "lived". Also since it say's in the gemarrah that "Yakov lo Mase", the term "Vayeche" seems quite appropriate.
Tanna d'Bei Eliyahu derives from the word "Vayeche" that these seventeen years were of the highest possible form of life. It was May'ain Olam Haboh- a semblance of the world to come. But how can it be that the years in Egypt were even more like Olam Haboh than his years in Eretz Yisroel? We see that Yakov's entire life was spent preparing for the years in Golus. As soon as he left his parents home to go to live by Lavan he spent fourteen years preparing for Golus studying at Shem V'Aver.
It has been said that the world will exist as we know it for six thousand years. We can see a direct correlation between the lives of the Avos and these six thousand years. The world was able to remain in existence in the Zechus of Avraham Avinu for the first two thousand years. His was the Midah of Chessed. These were the years of turbulence when the creation was in jeopardy. It was the year two thousand that Avraham first received his calling from Hashem saying "Lech Lecha". The next two thousand years stood on the merits of Yitzchak. His Midah was that of Avodah. These were the years of Torah where we had the Beis Hamikdosh and the Korbonos. The final two thousand years are in the merit of Yakov. These are the years of Golus in which we find ourselves today. Yakov's years in Mitzraim were the culmination of a lifetime of preparation for this type of existence, one that would be needed for the survival of his descendants till the end of days. Here he "lived" with his entire family thriving around him ready to withstand whatever the future exiles would heave upon them.
(47:28) "Vayeche Yakov B'eretz Mitzraim Sheva Esrei Shanah - Yakov lived in the land of Egypt for seventeen years.” The term most often used for “lived” is not “Vayeche” it is Vayogor or Vayeshev, why does the Torah choose this term “Vayeche”? Another question is why was it necessary to write “seventeen years” we were just told that Yakov was 130 years old when he stood before Pharoh and now we are told he was 147 at the time of his death? What is the Torah trying to allude to? If we look for the first incident of the number 17 in the Torah we find that it occurs at the dawn of creation. When Hashem said let there be light He followed it with “And Hashem saw that the light was Tov/good which equals seventeen in gematria. This was the supernal light that was hidden away for the righteous in the future. This is what Yakov brought to the land of Egypt to infuse the children of Israel and to maintain the connection to Hashem that was needed to withstand oncoming exile. The word “Vayeche” is used specifically to express that Yakov did not merely live in to the land of Egypt but gave life to it.
The question asked about Yakov is why there seems to have been no apparent attempt on his part to return to Eretz Yisroel after the famine had ended? After all he did spend seventeen years in Mitzraim. Two years of the famine had already passed by the time Yakov arrived, while the famine was only supposed to last for seven years. We find when Yakov was preparing to reunite with Yosef in Mitzraim that Hashem assured him that it was okay for him to travel down there. (46:3) "Al-Tirah Mair'dah Mitzraimah - Do not be afraid to go down to Mitzraim." In the very next posuk it say's (46:4) "Ve'Yoseif Yasis Yahdo al-Ainecha - Yosef will place his hands upon your eyes." This would seem to infer that Yakov was destined to die there. So unless there was another vision given to him to leave this was where his life would conclude.
This parsha is closed. (Stumah) There aren’t the usual 9 spaces between the last parsha and this one. This must indicate that there is a connection between the end of Vayigash and Vayeche. In the beginning of Vayeche Yakov wanted to reveal the Kaitz (The end of all of the golus when Moshiach will come) but it was withheld from him. Therefore the parsha is Stumah (closed). Why was it concealed from him? At the end of Vayigash it says that the Shevotim acquired land in Mitzraim. Not only in Goshen but they spread out to all parts of Egypt. They settled in and became too comfortable because they knew their Kaitz. They knew that they would not be leaving Mitzraim in their lifetime. This was not a good thing. They became too assimilated to the extent that four fifth's of Benei Yisroel died in the plague of darkness because they refused to leave. They were so assimilated. In Vayeche Yakov thought it would not affect them negatively if they knew the Kaitz. But he was wrong. This is why it was withheld from him. R.Hutner writes that at the time Yakov wanted to reveal the Kaitz it was held back because it would affect the Bechira and when a revelation is going to affect a person’s bechira it is held back. If this knowledge was given over it would alter our decisions and outlook on life.
The Midrash says Yakov was concerned that perhaps his offspring was unworthy to hear the "kaitz". So they said to him look in our names there is no letter ches or tes which spell chet. He replied there is also no letter kuf or tzadik which spell kaitz.
(47:29) "V'Asisah Emodi Chesed Ve'Emes - And do kindness and truth with me." The kindness and truth referred to here is that of burial for it is that which cannot be repaid. The question is we find that Yakov gave an extra inheritance to Yosef, the city of Shechem, as payment for this extra effort which he needed to accomplish this? The answer is that this was not something that Yosef received in this world. He never acquired Shechem in his life but rather received it as his burial place. So in essence he only received payment for this "Chessed" in the next world. Another interpretation is that when a person does a kindness to another person he never really knows if that action is ultimately for the good. If he lent money to someone for a business venture the final outcome is always in doubt. Will it be for the good or will it fail? But here when a person does this type of kindness we know that the outcome will be a Chesed shel Emes.
One of the reasons that Yakov was insistent on not being buried in Mitzraim is because he feared that the Egyptians would worship his remains and he knew that in the future Hashem would punish all of the so called Gods of the Egyptians. Furthermore if he were indeed buried in Mitzraim, in his merit Hashem might spare the Egyptians from the Ten Plagues. Yakov wanted to insure that his descendants would not have any reason to make Mitzraim their permanent home. By being buried in Eretz Yisroel he would be creating a strong bond there that they would always have no matter where they were exiled. This link would insure that their heritage was always connected to the Holy land.
(48:2) "Vayischazek Yisroel Vayeshev al-Hamitah - Yisroel gathered his strength and sat up in bed." It says when Yosef came into the room Yakov sat up on the bed. We learned that if a person comes to visit the sick it removes one sixtieth of the sickness. The gematria of the word “the bed” (hamita) equals 59 which are what was left of the sickness after Yosef visited him. The posuk begins with “Vayged L’Yakov” but ends with "Vayischazek Yisroel” Why the switch from Yakov to Yisroel? Perhaps we can say that Yakov was ill, but when it came to blessing his sons, the future of Klal Yisroel, the Shechina rested upon him and he was therefore referred to as Yisroel.
(48:5) "Ve'atoh Shinei-Vonecha Hanoladim Le'cha B'eretz Mitzraim Ad-Bo'e Aylecha Li-Haim Efraim Umenashe Ki'Reuvein Ve'Shimeon Yihyu-Li - And now the two sons that were born to you in the land of Egypt prior to my coming to you are mine, Efraim and Menashe like Reuven and Shimeon will be to me." First we must understand the use of the words "Li Haim" (they are mine) and then again it says "Yihu-Li" (they will be to me). Why this double loshon? Also why is Yosef the recipient of this double blessing which is usually given to the Bochor? Reuvein was also a Bochor yet he received no such double blessing?
The Meam Loez say's the night that when Reuvein disturbed the sleeping arrangements of his father was the night that Efraim and Menashe were supposed to be born.(35:22) His interference caused that not to happen. Therefore he was not worthy of receiving this double blessing. So now when Yakov say's "Li Haim" they are mine, he is saying that those Neshamas were supposed to have been mine. Now they will be like Reuven and Shimeon to me. The Baal Haturim say's that the numerical value of Reuven and Shimeon equals that of Efraim and Menashe.
Why Reuvein and Shimon and not another tribe? Both Reuvein and Shimon had deficiencies in that there were complaints towards them. The complaint towards Efraim and Menahe was they were not from Yerech Yakov. (Tzor Hamor)
The Zohar say's in Vayishlach that Yakov fulfilled his original intention by giving the Bechor to Yosef since he originally had Yosef in mind when he mistakenly slept with Leah on their first night of marriage because he thought that he was sleeping with Rachel. The Ohr Hachaim explains that the thoughts that the parents have at the time of conception influence to a large degree the tendencies of the offspring. If for example the father was thinking about self gratification at the time of intercourse he can't be surprised if those tendencies are transmitted to the offspring. Avraham carried over some of the negative tendencies he received from his father Terach, who was an idol worshiper, and transmitted them to Ishmael. And some were transmitted to Essav through Yitzchok. But we have learned that Yakov had a Mitah Shelamah? Meaning that all his offspring were righteous? If so how could Reuvein have committed such a grave sin as interfering with his fathers sleeping arrangements? The answer is that at the time of Reuvein's conception, Yakov's thoughts were on Rachel and not Leah. This also explains another posuk. In 49:4 where Yakov is blessing Reuvein it say's "Ki Olisah Mishkivey Avichah Oz Chilaltah Yitzuey Olah - Because you went up onto the couch of your father then you profaned your fathers couch. There is the use of the plural in the word "Mishkivey" (couches). The Ohr Hachaim explains that this means that there were two times that his couch was profaned. The first time Reuvein disturbed the order of things was then, at the time of his conception.
(48:7) “V’ani B’vo M’padan Maisoh Olay Rochel b’Eretez Canaan Baderech-And as for me when I came from Paddan, Rachel died on me in the land of Canaan in the way.” Yakov, at this point, is telling Yosef that his two sons are to be considered as if they were Yakov’s children instead of grandchildren. Now he is explaining why he buried Rachel on the road instead of in Chevron. Why does the Torah include this argument here instead of earlier (47:29) when Yakov asked Yosef to bury him in Israel? The fact that Rachel died soon after Hashem promised Yakov that he would be a congregation of peoples, made it clear that this promise would be realized through grandchildren not through Yakov’s sons.
When Yakov was being buried at the Moros Hamacpela, Essav contested the burial. Why didn't he contest when Leah was buried? Logically that's when he should have said something. The answer is that Leah died 12 years before Yitzchok so while his father was still alive he would not interfere. But now that it was time to bury Yakov he showed his true colors.
Pirkei D'rav Eliezer describes the burial of Yakov: The tribes prepared to bury Yakov next to Leah in the Moros Hamachpelah. Essav protested and said this last space is reserved for me not Yakov. The Tribes answered that he sold the rights to the cave to Yakov. Essav demanded they show the contract which was in Egypt. Naftali ran swiftly to retrieve it and the burial was delayed. Chushim, Dan's son who was deaf saw the commotion and realized that the delay was because of Essav. He then hit Essav on the back of the head with a stick (Tosefos say's it was Yehudah who gave the final blow). Essav fell dead and his head rolled into the cave which is where it remains. The rest of his remains was taken to Har Seir for burial. Why was Essav's head permitted to be buried there and not the rest of him? Perhaps we can say that since originally Essav was supposed to marry Leah and father half of the Shevotim. They were to have a Yissachar and Zevulan type of relationship. Essav would have mastered the physical world while Yakov mastered the spiritual world. But Essav chose a different path. He followed his body rather than his soul. He let the body rule his mind. So it was only his mind, which contained that potential, which could have been worthy to be accepted in this holy burial place.
(48:14) When Yakov wanted to bless the two sons of Yosef it say's he placed his left hand on Menashe because he was the bechor. This doesn't make sense? He should have placed his right hand on Menashe if he is the bechor. In parsha's Vayishlach (35:22) Reuvein was upset that Yakov moved his couch into Bilha's tent after Rachel died, thus he interfered with his fathers couch. The Ari’zal say's that Reuvein entered Bilha's tent and interrupted their intimacy. This is why there is a letter Paye in the middle of the posuk. Indicating that Yakov was posek (stopped). This resulted in the thirteenth shevet not being born. Right after the letter Paye the posuk say's the shevotim were twelve? What does this mean? In parsha's Vayeshev, when Reuvein returns to the pit that Yosef was in, the Torah writes (37:29) that when he saw that Yosef wasn't in the pit he tore his clothes. Rashi say's because he rearranged the couch of his father. He had thought that Yosef would be the one through whom the thirteenth tribe would be completed. The thirteenth which he had stopped his father from completing. That's why he tore his clothes. So now in our parsha when Yakov put his left hand on Menashe it was because he (Menashe) was the bechor meaning that Efraim was the thirteenth who now would complete the tribes. That's why Yakov placed his right hand upon him.
Why is the blessing for Efraim and Menashe so special? Why was it given to them? When Yakov made them as his own children he made them like Shevotim. Normally the generation that follows loses a madrega. But Efraim and Menashe maintained the level of their previous dor. They became Shevotim. This while being the first dor to be raised in golus and remain loyal to the Torah. So the bracha was especially important there.
(48:15) When Yakov was to bless Yosef we see that he didn't bless him at all. He only blessed his son's. The Shelah and the Ramban say there is no greater blessing for a father than for his children to be good and follow in the paths of their fathers. Here Yakov blessed Yosef by saying "Veyikaray Bohem Shemy Veshaim Avosay" That they should go in the ways of their fathers. This was a tremendous bracha for Yosef and is the reason why it say's Vayevarach es Yosef.
(48:17) “ Vayidgu L’rove B’kerev H’Aretz-May they proliferate abundantly like fish in the land.” What is the meaning of “fish in the land?” Fish proliferate in water? Perhaps we can say that since Klal Yisroel will be spending the majority of their time outside of Eretz Yisroel in exile, they are like a fish out of water. The blessing then states, may you prosper even when you are out of your element in hostile surroundings. We know that in Egypt the more they were oppressed the greater they became. The years that Rashi lived were some of the most difficult times for Jews, and yet some of the greatest Torah works were compiled.
Another answer is that of the Midrash who states that when the Egyptians decreed that all Jewish babies be thrown in the Nile, the women would give birth in the fields. Miraculously the babies were absorbed into the earth and were sustained there until they were weaned. This is the meaning of the blessing here “like fish in the land.”
48:19-"I know I know" Why the repetition? The Kli Yakar writes we find throughout Jewish history that Hashem always raises the lower ones. Yitzchok and Yishmael, Yakov and Essav. Now Efraim and Menashe.The Meam Loez writes "Yakov knew" means the following. When Yosef saw Yakov switch hands he thought his father suspected him of having relations with Potifar's wife which would mean the elder is a mamzer! Yakov answered the extra "I know" to say that I know you withstood that temptation.
(48:20) “B’choh Yivorech Yisroel-By you shall Israel bless.” The blessings of Efraim and Menashe are given to our sons because they did not exhibit any jealousy towards each other, which was the reason for the Golus in the first place. Even when the younger was chosen over the elder. Why do we not bless with the Avos? Because Efraim and Menashe were the first Jewish children born in Golus.
(49:1)“Vayikra Yakov el-Bonav Vayomeru Heasfu Vagidah Lochem es Asher Yikrah Eschem B’achris Hayomim-Yakov called for his sons and said “Assemble yourselves and I will tell you what will befall you in the End of Days.” Parshas Vayache is the last in Sefer Bereishis, the sefer which lays the ground work for all the future generations. (Masser Avos Simin L’bonim The actions of the fathers are signs for the offspring) We would expect some profound message in the closing chapter of this sefer. Rashi is of the opinion that Hashem prevented Yakov from divulging the final Geulah, since we don’t see it revealed in the next words spoken by Yakov. Instead he appears to go on to something else namely the blessings of the tribes. But perhaps we can suggest that hidden in those blessings Yakov actually does reveal the final days.
Instead of disclosing the time of the final Geulah Yakov calls each of the tribes by name saying- “Heasfu-Assemble yourselves ” We know that Yakov died in the year 2254. If you add that number to the total Gematria of all of the names of each of the Shevotim (3746 counting Menashe and Ephraim instead of Yosef) you arrive at the number 6000. Yakov was saying “Assemble yourselves” in other words only through the Achdus-unity of Klal Yisroel (add up each of your names together) will we arrive at the Kaitz.
R.Zev Leff offers a different explanation. He says, based on a Midrash that instead of just revealing the Kaitz, Yakov wanted his sons to learn about their strengths. By blessing each son he was giving them the tools to be able to come closer to Hashem. To be able to give themselves a better ending.
(49:3) Hekovtzu V’Shemu Benei Yakov V’Shimu el- Yisroel Avichem-Gather yourselves and listen, sons of Yakov, and listen to Israel your father.” This is the only time that we find the names Yakov and Yisroel used in the same posuk. Why is it that the Torah switches names and also why does it repeat the word “listen”?
Benei Yisroel were beginning their long exile. Yakov the family patriarch, was preparing them for the long dark years ahead. They must first know that they are the children of Yakov. They must hear that they are a family of seventy souls entering a lions den of depravity. They must know that they are a nation with a common history, a heritage. This will unite them into a nation. But that is not enough. How could they not get swallowed up in this new culture? How is it that throughout history the Jews have survived centuries of exile and oppression? The answer is in the second half of this verse. “V’Shimu el- Yisroel Avichem-Listen to Yisroel your father.” Yisroel a name that represents eternity, of overcoming both man and angel. “Listen” further for only by connecting with Yisroel the spiritual side, will they be able to withstand what lies ahead.
(49:6) “B’kahalom Al Tachad Kivodi-Do not join my honor with their congregation.”Yakov did not wish his name to be mentioned with their conspiracy. The commentators differ on which conspiracy Yakov had in mind, a past or future one. It would seem that the future actions defined the past. When Levi and Shimon avenged their sister’s rape, they were acting for the right reasons. however their future actions were testimony as to the true motives. When the tribe of Shimon sinned with the daughters of Midian it reflected back to this sin. However when the tribe of Levi was asked to stand with Hashem by the Golden Calf, they proved themselves to be truly faithful.
(49:28) “V’Zos Asher Dibaer Lohem Avihem Vayivorech Osom Ish Asher K’VrichosoBerach Osom-And this is what their father spoke to them and he blessed them, each according to their blessing he blessed them.” Why is the word being blessed repeated? Yaakov wanted them to receive the blessing that was unique to them. Each of us has a particular blessing which Hashem has bestowed upon us. Yaakov wanted each of them to be able to take that good which was already given them by Hashem and make it into a fulfillment of their potential.
(49:33)" Vayigvah Vayai'osef el-Amov - He expired and was gathered to his people." Unlike Avraham (25:8) and Yitzchok's deaths (35:29) the posuk over here makes no mention of the word “Mase”. This may have prompted Rashi to quote the Gemarrah in Taanis (5b) which states "Yakov Avinu lo Mase - our father Yakov did not die." The Gemarrah in Sotah (13b) relates the scene at Yakov's funeral where Essav disrupted the burial. According to that gemarrah Yakov lived on even in the literal sense. After Chushim the son of Dan struck Essav so hard it caused his head to come off, Yakov apparently opened his eyes and laughed. Most of the commentators perceive the statement that Yakov did not die in a spiritual vein. The fact that this was only said of Yakov and not the other Avos could be explained by the fact that even though they all had offspring that could carry on their heritage, only Yakov had twelve complete sons that were all righteous. This was a virtual guarantee that there would be offspring that would carry on. Both Avraham and Yitzchok had no such guarantee. But on a more physical note Yakov so perfected his physical body that the transition from one phase to the next was almost non discernible. Death for most people is a wrenching experience because the soul must be removed from the material existence it had come to crave. The less materialistic a person is the easier the transition. Now since Yakov lived a life of total spirituality his body and soul both craved the holier life that awaited him. He had reached the level of Adam before the chet, when the body and the soul both had the same desires. For him there was no death.
(50:2) "Vayetzav Yosef es-Avodav es-Horofim Lachanot es-Aviv - Yosef commanded his servants the doctors to embalm his father." It would seem to be a strange act for Yosef to command that his father be embalmed. According to the Ohr Hachaim the reason for this was because Yosef knew that his father’s body would not decompose. Had the Egyptians seen this they would surely have proclaimed him a deity and not permitted him to be buried outside of Mitzraim.
(50:4) "Vayidabeir Yosef el-Beis Pharoh - Yosef spoke to the house of Pharoh." Why does the posuk say to the "House of Pharoh" instead of to Pharoh himself? The Meam Loez say's that since Yosef was still in mourning he could not seek personal audience with Pharoh. As long as his father was not buried he was considered an Onan. Such audiences were not granted to people who were grieving. Yosef had to speak to the officers in charge of Pharoh's house for permission to fulfill his promise to his father.
(50:13) "Vayisu Oso Bonav Artzah Canaan - His sons carried him to the land of Canaan." Rashi say's that only his sons and not his grandsons were permitted to carry the casket. The reason given is because his sons married Canaanite women. This would seem to be very strange because we know that the nation of Canaan was cursed and that marriage with them was forbidden from the days of Avraham. The Ramban explains that the term "Canaanite" means foreign women, whose fathers were merchants passing through the land of Canaan. According to the Midrash that maintains that Yakov's children married twin sisters it is possible to say that the reason his sons had to be the one's to carry the coffin was to set a precedence for the Shevotim in the Midbar who positioned themselves in the same order as those who carried the-Aron (R.Dovid Feinstien)
(50:15) “Vayar Achi Yosef Ki Mase Avihem-Yosef’s brother saw that their father had died.”What prompted the brothers to approach Yosef at this point and why would the Torah mention now that Yakov died? We have been dealing with Yakov’s death all along? However on their return from the funeral, Yosef stopped at the place where he was thrown into the pit. The brothers assumed he was remembering their crime against him. But instead Yosef was there to fulfill the mitzvah of making a blessing on the spot where a miracle was performed.
Yosef died ten years before his time. Some are of the opinion that it was because he had his father embalmed, he should have had more faith that Hashem wouldn't let his father’s body decay. Others say it's because he heard Yehudah say my father your servant ten times and didn't protest. However in the posukim we see it only mentioned five times? This is because he heard it from Yehudah five times, but he also heard it repeated from the translator five times.