Parshas VaYechi

 

וַיִּקְרְבוּ יְמֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל לָמוּת וַיִּקְרָא לִבְנוֹ לְיוֹסֵף וַיֹּאמֶר לוֹ אִם נָא מָצָאתִי חֵן בְּעֵינֶיךָ שִׂים נָא יָדְךָ תַּחַת יְרֵכִי וְעָשִׂיתָ עִמָּדִי חֶסֶד וֶאֱמֶת אַל נָא תִקְבְּרֵנִי בְּמִצְרָיִם: (בראשית מז/כט)

On the possuk (Braishis 47/29), “And (Yaakov) called for his son for Yosef….” the Medrash comments, “Why didn’t he call either for Reuvan or for Yehuda. (After all,) Reuvan was the first born and Yehuda was the king? Rather (he called for Yosef because) it was in the hands of Yosef to execute (Yaakov’s request to be buried in Maaras HaMachpaila). Therefore (it is written), “And he called for his son for Yosef“.

Zera Shimshon asks that the wording in the Medrash seems repetitious. The Medrash opens with the possuk, “And (Yaakov) called for his son for Yosef….” and asks why did he call for Yosef instead of Reuvan or Yehudah. The Medrash answers that it was because he had the ability to carry out Yaakov’s request. Seemingly the Medrash should have finished there, since the Medrash asked a question and gave an answer. Why, then, did the Medrash continue and re-quote the opening possukTherefore (it is written), “And he called for his son for Yosef“?

He answers that there are two reasons why someone is appointed to an important position. One reason is that he can “get the job done”. There is nothing special about him, only that he can do the job better than anyone else. Sometimes, however, he obtains the position in order to honor him. Even if there was someone else as qualified for the position as he is or even more qualified, he still will get the position because for some reason he deserves the honor.

According to this idea Zera Shimshon explains that the initial question of the Medrash was, 
Why did Yaakov choose Yosef to supervise his burial? This seem to indicate that he was honoring him and making him the head of the family. The Medrash was bothered why did Yaakov want to make Yosef the head of the family over Reuvan, who was the first born, and Yehuda who was destined to be the king.

The Medrash answers that Yaakov didn’t appoint him for this task to honor him but merely because he was the only brother who had the ability to carry out his desire to be buried in Eretz Yisroel in Maaras HaMachpaila.

The Medrash re-quotes the possuk that they started with “And (Yaakov) called for his son for Yosef….” to prove this point. There seems to be a problem with the wording of this possuk. Why didn’t it just write, “And (Yaakov) called for Yosef….”, without the words “for his son” preceding “for Yosef“? We already know that Yosef was his son.

The answer is that it is teaching us that he didn’t call Yosef to honor him because there was something special in him. Rather he called for “his son” who was just like all of his sons. If there would have been a different son who would have been able to bring him to Eretz Yisroel then he would have called him. ax Yosef was chosen only because he was the only one who was able to make sure that Yaakov would not remain in Mitzrayim but be buried in Maaras HaMachpaila.

2

וַיִּקְרְבוּ יְמֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל לָמוּת וַיִּקְרָא לִבְנוֹ לְיוֹסֵף וַיֹּאמֶר לוֹ אִם נָא מָצָאתִי חֵן בְּעֵינֶיךָ שִׂים נָא יָדְךָ תַּחַת יְרֵכִי וְעָשִׂיתָ עִמָּדִי חֶסֶד וֶאֱמֶת אַל נָא תִקְבְּרֵנִי בְּמִצְרָיִם: (בראשית מז/כט)

On the possuk (Braishis 47/29), “The days of Yisroel grew close to die…” the Medrash comments, “Everyone (the Avos) knew and expressed with their mouth that they were about to die. Avraham said…. Yitzchak said…. and EVEN Yaakov said, ‘I am going to lie with my fathers…’. When did he say this (the Medrash asks)? When he was close to dying”.

Zera Shimshon asks two questions. Firstly, why does the Medrash stress that EVEN Yaakov knew that he was about to die? Why would we think that he was any different than the other Avos? Secondly, why does the Medrash mention that they mentioned their passing away at the time right before they died?

He explains in light of two Medrashim. The first one is the Yalkut Shemoni (Tehilim Remez 874/5) that says that tzaddikim are so precious to Hashem that it is, so to speak, difficult for H.m when they die. Therefore if they would not themselves ask to die then Hashem would not take their life away from them and that they would live forever. After they ask to die, though, Hashem says that it is good because this allows their children to also be leaders. If Avraham would not have died how could Yitzchok ever become a leader?

The second Medrash explains that since Hashem doesn’t simply take away tzaddikim’s life without their asking, when their time comes H. shows them the tremendous reward that waits for them in the World To Come in order that they will ask to die.

We can now understand, explains Zera Shimshon, why it is more difficult to understand Yaakov’s asking to die then the other Avos. In the case of Avraham and Yitzchok they asked to die for the good of their sons- in order that they will also be leaders. However this doesn’t apply to Yaakov since his son Yosef ruled even in Yaakov’s lifetime. Therefore the Medrash stresses that EVEN he asked to die.

But the question remains, why then did Yaakov ask to die? The answer is that he asked when he was “close to dying”. At that time Hashem showed him the magnificent reward awaiting for him in the World to Come in order to persuade and lure him to ask to die.

3

Look in a Sefer Torah and you will see that before every new parsha there are 9 blank spaces. In addition to these blank spaces most parshios also begin on a new line, but even the few parshios that don’t start on a new line they are proceeded by these spaces. There is, however, one exception: our parshaParshas Vayechi. There are no spaces that separate last week’s parsha, Vayigash and this week’s parsha Vayechi.

Rashi explains in the name of the Medrash the the reason for this is, “since Yaakov Ovinu passed away (in this parsha) the eyes and heart of (Clal) Yisroel closed from the pain of the bondage that (the Mitzrim) began to force on them.

Zera Shishmon asks that Rashi seemingly contradicts himself! In Parshas Vayairo (Shemos 6/15) he writes that the bondage didn’t start until all of the children of Yaakov passed away and not, like he writes here, when Yaakov himself passed away.

He asks another question that the words “eyes and hearts of (Clal) Yisroel closed” suggest that the bondage was extraordinarily difficult. However this is hard to understand since Clal Yisroel suffered only as the bondage carried on and not in the beginning (like Chazal teach us that they were “sweet talked” (pehrach) into the bondage).

He answers these questions according to a concept that he derives from a seeming contradiction between two explanations that Chazal give why a tzaddik dies.

One reason is that it is to attone for the sins of the generation and to protect the generation from, or at least to minimize, the punishment that they deserve.

A second seemingly contradictory reason is that Hashem takes the Tzaddik from the world in order to bring the punishment that they deserve! (As long as the Tzaddik lives his merits protect the generation.)

He answers that if a tzaddik’s death protects from punishment or hastens it depends on how the generation reacts to the death. When they mourn and eulogize him appropriately, his death prevents punishment. However, if they don’t mourn him appropriately, not only does his death not prevent punishment but it also adds to the punishment that they were previously meant to receive.

He points out something very interesting; we only find that Yosef mourned Yaakov passing away and not the rest of the brothers. To such a degree, that when the Torah describes the Canaanim’s reaction to Yaakov’s funeral procession, they exclaimed (Braishis 50,11) “this is an intense mourning for Mitzrayim“. They don’t even mention Yaakov’s children!

According to this Zera Shimshon answers his two questions.

The “real” intense suffering of the bondage actually started only with the passing away of all the children of Yaakov (like Rashi writes in Shemos). However in the beginning, at the time of the death of Yaakov, Hashem “closed their eyes and numbed their hearts” in order that they wouldn’t properly mourn and eulogize him.

H. did this in order to carry out the 400 years of bondage that H. promised. If they would have eulogized Yaakov then his death would atone for our sins and H. would not be able to start the years of bondage which was necessary to purify Clal Yisroel.

We were destined to be in bondage for 400 years. Therefore, Hashem “closed our eyes and heart” so they wouldn’t feel the pain of losing Yaakov and therefore they wouldn’t mourn him properly in order to bring on the exile! HaRav Shimshon Nachmaini, author of Zera Shimshon lived in Italy about 300 years ago in the time of the Or HaChaim HaKodesh.

The Chida writes that he was a great Mekubal and wrote many sefarim including sefarim about practical kabbolo but asked that all of his sefarim be buried after he passes away except for Zera Shimshon and Niflaos Shimshon on Avos.

He had one child who died in his lifetime (hence the name Zera Shimshon) and in the preface he promises for people who learn his sefarim after he dies ... And your eyes will see children and grandchildren like the offshoots of an olive tree around your tables, wise and understanding with houses filled with all manner of good things and wealth and honor

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Parshas Mikaitz/ Chanukah

(ז) וַתִּבְלַעְנָה הַשִּׁבֳּלִים הַדַּקּוֹת אֵת שֶׁבַע הַשִּׁבֳּלִים הַבְּרִיאוֹת וְהַמְּלֵאוֹת וַיִּיקַץ פַּרְעֹה וְהִנֵּה חֲלוֹם:וַיְהִי בַבֹּקֶר וַתִּפָּעֶם רוּחוֹ וַיִּשְׁלַח וַיִּקְרָא אֶת כָּל חַרְטֻמֵּי מִצְרַיִם וְאֶת כָּל חֲכָמֶיהָ וַיְסַפֵּר פַּרְעֹה לָהֶם אֶת חֲלֹמוֹאֵיןפּוֹתֵר אוֹתָם לְפַרְעֹה: (בראשית מא/ז-ח)

.. and Paroah woke up and behold it was a dream. And it was in the morning; he was overcome with worry, so he sent and called all the sorcerers of Mitzrayim… (Breishis 41/7-8)

Zera Shimshon asks three questions on this possuk. Firstly, it seems from the possuk that even though Paroah woke up in the night he wasn’t overcome with worry until the morning. Why wasn’t he worried about his dream right when he awoke?

Secondly, why does it even mention that he woke up? It’s understandable why after the first dream it says that he awoke. This is in order to tell us that he want back to sleep and dreamt a second time. But here why does the Torah make any mention that he woke up?

Thirdly, the phrase “And behold it was a dream” seems to be superfluous.

He also asks another question; Why didn’t Paroah accept the interpretation of his sorcerers.

He answers in light of the Gemorra in Berachos (55b) that says that there are three types of dreams that are fulfilled; a dream that was dreamt in the early morning, a dream which a friend has about someone else, and a dream which is repeated.

According to this, he answers the three questions. After he dreamt the second dream, which was similar to the first one, he felt that this was a sign that something is going to happen. He didn’t yet know what this was going to be, but he felt that these dreams are telling hims something. This is the meaning of the phrase, “and behold it was a dream!”

After he realized that he dreamt this dream early in the morning (that we see from the phrase “And it was in the morning”), another sign to the validity of the dream, he become uneasy. He didn’t understand why he wasn’t shown the third sign of a valid dream. If there would have been only one sign, he would have been at ease and sure that something would be happening. However since, for some reason, one sign wasn’t enough he couldn’t understand why there weren’t all three signs.

Because he was waiting to see the third sign he didn’t accept the interpretation of the sorcerers who explained that the dream was referring to his daughters.

However, when Yosef interpreted that the dream had to do with the whole world, the third sign, he immediately accepted this explanation!

2

וַיְהִי מִקֵּץ שְׁנָתַיִם יָמִים וּפַרְעֹה חֹלֵם וְהִנֵּה עֹמֵד עַל הַיְאֹר:(בראשית מא/א)

And it was at the end of two years and Paroah dreamt and he was standing on the river. (Braishis 41/1)

The Yalkut Shimoni (remez 147) comments on this verse, “And Paroah dreamed… and why were two years added? In order that Paroah would dream and (Yosef) would be made great through this dream”.

Zera Shimshon comments that we learn from this Midrash that Paroah’s dream was meant to be at this specific time. In other words, Paroah’s dream was not only a way

that Hashem used to free Yosef from jail. .Rather it was the opposite: since Paroah was meant to dream at that time, therefore Yosef was freed from jail.

He asks, though, why was it so important that Paroah dreamed specifically at that time?

He answers this question in light of the Gemorra in Megilah that Yaakov had to suffer twenty two years as a punishment for the twenty two years that he left home and didn’t fulfill the mitzvo of Kibud Av V’aim.

Therefore if Paroah would have dreamed any earlier then the years of plenty would have been sooner, the years of famine would have been earlier, and Yaakov would have made contact with Yosef earlier before the twenty two years ended. Hashem therefore waited two extra years for Paroah to dream to finalize the twenty two years.

Zera Shimshon continues to ask that how can it be that Yosef stayed in jail for two extra years solely so his father, Yaakov, would recieve the punishment that he deserved? Where is the justice?

He answers this question by quoting Rashi in the end of last week’s parsha that Yosef ALSO deserved to be punished because he put his trust in the Saar HaMashkin.

He concludes that these two reasons don’t contradict each other but, on the contrary, they complement each other. Meaning, if Yaakov didn’t deserve to be punished for not fulfilling the Mitzvo of Kibud Av V’aim, then Hashem would have found a more lenient punishment for Yosef.

And if Yosef didn’t deserve to be punished then Hashem would have caused some other way to delay Yaakov’s coming together with Yosef.

It was only that they both deserved to be punished did Hashem keep Yosef in jail and delay Yaakov’s coming to Mitzrayim!

3

The mitzvah of nair Chanukah (Chanukah candles) is to light at sunset. (Shabbos 21b) The mitzvoh of nair Chanukah is for each family to light one candle…(Shabbos 21b)

The Mitzvoh of nair Chanukah is to place in the doorway that faces the public street. If he lives in an attic… (Shabbos 21b)

The halacha is to put (the Chanukah menorah) on the left side of the door so that the nair Chanukah is on the left and the mezuzah on the right. (Shabbos 22a)

Simply understood, Chazal instituted the mitzvah to light candles or oil on Chanukah in order to commemorate the miracle that happened to Clal Yisroel after they won the war against Antiochous. After they consecrated the Bais HaMikdash and they came to light the Menorah they found enough oil for only one day. In the end though it burned for eight days, until they were able to produce pure oil.

Zera Shimshon asks that if this is the main reason for this mitzvoh then it is hard to under- stand the four halachos mentioned above.

Firstly, the daily mitzvoh to light the Menorah in the Bais HaMikdash was in the late after- noon (according to the Rambam it was also in the morning) and it was assur to light it in the night. This being so it would have been more appropriate to institute the lighting in the late afternoon, the time that the Cohanim lit every day and not after sunset when it was assur for them to light.

Secondly, the Cohanim only lit one menorah for all of Clal Yisroel. Therefore it would be more appropriate to light in Shul for the whole congregation, similar to the menorah in the Bais HaMikdash, and not each family in their own house.

Thirdly, why did Chazal institute to light in the doorway next to a public street. The menorah in the Bais HaMikdash was inside the haichal.

And fourthly, why did the Gemmoro mention the place of the mezuzah in connection with the place of the Chanukah menorah.

He answers in light of the Medrash that explains that Antiochous wanted to ìdarken the eyes of Clal Yisroelî with his decrees to prohibit making milah, keeping Shabbos, and Rosh Chodesh (and according to the Rambam, all of the mitzvos).

Since these decrees are described as darkening the eyes of Yisroel, then it stands to follow that the salvation is considered as giving light to Yisroel. In other words, the main reason for lighting the nair Chanukah, is to commemorate that we went miraculously from the darkness of not being able to do mitzvos to the light of doing mitzvos.

According to this we are now able to answer all of the questions that we asked.

We light the Chanukah menorah in the evening and not in the late afternoon because Shlomo HaMelech compares mitzvos to light. Chazal teach us that a candle in the day isnít noticeable (since there is sunlight), therefore we light only in the night so the light of the candles will be noticeable, similar to mitzvos.

The main place for people to do mitzvos in in the privacy of his house. Therefore Chazal in- stituted lighting in our houses. Since however a mitzvoh done in public has a special status therefore we also light in Shul.

We light in the doorway to remember that Antiochous sent his representatives to check that Clal Yisroel were not keeping the mitzvos.

Even nowadays, when Baruch Hashem, in most places in the world there are no decrees against mitzvah observance, we can still benefit from putting the Chanukah menorah in the doorway.

The Arizal explains that the mezuzah protects us from the yetzer hora. Therefore Chazal insti- tuted putting the menorah opposite the mezuzah so that we will be protected from the yetzer hora on the right and through the menorah on the left we will remember to perform the mit- zos. It is for this reason that Chazal mentioned the place of the mezuzah in connection with the place of the Chanukah menorah!HaRav Shimshon Nachmaini, author of Zera Shimshon lived in Italy about 300 years ago in the time of the Or HaChaim HaKodesh.

The Chida writes that he was a great Mekubal and wrote many sefarim including sefarim about practical kabbolo but asked that all of his sefarim be buried after he passes away except for Zera Shimshon and Niflaos Shimshon on Avos.

He had one child who died in his lifetime (hence the name Zera Shimshon) and in the preface he promises for people who learn his sefarim after he dies ... And your eyes will see children and grandchildren like the offshoots of an olive tree around your tables, wise and understanding with houses filled with all manner of good things and wealth and honor These d’vrai Torah are dedicated to Esther Yenta Bas Chana Chassia. In the merit of the learning Zera Shimshon’s divrai TorahHashem should answer her prayers and she should quickly find her proper match along with all the other members of Clal Yisroel who are also looking for their zivug hagun.

If you are interested in buying your own copy of the Hebrew version of Zera Shimshon

Call 05271-66-450 in Eretz Yisroel

or

347-496-5657 in the U.S.A.

You can now  HEAR shiurim of Zera Shimshon on Kol Halashon:

In E. Yisroel: 073-2951-727 or 03-617-1111 and then press 1,1,3,24

In U.S.A. (718) 395-2440 and then press 2,6,4,24

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