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Shabbat Morning Class - Parasha Vayechi

Rabbi Mansour 2010
Shabbat Morning class
???? ????
"???? ???? ???? ????? ??? ???? ???"
"And Yaakov lived in the land of Egypt seventeen years"
Our holy Torah is full of instruction. It is not ?''? a story book. Everything mentioned in the Torah is for the purpose of teaching and instructing us how to live our lives. The word ???? comes from the word ????? - to teach.
What lesson is the Torah teaching us by giving us the number of years Yaakov was in Egypt? This is a simple mathematical equation that any child can make! Yaakov was 147 when he passed away, and he was 130 when he arrived in Egypt. 147-130=17. What message is the Torah sending us by telling us it was 17 years?
The Midrash on this Pasuk says that just like Yaakov lived in Egypt for 17 years, so too Rabeinu Hakadosh lived in the town of Tzipori for 17 years. The Midrash continues by telling a story about Rabeinu Hakadosh who suffered for 13 years with intense toothaches (Toothaches are from the most severe suffering. The teeth are connected to the heart. There are 32 teeth in the mouth corresponding to the ?? -heart which numerically equals 32). The entire period that Rebbi suffered with these toothaches there was no woman in the land of Israel who died during childbirth, and there were no miscarriages as well. After 13 years of toothaches, Eliyahu Hanavi appeared to Rabeinu Hakadosh as Rebbi Chiya. He placed his hand upon Rebbi’s mouth and healed him from his toothaches. The next day Rebbi Chiya himself came before Rebbi and inquired about his toothaches. Rebbi told Rebbi Chiya that ever since yesterday, when he had placed his hand upon his mouth, the pain was gone! Rebbi Chiya insisted that it was not him, he had not seen Rebbi the day before! They both realized that in fact it had been Eliyahu Hanavi who had appeared as Rebbi Chiya and healed Rabeinu Hakadosh.
When R’ Chiya realized that Rebbi’s toothache were now gone he exclaimed "woe to the mothers who are ready to give birth, and woe to the children in the wombs of their mother". They have lost their protection! As long as Rebbi was suffering they were protected, but now that Rebbi’s pain was gone, they were vulnerable!
What is this Midrash’s intention by comparing the 17 years Yaakov lived in Egypt to the 17 years that Rebbi lived in Tzipori? Why does the Midrash follow this with a seemingly unrelated story about Rebbi’s teeth?!
To explain, we need to understand a concept called " "????? ???? . The meaning of "????? ????" is that sometimes the Neshama of a Sadik will enter the body of another person either temporarily or permanently. An example of this is what happened to the Ben Ish Chai. The Ben Ish Chai writes that when he was younger he went to the Kever of Benayahu Ben Yehoyada, the general of King Solomon. The Ben Ish Chai stayed at the Kever for three days after which all of the Torah became clear as day for him. The soul of Benayahu had entered the Ben Ish Chai and illuminated for him all the secrets of the Torah. The Ben Ish Chai attributed his success to Benayahu, and he named his Sefarim after him (Benayahu, Ben Ish Chai, Ben Yehoyada, Mekabse’l).
Another example is Rabbi Yishak Abuhazera. The Neshama of the Arizal (R’ Yishak Luria) entered the body of R’ Yishak Abuhazera (they both share the name Yishak). It is written that the Neshamot of the Tzadikim sometimes enter the fish we eat, (fish, as opposed to meat, does not need slaughtering to make it kosher, this makes it a "holier" food that needs less preparation to be made kosher and therefore it is the food that the Sadikim enter) this is why it is recommended to eat fish on Shabbat, in order to benefit from the Neshamot of the Tsadikim.
The Neshama of Yaakov Avinu entered the body of Rabeinu Hakadosh and as mentioned in previous Shiurim, this caused a strong connection between Rabeinu Hakadosh and Yaakov Avinu.
Rabeinu Hakadosh was deeply connected to Yaakov Avinu. The Ben Ish Chai explains that Rabbi was actually the Gilgul (reincarnation) of Yaakov. This is hinted to in his name ?' ????? ????? , the word ???? stands for "??? ???? ?? ???? ?????" (he is the spark of Yaakov Avinu).
We find this connection hinted to in several places. For example; Rebbi stated the Mishnayot with the laws of Shema of Arbit )????? ????? ?? ??? ??????( , and Arbit was the Tefilah established by Yaakov Avinu. In addition, we see that the first three Berachot of the Amidah correspond to the three Avot. The first Berachah corresponds to Avraham Avinu, as it ends "Magen Avraham". The second corresponds to Yishak
Avinu, it ends with " "???? ????? because Yishak was "revived" from the dead upon being taken down from the alter at the time of Akeidat Yishak. The third Berachah corresponds to Yaakov Avinu, it ends with ??? ????? . Rebbi was also called ?????
????? .
There is a term in the Gemarah exclusive to Rabeinu Hakadosh in which the Gemarah says: "??? ????, ???? ???" -"Rebbi says, I say". This term is written 18 times throughout ?"? . When Rebbi would give his opinion on a matter, he would preface it by saying "I say" etc. This is a strange way to give an opinion and is used with no one else in the Gemarah! It also seems a bit haughty ?''? by saying "I say"! Rebbi was the most humble of men as the Gemarah says: when Rebbi passed away, humility was gone". Surely Rebbi had a deeper intention when saying these words! The explanation is that in the words "???? ???" the connection between Yaakov and Rebbi is hinted. The word ??? stand for "??? ???? ????" or "???? ???? ?????" ("I am a spark from Yaakov"). Rebbi was prefacing his words by saying ??? to show that it was not him giving this opinion, it was the Yaakov Avinu inside of him saying it! It was actually out of Rebbi’s humility that he was saying "???? ???" to show that it was not to his credit that he thought of this statement it was to the credit of Yaakov Avinu!
There was another Sadik that merited the soul of Yaakov Avinu. This was Rebbi Akivah. We say in the Aneinu of the high holidays "???? ???? ????" . The letters ???? ????
also spell ??? ????? !
Rebbi Akivah was known for his famous dictum "?? ????? ????? ??? ????" -"whatever Hashem does is for the good" This is illustrated in a story about Rabbi Akivah when he went to a town and was denied lodging, he was forced to spend the night in a forest outside the town with only his donkey, rooster, and a lantern. A lion came and ate his donkey, but Rabbi Akivah remained optimistic and said this is for the good. Then a cat came and ate his rooster and a wind came and extinguished his lantern, but he still remained positive and said "this too is for the good"! In the morning when he awoke, he was told that the town he was trying to say in was attacked by bandits and they killed everyone in the town. His donkey, rooster, or light would have alerted the bandits of his presence, and he too would have been killed. "You see" exclaimed Rabbi Akiva, just like i said; everything Hashem does is for the best! Rabbi Akivah was explaining, that it was precisely because he had this positive attitude that things worked out good for him! The first letters of ?? , ???? , ?????? (rooster, donkey, and lantern) spell out the word ??? like it says; ???? ????? ? ??? ?????? (literally; "the words of the sages are listened to when spoken gently") when you go with this attitude, hinted
by the word ??? that everything is for the good, then your words will be listened to by Hashem and man.
Where did R’ Akivah’s solid belief that everything Hashem does is for the best come from? It came from the Neshama of Yaakov Avinu that was inside of him. Yaakov Avinu was the one who imbued this idea into his descendants, and it was this spirit of Yaakov Avinu that resonated inside Rabbi Akivah that caused him to personify the mantra "all is for the good"!
Yaakov Avinu experienced showed him that even when things seemed bleak, in reality it was a manifestation of Hashem’s complete kindness. His son Yosef had been taken from him and was away for 22 years. It seemed as if he was gone and this was a tremendous blow to Yaakov. It saddened him, it aged him, and it caused him to stop having direct prophecies from Hashem. After 22 years he was told that Yosef was still alive and not only that, he was told of the tremendous test that Yosef had passed with the test of the wife of Potiphar. As a result of Yosef passing this test he implanted inside the Jewish people the ability to resist the temptations of the Egyptian people and insured that no Jew would intermarry throughout all the years in Egypt! The Jews were oppressed and beaten yet no one fell into intermarriage! This was all in the merit of Yosef Hasadik, on account of his passing this test. In addition to this, Yosef was now the leader of Egypt, and he sustained his entire family with dignity. It was now evident to Yaakov, that what seemed tragic was truly a wonderful blessing for the entire Jewish nation! From that point on, this became a focal lesson for Yaakov to transmit to his children. Everything, no matter how it seems, is for the good!
This answers our original question. Why was it necessary for the Torah to list the number of years (17) that Yaakov was in Egypt? The number 17 is the numerical value of the word ??? -good. The word ??? (year) can also mean "teach" (as in ????? -to teach). "???? ???? ???? ????? ??? ???? ???" -"Yaakov lived in Egypt 17 years"
This means that throughout the duration of Yaakov’s stay in Egypt, he taught 17! "??? ????- ???" -he taught )???( , this concept of 17 )???( ! He taught that all is good! He realized in retrospect, the kindness of Hashem, and sought to instill this belief into his children. The 17 years Yaakov lived in Egypt correspond to Yosef’s age when he was taken at 17.
Yaakov realized that in reality Hashem was being merciful to him and his son throughout the entire ordeal. When Yaakov finally met his son after the 22 years he cried out "??? ????? ?' ????? ?' ???" ! The name of Hashem of ???? represents
Hashem’s kindness. The name of Hashem of ????? represents strict judgment. Yaakov was saying: " ?'- ????? " that in reality both ???? and ????? – ?' ??? , is only 1 its only ???? , it’s the kindness of Hashem! What seems like its ?????-??? judgment is really Hashem’s mercy! This is why when Yaakov Avinu gathered all of his children they declared ???
?????... and Yaakov responded ???? ??... -Blessed is Hashem! It was at that moment that Yaakov knew that he had been successful in transmitting this vital message to his children.
This message was crucial to their survival in the bitter exile that awaited them and in all the future exiles as well. This is why Rabeinu Hakadosh, who was connected to Yaakov, began the Mishnayot not from the first Misvah in the Torah, and instead started with the laws of ??? of the evening. The evening Arbit is the Tefilah of Yaakov Avinu and it is the time of darkness which represents a lack of clarity. We declare in such times; "Shema Yisrael" in complete faith that all is good. This was the message of Yaakov and subsequently of Rebbi. This explains the Midrash’s connection of the 17 years Yaakov lived in Egypt to the 17 years Rebbi lived in Tzipori. Rebbi too embodied this idea of 17-??? , all is good "?? ????? ????? ??? ???? ". This explains why the Midrash follows with the stories of Rebbi’s toothaches and its healing. When Rebbi Chiya cried out "woe to the pregnant woman of Israel and woe to the children in their mother’s womb" it became clear to Rebbi that as a result of his suffering an untold amount of lives had been spared! It was evident that the pain of Rebbi had been a source of blessing to the Jewish nation!
This is precisely the connection between the 17 years of Yaakov and the 17 years of Rebbi. Hashem’s decrees, no matter how they seem, are truly for the best! It’s all ??? (17).
This is why Rebbi Akivah, who was also connected to Yaakov Avinu, had preached this idea throughout his life. As he was being tortured and killed by the Roman’s he declared "??? ????? " It was the same message of Yaakov " ?' ??? " it’s all one and it’s only good, even though he was being tortured to death! His students asked; "?? ??? "-(even this?) is even this torture good?! R’ Akivah responded "?? ???" - all my life was about this! Hashem is always good!
There is however a point that still needs to be clarified. If this was the attitude of Yaakov Avinu, why is it that he responded so negatively to Pharaoh when he was asked about his age?? The Pasuk says: "????? ???? ?? ???? ??? ??? ????? ????? ????
??? ??? ????? ??? ??? ??? ??? ??? ????? ?? ??? ??? ??? ???? ???? ???????" -"and Yaakov said
to Pharaoh, the days of the years of my pilgrimage are a hundred and thirty years; few and evil have the days of my life been, and have not attained to the days of the years of fathers in the days of their pilgrimage"
Yaakov was punished for responding in this matter to Pharaoh. On account of the 33 words of the Pesukim, he lost 33 years of his life (the 33 words include the words of the Pasuk where Pharaoh questions Yaakov " "??? ??? ??? ???? -"how old are you?" the reason being, that Yaakov’s aged appearance "forced" Pharaoh to immediately come forth with this question. Yaakov was therefore punished even for his appearing to Pharaoh in such a stressed state). Hashem said "I saved you from Eisav, from Lavan, I returned Dinah and Yosef to you and you still complain"?!
If Yaakov was so positive of Hashem’s goodness how could he have complained to Pharaoh?! How are we to understand his response; ??? ????? "few and evil" are my years?! This was the exact opposite of what he stood for!
To understand this, we need to know a concept that was explained by the Baal Shem Tov Zechuto Yagen Aleinu. It says in Halacha: "?? ?? ????? ????? ???? ???? ?????
??? ????? ?????" -"whoever is not obligated in something, cannot fulfill someone else’s obligation in it". For example a minor may not fulfill an adult’s obligation to hear Kiddush on Shabbat, since the minor himself is not obligated in the Misvah. A non Jew cannot fulfill the obligation of a Jew in anything, since he himself is not commanded in the Misvot. Only a full fledged adult Jew may fulfill on behalf of someone else their obligation, since he himself is obligated in the Misvah. This is the literal understanding of these words.
The Baal Shem Tov explained these words on a deeper level. The great Sadikim have the ability to lift up their students and community from the low levels up to the highest levels. In order to do so, the Sadikim first have to lower themselves to the level of the people in order to bring them back up with him. The Sadikim pass by Gehinom en route to Gan Eden in order to "pick up" their people that are in Gehinom. An example of this idea is when Moshe Rabeinu came down from the mountain and saw the Jewish people worshiping the golden calf he angrily threw down the Luchot that were in his hands. Moshe did this with great calculation. It says ?? ????? ????? ????
????? ??? (whoever gets angry, is as if they worshipped idols). Moshe purposely threw down the Luchot in anger in order to join the Jews in being guilty of idol worship. In this way, when he would raise himself back up he would raise the Jews with him! In the end it worked - the Jews were indeed forgiven.
"?? ?? ????? ????? ????" -"whoever is not guilty of something (the word ????? is from the words ???? –guilty) "???? ????? ??? ????? ?????" - cannot extract (????? also means to extract) others from their guilt!
Only the Sadikim who themselves are "guilty" of something can exonerate, and save their students from that situation! It’s as if the Sadik must bend down, and dirty himself so that he can pull us all out from the mud! This is why we have sometimes seen our great Rabbis in places that are beneath their dignity, or in environments not suitable for them and wonder "is this place for a Rabbi"?! In reality they are saving
us! It is with great calculation that the Rabbi puts himself in an environment he would much rather not be in; this is in order to save the people!
We are advised before every prayer to bind our prayer with the Sadikim and say before every prayer: "I connect myself with all the Sadikim especially etc. (he should name Sadikim). We attach ourselves to the Sadikim in order that they elevate our Tefilah with their merits, for without the merits of the Sadikim what do we have?!
Yaakov Avinu was purposely led by Hashem to say these words of complaint to Pharaoh in order that he be guilty of this very concept he sought to solidify. Now that he himself was "stained" by saying this, he would have to "clean himself" and when he would clean himself from this attitude he would also clean all of Israel! He would imbue in us all this knowledge of ??? ????? that everything that happens to us is for the best!
The proof to this is that the Zohar says that David Hamelech’s Neshama did not have any years of life to it. Avraham, Yaakov, and Yosef all willingly contributed years of their life in order to give life to David Hamelech (Avraham gave 5 years, Yaakov gave 28 and Yosef gave 37 years. This totals the 70 years of the life of David Hamelech). If so, how are we to understand that it was from a punishment to Yaakov that he lost years of his life? It seems from the Arizal that Yaakov gave of his years willingly to David?! We therefore must say that actually the years were given by Yaakov willingly, and that the comments of Yaakov to Pharaoh was set up by Hashem in order to help Yaakov instill in all the Jews this faith, by first stumbling, then lifting us all up with him!
The Shulhan Aruch, the practical sefer on Halacha, states that a person is obligated to have this mentality that everything that Hashem does is for the good. It’s not just a meritorious attitude to have but it’s a halachic obligation! The Ben Ish Chai explains further; the more you say this (not just think it but say it) the better things turn out! Positive attitude breeds positive results and vice versa. We sometimes find people
who are constantly negative, and things seem to never work out for them! We must actively take this positive attitude into our lives and realize the goodness of Hashem. How many stories do we have when we look back at times and say; "wow it really worked out perfect"!? Hashem loves us more than we love ourselves! He only does what is best for us. Let us take this lesson of Yaakov Avinu to heart and Beezrat Hashem we will merit to see clearly with our own eyes the goodness of our merciful Hashem. Amen!

Parashat Behaalotecha- Rectification is Always Possible
Parashat Naso- Emuna First
Shavuot- Celebrating the Eternal Torah
Shavuot- The Challenge – and Rewards – of Torah Commitment
Parashat Behar- Experiencing the Sweetness and Delight of Torah
Parashat Emor- Keter Shem Tob 'The Crown of Good Reputation'
Parashat Ahare Mot- Planting Our Spiritual Trees
Parashat Shemini- Respect and Reverence in the Synagogue
Pesah: Redemption Then and Now
Pesah- Its A Mirage
Parashat Vayikra- The Triple Sin of Dishonesty
Parashat Pekudeh- Counting the Things That Matter
Parashat Ki Tisa- The Sanctity of Every Jew
Purim and the Sale of Yosef
Parashat Terumah- The Torah’s “Footsteps”
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