Yaakov summoned all his sons to give them his final blessings before he was ready to leave this world. These blessings were not just good wishes but they were also pregnant with prophetic allusions to their futures.
Entries in VaYechi (13)
This Shabbos we read Parshas VaYechi. It is the first Shabbos Chazak of the year and in this parsha the B’nei Yisroel received the Brachos from Yaakov Avinu. There is a famous story brought in HaYom Yom (18 Teves) in connection to Parshas VaYechi
Toward the end of Parshas VaYechi a very intriguing discussion is recorded between Yosef and some of his brothers. Following their return to Mitzrayim from interring their father Yaakov, Yosef’s brothers were gripped by a sudden fear.
As Yaakov lay “dying,” he gathered all of his sons to his bedside and blessed them. In truth, three of his sons, Reuven, Shimon and Levi, were actually censured for their temperament. Rueven was criticized for his impulsiveness and Shimon and Levi for their anger.
Before departing from this world, Jacob blessed Joseph and his two sons, Ephraim and Menasheh. When Jacob placed his right hand on the head of the younger son, Ephraim, and his left hand on the head of the older son, Menasheh, Joseph tried to correct his father. Jacob explained that Ephraim, though the younger brother, would be greater than his older sibling, Menasheh.
The advantage of the feminine aspect is underscored by the order of the four Imahos of the Shvatim, spelling out the acronym “barzel.” * All together we go to our Holy Land, “a land of wheat, barley, grape, and fig, pomegranate, a land of olive oil and date honey,” “a land whose stones are barzel, iron.”
If the Torah only had emphasized that Z’vulun will be a supporter of Torah it would not have conveyed and captured the essence of this blessing. Rather, the blessing he received is that he will never lose sight of his essential goal, without compromising his own mission as Z’vulunite. While fully appreciating the challenge and opportunity he has to make this world a dwelling place for G-d and enable others to learn…
In each generation, the soul of Moshe is manifest within … the nasi ha’dor, the leader of the generation. Indeed, “there is no generation within which there is not someone like Moshe.” There must be a “Moshe” in each generation within which the soul of Moshe is manifest, enclothed.
Our Sages teach that if a physical sense is put into question, contradicted by something that has been conveyed by the holy Torah – in that case we conclude that the physical sense is mistaken, and [in the case of Yaakov Avinu] it only appears that the process of embalming had been done.
Even the thought of distinguishing among Jews the extent to which they embody “his descendants are alive,” and how much more so regarding speaking or publicizing it – this detracts from the life of Yaakov Avinu, G-d forbid, and it is the opposite of simple faith in the Torah of Moshe, which states “Yaakov Avinu did not die,” for “just as his children are alive, so is he alive.”
What does Rav Yitzchok gain by saying, “there should be no talk at meals,” while in the very same breath with which he states this rule (at the meal) he seems to be breaking it? * Yaakov is beyond the natural limitations of the world; he is not confined by the laws of nature which insist that there must be death in the world.
For thousands of years the Jewish people have been subjected to the worst forms of tyranny and oppression – the inner Esau – culminating with the Holocaust and the spread of Communism in the last century. The primary challenge we have today comes from our over indulgence in the material world – representing the inner Yishmoel.