Raboyseyee and Raboyseyettes:
Winners and losers:
Pat yourselves on the back: as you read this week’s Toirah, you will have completed the entire sefer of B’reishis wherein the RBSO hut bashafen di gantze velt (created the entire world). We were zoiche (merited) to meet the heylige Ovois, their wives, the kinderlach and also saw in kimat (nearly) every parsha, a clear delineation between the chosen ones and those cast aside. Seemingly the RBSO does not love all equally. I thought we’d begin with a shtikel list of winners and losers of Genesis. Why not? The goyim make these lists at the end of each year but we Toirah loving Yiddin, at the end of a sefer.The losers include: Odom and Chava whose desire for fruit caused them to be removed from the great garden; nu, cake would have been better and safer. No one gets thrown out of anywhere for having a cookie. We also met the snake, another loser, whose legs were chopped off for seducing Chava. We nebech lost Hevel who was killed by his jealous brother and we’ll put Kayin into the loser column for committing the first act of murder. We met Chom whose son K’nan either sodomized or castrated (or both) Noiach. Chom was cursed by his father Noiach. Let’s not forget Yishmoel who was thrown out of his father’s house, Mrs. Loit who didn’t make it out of Sedoim, Eisav who raped an pillaged and who was deceived out of his birthright and his father’s brochos – he makes a final appearance in this week’s Parsha-, Leah who had a loveless marriage, Dina who was taken by Shechem, Chamor and Shechem and all male inhabitants of the city who were cut down by Shimoin and Levi, Yehuda who was nebech demoted from a leadership role from among his brothers yet rose to the occasion, if you chap, but still had had to pay for sexual favors with his own daughter-in-law, and Mr. Potiphar who after making advances on Yoisef became Mrs. Potiphar.
Our winners include Noiach, a man who charmed the RBSO before he took to the bottle, and his family who were selected to survive the great flood and rebuild society. Avrohom Oveenu, the first monotheist, the first to have a bris, albeit at 99 years of age and the first Toirah character to have multiple wives and seemingly also a boatload of Pilagshim (concubines), Mr. Loit who survived the debacle in Sedoim and also, albeit unwittingly, chapped from both daughters, Yitzchok who came a hair’s breath away from being sacrificed by his own father but at age 40 still chapped a three year old beautiful wife, Yankif, his mother’s favorite who was selected to become the father of the entire BNY and because even after being fooled into marrying the wrong girl, didn’t give up and went after and got his true love- Rochel. The big winner seems to be Yoisef who had to overcome many trials and tribulations including slavery, seduction and being locked up for 12 years but through his dizzying good looks and charm and avada with siyata dishmayo (help from above), rose to become the Viceroy of Egypt. Oh and let’s not forget Osnas who, though born from questionable lineage, was the mother of two inheritors of the land- Ephraim and Menashe and by whose names, we bentch our children weekly. So much for Yichus!
And before we get to this week’s Parsha where a few losers become winners, let’s quickly chazer (review) last week’s emotionally charged parsha of Vayigash where we learned that Yoisef exposed himself (literally as well) to his brothers, reconciled and also had an emotional reunion with his tata Yankif and they all lived happily after, at least for a while. It’s now seventeen years later and we’re ready to learn Parshas Vayichi. It’s time to draw the curtain on the entire sefer B’reishis but not quite yet. In this week’s parsha we’ll bid adieu to Yankif Oveenu but not before one final family gathering and also to Yoisef Hatzadik. Eisav loses his head and is buried. We’ll learn about the final brochos (blessings) the grandfather bestowed slyly on his grandchildren, his own children and also explore a few other surprising nuggets. Lommer unfangin (let’s begin) Vayichi.
Yankif feels that he’s close to death’s door. He summons his still favorite son Yoisef to his bedside for some last minute burial instructions. Let’s learn the possik.
|29. When the time drew near for Israel to die, he called his son Joseph and said to him, “If I have now found favor in your eyes, now place your hand beneath my thigh, and you shall deal with me with loving kindness and truth; do not bury me now in Egypt.||
כט. 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:
|now place your hand beneath my thigh: And swear. —As explained in the narrative of Abraham and Eliezer (Gen. 24:2), he meant that Joseph should swear by covenant of the circumcision.||
שים נא ידך: והשבע:
In case you forgot, Rashi quoting from Pirkei d’Rabbi Eliezer ch. 39 is again reminding us that Yankif meant that Yoisef should swear by the covenant of the circumcision and vos meynt doss (what does that mean)? Nu- since you forgot let me remind you. Back then, the only way to swear was to grab an item that represented a mitzvah and since it was before matan Toirah, there were no other real mitzvois to chap but the bris mila to hold onto. In other words, when one had to swear, he had to grab onto the mila (penis) of the person who asked him to swear. Let’s picture the scene: it’s one thing when your father asks that you accompany him to the mikveh on erev Roish Hashona and even that’s not so comfortable, it’s entirely another matter when your tata asks you to chap his mila and swear. Efsher (maybe), that’s why Yoisef didn’t contact his father for 22 years? Would you contact yours if he was going to make you grab his? Avada nisht! In fact, isn’t that the reason many of you were afraid to go to Yeshiva? How many times did your Rebbe make you swear that you would be a good bochur? Anyway, thanks to the RBSO we finally got the Toirah and we can finally swear without having to remove our hoizen (pants)!
And since Yoisef is already chapping, he takes this opportunity to ask Yankif to bentch his two children Menashe and Ephraim. With Yoisef holding on, Yankif is in no position, if you chap, to say no but Yankif, previously the victim of the old bait and switch- (having gotten Leah instead of Ruchil), seems to pull a last minute switch of his own. Yoisef positioned his sons with the firstborn Menashe to Yankif’s right and Ephraim on his left. At the last second Yankif switches hands and places his right hand on the younger Ephraim and the left on the elder Menashe….Nu- Yoisef was upset and tried to switch back his father’s hands, but Yankif wasn’t budging. What’s p’shat here? Why would Yankif do that to his own grandchildren? Would a zeyde show favoritism, even a father? On the other hand, isn’t favoritism what seems to have caused the entire mess?
Hadn’t Yankif learned his lesson from the special love he had shown Yoisef? Isn’t the entire book of Breishis (Genesis) one big chronicle of the jealousy between brothers? Wasn’t it jealousy that caused Kayin (Cain) to kill Hevel (Abel)? Didn’t tata Avrohum favor Yitzchok over Yishmael, and didn’t tata Yitzchok follow suit and epes favor Yankif over the paradigm of kibbud Av, Eisav? Oh- and did I mention the jealousy of Yoisef’s brothers towards him? I did! Yet Yankif stood his ground. What’s pshat?
Says Rashi: that takeh, the older son would be great, however, the younger brother was destined to have an even greater descendent, Yehoishua, who would lead the BNY into the promised land and perform other miracles including stopping the movement of the sun so he could end a battle in daylight. Mistama you’re klerring as to why Yankif didn’t simply give Menashe the greater blessing with the right hand, and have Yehoishua be his descendent? Isn’t that what Yoisef desired? Hey, if a fetus can fly out of womb ‘A’ and wind up in womb ‘B’ (last week’s parsha), why couldn’t the brocho be switched before conception? Takeh a gevaldige kasha but once again there’s a medrish with a teritz (answer). And what is it? Seemingly this trick only works with a live fetus but not with a brocho. Veyter (further).
Yankif gathers all his children for a final goodbye and takes the opportunity to deliver his final message or as we know them today- the final brochos he gave each child. He bentches (blesses) each son, or does he? Soon we’ll read about the brochos that the first three children received; oy vey is mir (woe is to me). For years as I was reading these blessings I kept thinking to myself that I would gladly have passed was I one of the first three recipients. As I read them, they’re everything but blessings; am I alone here? And before we go tiffer (deeper) into the brochois, I was also always wondering why Yankif didn’t take this opportunity at such an assembly to yell and scream and also ask the big question: why the hec did you guys lie to me for 22 years, would any of you not have asked? One would think that this would be the perfect opportunity to rebuke these rascals harshly and maybe even give them a few petch on their mechilas (asses) for having ruined 22 years of his life but surprisingly enough throughout the speech he never once rebukes the brothers about Mechiras Yoisef (the selling of Yoisef into salvery), or even mention the subject matter. Efsher he was afraid of Shimoin and Levi?
This of course begs the question: Did Yankif Oveenu know about mechiras Yoisef at the end of his life? The truth is that there is no clear-cut answer to this question, since the heylige Toirah gives no clear indication as to whether Yankif did or did’nt know. Guess what? It’s a machloikes. There are a number of hints that he did know and Rashi explains that Yankif had initially suspected Yehudah of having killed Yoisef, but then realized that he had withdrawn from the intention of doing so. Rashi adds that Yankif hints to the sale when rebuking Shimon and Levi, but most Mefarshim do not agree. The Ramban’s approach is that Yankif did not know about the sale. In fact, the brothers never revealed their sin to Yankif, and Yoisef, compassionate toward his brothers, did not want to tell his father. Zicher you’re wondering how could this be, how is it that when Yankif is finally told by the shvotim that Yoisef is alive, he doesn’t ask for details? Nu- who said you have to know everything? And let’s avada remember that the RBSO is the master puppeteer, perhaps the heylige shvotim were just pawns in the master plan? Maybe they were taka being directed by the RBSO and had no free will? Soon, we’ll address that.
All this avada begs another question: did the brothers really do t’shuva (repent) for their great sin? Moreover, what was so holy about these holy shevotim? The Abarbanel, however, says that Yankif did indeed know about the sale. However, he did not rebuke them because he understood that the brothers’ Bechirah Chafshit (free choice) was taka revoked when they sold Yoisef, as the RBSO forced them to do it. You hear this? It wasn’t their fault, the RBSO made them do it, what a defense! Yes, why not blame the RBSO? Grada (it so happens), Yoisef acknowledges this when he says, “Veata Lo Atem Shalachtem Osi Heyna Ki Haelokim…” “And now it was not you who sent me here, but the RBSO” Well, if we’re going to blame the RBSO for all of our wrongdoing, I guess we’re all Tzadikkim (holy); let’s party. Veyter.
So here we are: Yankif is about to pass away and is set to bentch each of the Shvotim, deserving kinderlach that they were. Says Ibn Ezra .( 49:1): “Those who say these are blessings, on the grounds that the passage concludes with the words “and he blessed them,” are mistaken; where are the blessings to Reuven, Shimoin and Levi? And so far as the conclusion “and this is what their father said to them” (49:28) ‘and afterwards he blessed them’, [this is true] but Scripture does not mention what the blessing was.”[In other words, what came before are not blessings.]
First up Reuven, remember him? Says Yankif: Reuven, you are mamish a minuvil! You chazir (pig ) that you are! You are my firstborn son and you had everything coming your way including the birthright and more but you had sexual relations with Bilah, my wife, your own stepmother- how could you? Mistasma, you already forgot that Yankif had four wives- two sisters (Leah and Rochel) and another set of sisters (Bilah and Zilpah). Reuven is taken by surprise by this blessing. As Yankif’s bechor, he was expecting a double portion but seemingly he had already double dipped, if you chap. Anyway, says Yankif…. because you were so hasty to jump into bed, you have lost your firstborn rights. Seemingly Yankif wasn’t all that upset that Reuven was in on the plot to sell Yoisef but his bedding Bilah, that stuck in his craw and avada who could blame him? Anyway Raboyseyee: jumping into bed too hastily always causes issues, especially with the help!
Says the Malbim quoting Sifrey Kaballah that the emes is that Yankif was supposed to have fourteen sons. He was to have twelve from his four wives and then after Rochel passed away, he was to have two more children. Ober, when Reuven then went and switched his father’s bed, he prevented the last two from coming into existence. Reuven had to repent for this act and thus put in some extra effort in order to save Yoisef who was destined to be the father of Efraim and Menashe. They would be considered the completion of the fourteen children stemming from Yankif. You see how the RBSO has a master plan? In fact, when Yankif met Efraim and Menashe, he asked Yoisef who they were. Yoisef responded, they are the children whom the RBSO blessed me, בזה (with this) (see Rashi). Yoisef was hinting to Yankif that these two children would be the completion of the Shevatim. The numerical value of “בזה” is fourteen! Gishmak mamish!
Next up were Shimoin and Levi who also take a shmeising (get berated) for their violent temperament. So pissed off is Yankif that he mamish curses their temper, he calls them co-conspirators- indictment terms mamish. Just imagine the scene: the tata is laying on his deathbed and instead of bentching his boys, he gets bent out of shape. What was bothering him? Seemingly he was still pissed off that the two boys, in an act of revenge for Shechem the chazir having raped and tortured their shvester Dina, wiped out the entire male population. Judging by his anger, one might have thought that they forgot to use a kli shaynee on shabbis, or efsher maybe something worse- they tore toilet paper on shabbis to wipe their michillas, or worse- what could be worse?. Takeh killing all the males was a bit extreme but Yankif seems to be carrying a grudge.
You can just imagine the look on Yehudah’s face when it was his turn for the brocho Says Rashi that when he heard the brochos that his older brothers were getting, he started planning an escape route. The Chachomim (sages) tell us that at this point, after hearing his brothers’ not so givaldige blessings, Yehudah started to tiptoe toward the door, anticipating a lambasting for his conduct with Tamar. Then Yankif called to him in a soft tone, Yehudah, Yihedaleh! You are not like them. You are the one with leadership qualities. You admitted to being the father of Tamar’s children, despite the considerable embarrassment it caused you. This demonstrated an inner sense of morality. And as a special reward for your behavior during the entire episode, the Moshiach will eventually come from your tribe. Efsher this is the reason that chasidim like going to their local Zoina’s- efsher they’re trying to produce the Moshiach!! You hear this chevra? You want to outshine your brothers and take over as the leader and have kingship and royalty come from your mishpocho? All you need to do is sleep with your daughter-in-law, condemn her to death, then admit that you got her pregnant with twins and offer her a pardon- you’re in! Veyst tzich ois (it appears) that Yankif was relieved that at least Yehudah, unlike his two older violent brider (brothers) didn’t kill Tamar and her mishpocho and the entire city she came from, though he had so initially decreed.
Yankif continues to bless him: “The scepter shall not leave Yehudah and lawmakers from his descendents, until Shiloh (the Messiah) arrives.” Hey hey- it was the scepter that he did leave behind that got him into trouble to begin with. Didn’t he know that when visiting a roadside zoina (hooker), to clean up and take all his possessions with him? And avada you don’t get the local zoina trugidik (pregnant). Anyway, seemingly Yankif understood that when it comes to matters of sex, men cannot control themselves and instead of shelting (cursing him out), he instead heaps a series of brochos on him. He gets the first real brocho, let’s see the possik.
We’ll skip the rest of the shvotim, seemingly they’re only bit players- followers if you will, and they don’t get much attention either way in the heylige Toirah, and go straight to Yankif’s favorite son Yoisef.
Listen to this Raboyseyee: Yankif spends the next five pisukim of the heylige Toirah heaping praise and myriad brochois on Yoisef, most brothers get one possuk (nu, it’s avada good to be the Viceroy). Ober- let’s pay special attention to Rashi who says something so outlandish, it’s mamish hard to picture. Then again for you oisvorfs, it’s perhaps easier. Let’s see what he says in the shaded box below- read this carefully
|the one who was separated from his brothers: Heb. נְזִיר אֶחָיו [Onkelos renders:] דַאִחוֹהִי פְּרִישָׁא, who was separated from his brothers, similar to“and they shall separate (וַינָּזְרוּ) from the holy things of the children of Israel” (Lev. 22:2); [and]“they drew (נָזֹרוּ) backwards” (Isa. 1:4). – [From Sifra Emor 4:1] [Returning to verse 24, Rashi continues:] Our Rabbis, however, interpreted“ But his bow was strongly established” as referring to his (Joseph’s) overcoming his temptation with his master’s wife. He calls it a bow because semen shoots like an arrow. וַיָּפֹזוּ זְרֹעֵי יָדָיו [וַיָּפֹזוּ is equivalent to וַיָפֹצוּ, scattered, that the semen came out from between his fingers.]||
נזיר אחיו: פרישא דאחוהי, שנבדל מאחיו, כמו (ויקרא כב ב) וינזרו מקדשי בני ישראל, (ישעיה א ד) נזורו אחור. ואונקלוס תרגם תאות גבעת עולם, לשון תאוה וחמדה, וגבעות לשון (שמואל א’ ב ח) מצוקי ארץ, שחמדתן אמו והזקיקתו לקבלם:
Stop the presses right now and let’s look at the last 7 lines of Rashi again please. What? Semen came out from between his fingers? What is going on here? Where and how did semen make its way into the parsha and Rashi here? And what’s this bow and arrow talk in the parsha, is it Lag B’oimer? Nu, zorg zich nisht (don’t be worried) and let’s learn pshat. Says the heylige Gemora (Soitah 36B) azoy:
Yoisef was sold as a slave to Potiphar. Potiphar’s wife tried to seduce him, and although he initially rejected her advances, he eventually gave in and seemingly also went in, if you chap. Say it’s not so please! As he was about to complete the illicit act of relations- shrecklich mamish (OMG)-, the image of his father suddenly became fixed in his mind, and he relented. Said Reb Yoichonon azoy: “His strength was firmly founded” –meaning- his Ever (member) was erected. “And gushed out from his hands” – he stuck his hands in the ground, and the semen came out from between his fingernails. He dug his fingernails into the ground in order to control himself, and miraculously, the flow of semen issued from his fingers into the ground instead of issuing into Potiphar’s wife. Well, blow me down! Can’t believe what you just read? Let’s learn it noch a mol (one more time). Efsher (maybe) Yoisef did sin in thought, and drops of his semen issued from between his fingernails, but he did not complete the evil act by injecting [his seed] into that foreign woman. Therefore, his skeleton was buried in Israel but not his body. As an aside, the Marsho suggests that the semen did escape from its usual source, avada this you can understand.
The Gemora, quoting a Breysa goes on to say that Twelve Shvatim should have descended from Yoisef, like from Yankif- but since the semen exuded from his (10) fingernails, he merited only two sons. Of course he only had two sons, seemingly the rest of his juice slipped through his fingers. Efsher, had his zerah come from and gone into the right places, he would have taka had another 10 children; ver veyst? Whatever happened or not, is none of our business and zicher no excuse for you chazerrim to put yourselves in a situation where semen can come out of your ever or fingernails or any place else and end up in the wrong place- Loi olaynu, chas v’sholom. Anyway…Yankif dies, (I think) and they’re off to the levaya. Veyter:
What took place? Says the heylige Gemora (Soitah 13a) when the funeral procession arrived in Chevroin (Hebron), a surprise was in store for them. Uncle Eisav had preempted them, claiming that the last remaining grave was rightfully his. The brothers argued, “Our tata (father) bought you out for a giant pile of silver and gold and let’s not forget that delicious chulent he made for you! Eisav answered: nu- where’s the document? “We left it at home in Mitzrayim” they replied. “Go get it!” Eisav responded. As the swift Naftali prepared to run back to Mitzrayim, the situation was saved by Yankif’s grandson Chushim, the son of Dan. He was big and strong, but a little deaf but seemingly not dumb. When he chapped that Eisav was holding up Zayde’s funeral, Chushim became enraged, walked up to Uncle Eisav, and literally knocked his head off. Shoin! A family tradition if you will: my way or death! This was a fulfillment of mama Rivka’s prophecy that “I will lose you both on one day.” According to tradition and what we were taught in Yeshiva, Eisav’s head rolled into the cave. We can assume he had a flat nose. The understanding is that Eisav’s head (his intellectual capacity) was equal to that of the Ovois (patriarchs), but his bodily desires got the best of him, if you chap; avada, many of you can relate.
Do all agree that Chushim killed Uncle Eisav? Avada nisht. And there are three opinions as to what took place; the first, read above, is most famous. Ober says the Yalkut Shimoni quoting another Chazal: that Yankif himself killed Eisav with an arrow. And says another Medrish that way back when, Yehuda saw that Eisav was conspiring to kill Yankif as he went into the Meoras HaMachpeila to bury Yitzchok, Yehuda ran in and killed Eisav from behind. Hence, the words of our verse, “your hand is against your enemy’s neck”. (Toisfos Gittin 55b).
Yankif passed away at the age of 147, did he? Expired, yes, but died? The heylige Gemora is not so sure he ever died. Say the heylige Toirah azoy: “When Yankif finished instructing his sons, he drew his feet onto the bed, he expired and was gathered to his people.” Rashi, quoting the heylige Gemora, comments, “It does not say that he died…. He lives forever.” Said Rebbe Yoichanan, in the Gemora, “Our father Yankif, did not die. Rebbe Nachman asks, “Did the mourners eulogize him and the embalmers embalm him for nothing?” Rebbe Yoichanan quotes the verse in Yirmiyahu: “Have no fear, my servant Yaakov…for behold I will save you from afar and your descendants from the land of return.” Just as his descendants are alive, so too is he. Avada you’re thinking how could this be when the Toirah explicitly states that Yankif was embalmed and buried. Not to worry, this is the medrish and the Gemora and anything goes.
On the one hand, we can interpret this statement homiletically: Yankif lives on through later generations. As long as his descendants, the Bnei Yisrael, are alive and following his legacy, he lives on. Still one has to wonder how Rebbe Nachman accepted this answer. The Torah explicitly states that Yankif was embalmed and buried. He answers that every verse in the Toirah must incorporate the words of our Sages, even when logic dictates otherwise. When Rebbe Yoichanan states his interpretation, it is not just a homiletic exercise, but a mesorah (tradition) going back to Sinai. It defines the meaning of the verse: his embalmment must be understood in that context—he only appeared to be dead. This concept is integral to understanding all of Chumash: to read the Toirah without seeing it through the prism of the commentaries is dangerous. All you got to do is believe and all else makes perfect sense.
Chazak- Chazak and a gitten shabbis-