Is Yankif still alive?
Shoin! Sefer Bereishes, wherein we met our heylige Ovis, Emois (patriarchs and matriarchs) and many other very colorful Toirah characters, and 2012 are coming to a quick end, and pat yourselves on the back: as you read this week’s Toirah, we, the collective Oisvorf community, will have completed the entire sefer of B’reishis tzim-drtittin-mul (for the third time). Avada we’ll sorely miss the many more than amazing stories including that of creation, Odom, Chava and the Nochosh (snake) ober not to worry because as early as next week, we’ll meet another magical snake, one that doubles as a shtekin (stick); avada you can relate to that, if you chap. And with Parshas Vayichi which we will lain (read) this week, we’ll also bid a fond adieu and aviderzeyn to some of the many fascinating personalities we met in recent weeks and months.
With Parshas Vayichi, we say a final goodbye to Sefer Bereshis. We will also bid adieu to Yankif, Yoisef and many others, never to be mentioned again in the heylige Toirah until…next year of course when they will magically come to life and we will read their stories once again and be mesmerized by each one as if we were reading them for the first time. Actually, that’s not entirely emes because later in Sefer Devorim, Moishe will again bentch (bless) the Shevotim (tribes) and they really needed it. Nu, is anything better than the heylige Toirah? How many other books can you read over and again? Though Vayichi marks the end, it’s really a new beginning. Avada it’s the end of amazing stories and events: creation of the world, man, Noiach, Avrohom, Soro, Loit and his special daughters, Yitzchok and his young bride, Lovon and his chicanery, Yankif and his four wives, Eisav, Dina and her encounter with Shechem, the holy but mischievous brothers, Yoisef, Potiphar, Mrs. Potiphar, and a few that mistama we left off the list.
And as Bereishis comes to an end, so does seemingly the practice of grabbing someone by the mokoim mila (lower region) when swearing ober as parshas Vayichi opens, avada we have one last opportunity to read those five famous Hebrew words that nebech and very sadly many Yehsiva Rebbes, camp counselors, NCSY and Pirchei leaders and lately, others in authority, repeat over and again, ad hayoim hazeh, to their innocent victims? Oy vey! Says the heylige Toirah azoy:
|29. When the time drew near for Israel to die, he called his son Yoisef 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 Yoisef should swear by covenant of the circumcision.||
שים נא ידך: והשבע:
Nu, after you read what these words mean, you can easily chap the answer to a question that’s plagued many medroshim and others for generations: why didn’t Yoisef make an effort to contact his father for the last 22 years? And soon we’ll explain.
Explains Rashi (again) quoting from Pirkei d’Rabbi Eliezerch. 39 that Yankif meant that Yoisef should swear by the covenant of the circumcision, and vos meynt doss (what does that mean)? Though Rashi has previously explained this in detail twice before, seemingly you oisvorfs already forgot and in this case, that’s not so giferlich; nu, let’s chazir it on more time. 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. Nu, it’s one thing when your father asks that you accompany him to the mikveh on erev Roish Hashona and even that’s not very comfortable, it’s entirely another matter when your tata asks you to chap his mila and swear.
And with Rashi further illuminating the subject matter so that we chap what these words really meant and how they played out, efsher we can kler (posit) that Yoisef was taka afraid that his father would make him swear as to his whereabouts for so many years thereby causing Yoisef to grab what no son should have to. That would not be a good or pleasant chap.
Would you contact your father if you knew what’s in store? Avada nisht! Efsher Yoisef had enough of this swearing gisheft during his 22 years in Yeshiva of Shem and Ever,and hey, isn’t Yeshiva the place where such skills are honed? Yikes! Nu, thankfully, the RBSO decided to give the Yiddin the heylige Toirah and other holy books by which we can swear, and life is avada better. Moreover, we can now swear without having to remove our hoizen (pants)!
By next week this time, the Yiddin will already be enslaved to Paroy, minuvil that he was, we will read of their suffering, the promised redemption, Moishe and so much more ober this week, Yankif is still alive (some say he taka never died) and lommer lernin a bissel parsha. Ober to chap, we must avada quickly chazer (review) last week’s emotionally charged parsha of Vayigash where we learned that Yoisef exposed himself (literally as well) to his brothers, again to his little brother Binyomin, reconciled and also had an emotional reunion with his tata Yankif and they all lived happily after, at least for a while. Shoin: that was the gantze parsha. As we begin Vayichi, it’s seventeen years later and we’re ready to learn. Lommer unfangin (let’s begin) Vayichi.
Yankif feels the malach hamoves (angel of death) hovering. He calls for a family meeting, all his kinderlach, seemingly two grandchildren snuck in ahead of time for their own brochois. Interestingly enough, those we recite weekly at the shabbis tish. His plan: to reveal details about the end of days which mistama he knew through ruach hakoidesh (divine inspiration). Ober the RBSO nixes Yanif’s plans and he, Yankif, calls an audible and goes to plan B. In plan B he will address each of his children and give them special brochois (blessings). Is that what he did? At this gathering Yankif will continue the tradition of selection vs rejection, a topic we covered at the very end of last week’s Vayigash edition. Efsher you recall the Oisvorfer telling you that throughout Sefer Bereishes, we came across characters that were singled out, loved by the RBSO and their parents while others, usually their siblings, were seemingly rejected by at least one parent, the RBSO and sometimes both. Rejection by both was zicher not a key to long term success. Let’s review,why not?
‘Tis the time of year when the goyim make lists: they are busy making resolutions for the coming year which will mistama last as long as our promises to lay off the challah, kugil and chulent. Ober by untz Yiddin (us Jews), the season for resolutions and tshuva has long gone, they’re mostly or all also broken, we’re zicher back to our routine of aveyrois, each according to his own predilections, if you chap. Instead, at this time, we’re busy looking at advertisements for different Pesach programs where we can recall the 210 year slavery and relive the ultimate redemption poolside, the tea room or dining room of any of the myriad hotels that cater to thousands of Yiddin who think that making Pesach at home is efsher osur (verboten) min Hatoirah: it’s not?
Nu, let’s taka once again review the big winners and losers, first of Parshas Vayichi and then a quick roundup of the entire Sefer Bereishis before we utter those three givaldige words of Chazak, Chazak, Vinischazake.
It does epes appear that Yankif is still playing favorites and though he has 12 boys, seemingly only 3 walked away with substantial brochois. A few were neutral while others don’t epes sound like brochois to the Oisvorfer. And to chap what took place, we must avada begin with Reuven, the bechoir (firstborn) and this is how it all played out.
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? Mistama, 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 bechoir, 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! Avada not all agree that Reuven did this with Bilah and to be fair, some suggest that Reuven was merely moving the bed and though this could be pshat, seemingly Yankif wasn’t sold on this interpretation and though on his deathbed mamish, he seemingly did not forget this little incident.
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 with 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 quite angry 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 Yehuda’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, Yehuda started to tiptoe toward the door, anticipating a lambasting for his conduct with Tamar. Let’s not forget that Yehuda was also at least a shtikel co-conspirator in the sale of Yoisef, in fact, wasn’t it his idea? Ober Yankif called to him in a soft tone, Yehuda, 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. It does?? 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 Zoinas- 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, later admit that you got her pregnant with twins and offer her a pardon- and you’re in! Veyst tzichois (it appears) that Yankif was relieved that at least Yehuda, 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 Yehuda 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. 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, two others followed.
Next up were Yissoschar and Zevulun but neither of them were singled out for leadership, but immediately after Leah’s sons, we read this about Don (Dan) – the eldest of the children of the maidservants. “Don shall judge his people, like one of the tribes of Israel.” Though Don was born to the help, Yankif blessed him with being “like one of the tribes of Israel,” . Don received a leadership role and his special status will be repeated later in Moishe’s brochois to the shevotim (tribes), where Don will receive a blessing similar to the one now bestowed on Yehuda: Said Moishe: “Don is a lion whelp that leaps from Bashan.”
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 shreklich (shocking), 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. נְזִיראֶחָיו [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 SifraEmor 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 זְרֹעֵייָדָיו [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, zorgzich 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. Sounds like presidential material, if you chap. Nonetheless, because some seed did spill from wherever, 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, so to speak. 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.
Following the gishmake brochois only a father can give, Yankif passed away at the age of 147. Did he? Expired, yes, but died? The heylige Gemora is not so sure he ever died. Says 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. Ober not to worry, this is the medrish and the heylige Gemora; anything goes. We just have to believe.
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 Toirah 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 have to do is believe and all else makes perfect sense.
So who’s on our list of losers and winners in Sefer Bereishis? The losers include: Odom and Chava whose appetite for forbidden 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’ll also condemn Chom whose son K’nan either sodomized or castrated (or both) Noiach. Chom was taka 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, both ways according to Rashi and who knew better, 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 to pay for sexual favors with his own daughter-in-law, and Mr. Potiphar who after making advances on Yoisef became Mrs. Potiphar. Oh and let’s not forget Reuven, Shimoin and Levi who would have been better off before they received their father’s brochois.
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. Our second biggest winner, though it could easily be argued that he’s really the biggest winner of all, is Yehuda who, though toppled from his leadership position following his roadside incident with Tamar, rose yet again, if you chap, and was selected for royalty and kingship forever. The big winner seems to be Yoisef who had to overcome many trials and tribulations including a plot to kill him, slavery, seduction and a 12 year bid 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!
A gittin shabbis-
The Oisvorfer Ruv