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Vertluch: Parshas Vayechi

When Yosef brought his children to Yaakov to receive the berachos, Yaakov told him ‘And now, your two sons who were born to you in Egypt before my coming to you, to Egypt, they are mine; Ephraim and Menashe shall be mine like Reuven and Shimon. But your progeny whom you beget after them shall be yours; they will be included under the name of their brothers with regard to their inheritance. (48; 5-6)

When reading this one must ponder and ask, shouldn’t the opposite have been true being that Yaakov actually spent more time with these grandchildren once he had arrived and settled in Mitzrayim? Shouldn’t he have felt closer to the ones who may have ‘grown up on his lap’? Prior to him arriving in Mitzrayim he didn’t know Menashe and Ephraim for most of their younger years. Why then were they dearer to him more than the children born once he had settled there?

Reb Moshe Feinstein, z’tl, answers, that the tachlis and ultimate goal of raising ehrliche children is to have these children continue in your ways even after you are no longer on this world. When a person raises children they grow up and have their father to help them and guide them throughout; it is very easy for the child to follow the tasks that their father has set forth. Once a parent has departed, the difficulty is for the children to continue maintaining the lifestyle of their father, since he is no longer around to give them guidance.

Yaakov was telling Yosef that they were separated for twenty two years. He wasn’t there; he was not involved in his life; yet, he saw his children were exactly what he would have wanted them to grow up to be. What that told him was that he was mechanech Yosef and trained him so well that he gave over his belief to his children-even without him around. The biggest success for Yaakov was that Yosef was able to raise his children just as Yaakov would have-but in Mitzrayim-surrounded by these horrific and morally corrupt people. It showed him that he had indeed imparted into Yosef the proper hashkafa which allowed him to give it over to his children! For this reason he had a special love and affection for them-for they still grew up to be these special people and were able to continue his legacy without him.

We see a similar idea in the Shabbos zemiros where we say ‘hashomer Shabbos ha-ben im ha-bas’-someone who keeps Shabbos with his son and daughter, ‘l’kayl yiratzu k’mincha al machavas’, is as if he brought a korban mincha on a machavas. There were two types of minchos that were brought. One was a marcheshes-which was a pan with walls (like a pot) and the other, a machavas-which was a flat-like vessel without any walls (akin to a griddle). Why did the composer compare one who keeps Shabbos with their son and daughter to a machavas and not a marcheshes? My rebbi said over in the name of his rebbi, R’ Moshe Shapiro, shlit’a, that a pot that has walls (a marcheshes) needs the walls to retain what is inside the pot. A machavas is pshat that the food or object has the ability to contain itself without any outside support. Someone who keeps Shabbos properly with his children and educates them in Shabbos properly so they can transmit it to the next generation-it is desirable to Hashem like a machavas-it is self-contained. There is no need for any outside support to hold it in. One can be sure that their future generations will have that special appreciation for Shabbos just as they had instilled in their offspring.

As parents we all have responsibility to train our children; but it’s not enough just to train them but rather that the training that we give them is strong enough that will enable and allow them to train their children.

A rebbi of mine once went to visit on elderly yid in Yerushalayim. While waiting for this yid he struck up a conversation with his rebbetzin. What she said to him stayed engrained in his mind until today. She said, ‘when I daven every day I don’t just daven for my children; I daven for my grandchildren and their children and their children and their children, etc; for all future generations.’

We cannot limit our site and our goals to our children alone. We have to expand our sight and vision to the future.

May we all be zoche to have the ability and the strength to give over to all of our descendants just like Yosef was mechanech his children in the same foreign society filled with anti-Torah ideals.


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