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Vertluch: Parshas Vayechi

As Jews we are obligated in saying the parshiyos of krias shema twice daily. You’ll notice that in the sequence we say ‘Shema Yisroel Hashem elokeinu Hashem echad’ followed by ‘Baruch shem kavod malchuso l’olam v’ed.’ Right after that we begin the parsha of Veohavta. It’s interesting to note that in the Torah it does not mention the pasuk of ‘Baruch shem’ and it appears to be out of place.

Where do we get that pasuk from? The gemara in Pesachim (43) states that prior to Yaakov passing he had called together all his sons and reminded them that each one of the forefathers had one good and one evil son. Avraham had Yitzchok and Yishmael, Yitzchok had Yaakov and Esav and now I have all of you. Given this pattern it is possible that one of you would perhaps stray. How can you assure me in confidence that all of you will indeed be true to the faith? His children answered him and said the pasuk of Shema. When Yaakov heard that he answered them with the pasuk of Baruch Shem.

Asks the gemara, what should we do? Moshe (in the Torah) didn’t include the pasuk of Baruch shem but Yaakov did. Therefore, Chazal were mesaken for us to say it but to do so quietly.

However, if we delve into this a little deeper we can ask, what exactly was the message that the Shevatim were trying to impart to Yaakov when they all called out in unison Shema Yisroel?

Nodah b’Yehuda in his sefer Tzelach on Pesachim says that the Hashems name ‘Adnus’ represent middas harachamim while the name ‘elokeinu’ represents middas hadin. There are times when He exercises compassion and times He forces justice; and as we know, justice can be hard. Every time we say Shema what we are saying is that Hashem called “Adnus”- representing rachammim and Elokeinu – representing din, is really all Hashem echad, all kindness. We may not be able to see it at the moment but we believe that everything Hashem does is for the best.

What the Shevatim were telling Yaakov was that they believe that Hashem is so kind and so good that no matter what we go through it’s all for the best. Someone who lives their life with that understanding displays that they are true and committed to their religion; and that’s how they comforted their father.

In last week’s parsha before Yaakov went down to Mitzrayim, Hashem told Yaakov not be scared: ‘Do not be afraid of going down to Mitzrayim, for there I will make you into a great nation. I will go down with you to Mitzrayim, and I will also bring you up, and Yosef will place his hand on your eyes.‘ (42; 3-4)

What seems to be meaning of ‘and Yosef will place his hand on your eyes’ and why was it placed at that particular place? It seems to have no relevance to what the pasukim are talking about?
Meshech Chochma offers a fascinating answer.

What Hashem was telling Yaakov was that you are indeed going to go down to Mitzrayim and this will be the beginning of a long and hard galus. The next two hundred and ten years will be very difficult for you, your children and you grandchildren. But have no fear, because I am going down there with you and I will make sure to eventually bring you up from there. He then explains the pasuk of ‘and Yosef will place his hand on your eyes’ as not to mean literally Yosef himself but rather, the story of Yosef. The entire saga of Yosef will place his hands on your eyes. Even if you don’t see that something will be good for you the story of Yosef will prove to you that the end result will be worth it. What you may see and perceive with your own eyes does not indicate that you have not accomplished your goal. Don’t judge things as they appear to you right now, at face value. Understand that there is a master plan and Hashem is controlling it all.

Yaakov thought he had lost his beloved child. He assumed he had failed and that since he no longer had Yosef, he must have not accomplished what he should have. Hashem was telling him I made this all happen for a reason. The entire story of Yosef was orchestrated by me. Let that serve as a reminder that I am the ultimate planner and all of this was done for your benefit. As hard as it was to bear, know that it was arranged meticulously by Hashem.


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