The Lubavitcher Rebbe, Rabbi Menachem Mendel Schneerson, zt”l, notes that Yaakov Avinu’s years can be divided into three periods.
Yaakov Avinu spent the final seventeen years of his life in Mitzrayim. While there he lived in peace for the first time in many years and remained in that state for the rest of his life. Near the end of his days he called in his beloved son Yosef and made an impassioned request: “Please do not bury me in Mitzrayim.”
The opening pasuk in this week’s parshah states: “Vayechi Yaakov be’eretz Mitzrayim sheva esrei shanah… – Yaakov lived in Mitzrayim for 17 years…” The Gemara in Kiddushin 82a says that Avraham Avinu kept the entire Torah, even the mitzvos that may not have applied.
For most of his life, Yaakov Avinu suffered tests, trials and tribulations. It seems his days were spent moving from adversity to crisis. Clearly he didn’t have it easy, and the suffering took its toll.
Hashem’s kindness is limitless, and even when He administers judgment, it is tempered with kindness.
In this week’s parshah, Yaakov is reunited with his son Yosef after having being separated from him for 22 years.
What do porcupines do in winter? asked Schopenhauer. If they come too close to one another, they injure each other. If they stay too far apart, they freeze. Life, for porcupines, is a delicate balance between closeness and distance. It is hard to get it right and dangerous to get it wrong. And so it is for us.
Looking back in time it is amazing to realize that every so often we encounter a 24-hour period with a timeless impact on the trajectory of human history. These periods, though short in actual time, through the convergence of multiple factors, produced historic decisions—decisions that arguably affected humankind forever after.
“And Joseph went out over the land of Egypt” (41:45). This was one of the greatest tests he underwent in his career. Wearing the king’s ring (41:42), clothed in royal linen with a golden chain around his neck (ibid.), riding in the second royal chariot with runners before him (41:43), having full power over the land (41:44), having an Egyptian name and an Egyptian wife the daughter of a priest, he had every reason to disown his family which had so wronged him, and he could have without any effort become a full Egyptian in heart and soul.
The Bach, commenting on Tur Shulchan Aruch, explains that the decrees of the Yivanim against the Jewish people occurred because the Jewish people became “lax in their service.”
There has long been a massive debate in Anglo Jewry as to whether we should take a unified stance in our support for the State of Israel or openly air our differences. It’s mostly been a noisy and shrill debate, but it’s the wrong debate – as it is deflecting us from the real issue.
In the beginning of this week’s parshah the Torah says that Yosef brought bad reports about his brothers to their father, Yaakov. Rashi explains that in these reports Yosef stated that his brothers would eat eiver min hachai (a limb from a live animal), degrade the sons of Bilhah and Zilpah by referring to them as slaves, and that they were suspect of transgressing with arayos (immoral relations).
From Parshat Vayeishev to the end of Sefer Bereishit, we read the story of Joseph and his brothers. From the very beginning we are plunged into a drama of sibling rivalry that seems destined to end in tragedy.
Rashi tells us that after the Torah described the life of Eisav in an abbreviated manner, it then told over the events of the life of Yaakov in full detail.
The story of Joseph’s rise to power is striking. Each facet of Joseph’s life was a preparation for his grand career as one of Israel’s foremost leaders. In this episode, Rabbi Avigdor Miller, zt”l, found Hashem’s providence to be strikingly evident and saw in each incident of his life the future benefit for Israel.
Shechem, the son of Chamor, set his sights on Dina. He carefully laid a trap to entice her out of her tent, and then kidnapped and defiled her. When Yaakov and his sons heard what had been done, “they were extremely distressed . . . [and said] ‘So shall not be done!’ ”
By any standards it was a shocking episode. Jacob had settled on the outskirts of the town of Shechem, ruled by Hamor. Dinah, Jacob’s daughter, goes out to see the town. Shechem, Hamor’s son, sees her, abducts and rapes her, and then falls in love with her and wants to marry her. He begs his father, “Get me this girl as my wife.”
In this week’s parshah we read of the incident involving Dinah and Shechem, the son of Chamor, the nasi of the city of Shechem.
When Yaakov met Rachel at the well, he experienced conflicting emotions. He felt tremendous joy at having finally met his bashert, yet he raised his voice and cried.
The Jewish Press is proud to announce a new monthly column by the founder of the Shas Party, Member of Knesset Rabbi Nissim Zeev.