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Parshas Vayigash: Why did Serach Live Such A Long Life?

Shemos Rabbah states that Yaakov transmitted the “secret of the redemption.”


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This is all wonderful, but how does it all connect with Serach? Be patient.

Hashem initially intended for people to live forever.  The Arizal states that if Adam and Chava would have been patient on that first Friday and refrained from eating from the Eitz HaDaas until Shabbos, Hashem would have given them to eat of the Eitz HaChaim and then from the Eitz HaDaas.  They would have eaten from the tree which provides eternal life, and then would have been granted permission to eat from the one tree forbidden to them.

One of the consequences of their cheit was death, as Hashem had forewarned, “For on the day that you eat [from the tree], you shall surely die” (Bereishis 2:17). Ramban explains that this was not to be taken literally – they didn’t die on that day, but rather brought mortality on themselves and their descendants.

After the cheit, Hashem decreed that Adam would live to be 1,000 years old. (He lived for 930 because, as the Midrash explains, when he saw that David HaMelech was destined to die as an infant, he donated seventy years of his life to him.)

Later, as a result of further transgressions, man’s lifespan was shortened even more. Rashi (Bereishis 6:3) explains that Hashem was disappointed with mankind’s misdeeds and decreed that he will live no more than 120 years. For example, Adam lived to 930, Shem to 600, Avraham to 175, Yaakov to 147 and Moshe, 120. Man’s lifespan was diminished further, according to the Malbim, after the Mabul. Until then, there were no extremes in seasons; the weather was always comfortable. After, Hashem established regular seasonal changes and a weakening of the human condition. The lack of ability to withstand these constant changes in weather resulted in a shortening of man’s lifespan.

Bringing together the kingdoms of Yehudah and Yosef, the Ten Tribes and the Two Tribes, is a big part of the world’s ultimate tikkun, the rectification toward Oneness, and return of the world to a Gan Eden state. Serach played a huge role in achieving this unity by convincing Yaakov to go down to Mitzrayim and reunite his family.  Through her actions, Serach helped recreate the unity of Gan Eden, the unity we pray will come in Yemos HaMashiach.

And these are some of the happenings in this week’s haftarah.

Rabbi Boruch Leff

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