Meir Panim delivers warmth, special care to families in need.
In this week’s parshah, Yaakov is reunited with his son Yosef after having being separated from him for 22 years. When they met, the pasuk says that Yosef fell on Yaakov’s neck and cried extensively. Rashi quotes a medrash that says that while Yosef did this, Yaakov did not fall on Yosef’s neck, nor did he kiss him. The medrash explains that Yaakov was reciting Krias Shema at that moment.
There are several questions that bothered the mefarshim regarding this episode. First, why did Yaakov feel the need to recite Krias Shema at this moment? Second, if it was indeed the appropriate time to recite Krias Shema, why did Yosef not recite it? The Taz and the Vilna Gaon (Orach Chaim 61:1) – based on the opinion of the Rush (Berachos 1:5) that one may interrupt the recitation of the Krias Shema to inquire about the wellbeing of one’s father, rebbe, or a king – ask why Yaakov did not pause to inquire about Yosef’s wellbeing, since he was a king. We find that Yosef was considered a king, for when Yosef came to visit his ill father, Yaakov sat up in bed (Bereishis 48:2) – and Rashi explains that he did so to show respect for the king.
The Gur Aryeh explains that when Yaakov met Yosef it was not the time to say Krias Shema. Rather, the reason that Yaakov was reciting Shema at this time was because it was the custom of tzaddikim that at a moment of simcha they would be mekabel ol malchus shamayim (by reciting the Shema) in an effort to channel that simcha toward accepting the yoke of Hashem. Additionally, Reb Yehoshua Leib Diskin says that the ultimate purpose of the middah of love is to love Hashem. Therefore, when one experiences an overwhelming measure of that middah, he should focus it on his love for Hashem. So Yaakov recited Shema in order to use the love he was experiencing toward Hashem.
The Taz and the Vilna Gaon answer that the halacha that one may interrupt Krias Shema to inquire about the wellbeing of one’s father, rebbe, or a king does not apply to the first pasuk of Shema – only to the rest of Shema. Since Yaakov was in the middle of the first pasuk of Krias Shema he was unable to interrupt himself, even to inquire about the wellbeing of his son the king.
Others understand that it was indeed the appropriate time to read Shema, and therefore Yaakov recited it. As for Yosef, the Sifsei Chachamim explains that he was exempt from the mitzvah of Krias Shema since he was osek b’mitzvah (involved in a mitzvah) of kibud av (honoring one’s father).
The Brisker Rav explains that the time to recite Shema had already begun and Yosef had already recited Krias Shema. Yaakov had not yet recited Shema, since until this point he was osek b’mitzvah of following the commandment of Hashem to descend to Mitzrayim. At this moment he had just arrived in Mitzrayim, and thus he was now obligated to recite Shema – which he did. While he was still reciting the Shema, Yosef approached.
Reb Yehoshua Leib Diskin suggests that throughout all the years that Yaakov and Yosef were separated, Yaakov was unable to have complete kavanah while reciting the words in Krias Shema, “u’vechal nafshecha” (which mean that one must be willing to sacrifice his own life for Hashem). This was because Yaakov knew that he was promised that he would have 12 sons that would all be shevatim. Since one was missing, he was unable to wholeheartedly say that he would give up his life while still not yet fully complete. Now that he sees that all of his sons are alive, he could once again recite those words with total sincerity. Therefore Yaakov recited Shema at the moment that he met Yosef.
With this explanation Reb Yehoshua Leib answers another question. In the very next pasuk Yaakov exclaims “amusah hapa’am – now I can die.” The Gemara, in Berachos 19, says that one should not open his mouth to the satan. In other words, do not make statements that invite trouble. Why would Yaakov make this strange statement? Reb Yehoshua Leib says that Yaakov was explaining why he recited Krias Shema at this point: because he could now have complete kavanah, and if it were necessary he would wholeheartedly give up his life for Hashem.
For questions or comments, e-mail RabbiRFuchs@gmail.com.
About the Author: For questions or comments, e-mail RabbiRFuchs@gmail.com.
If you don't see your comment after publishing it, refresh the page.
Comments are closed.
Outside of the High Holidays, Pesach is probably the most celebrated biblical holiday for the majority of Jews.
“If I notify people, nobody will buy the matzos!” exclaimed Mr. Mandel. “Once the halachic advisory panel ruled leniently, why can’t I sell the matzos regularly?”
Her Children, Her Whim
‘Kesubas Bnin Dichrin’
Question: Must one spend great sums of money and invest much effort in making one’s home kosher for Passover? Not all of us have such unlimited funds.
Yachatz is not mentioned in the Gemara. What is the foundation for yachatz?
First, the punishment for eating chametz on Pesach is karet, premature death at the Hand of God.
Why is it necessary to invite people to eat from the korban Pesach?
How was I going to get to Manhattan? No cabs were going, we didn’t have a car, and many people who did have cars had no gas.
Did you ever notice that immediately upon being granted our freedom from Egypt, the Jewish people accepted upon themselves the yoke of a new master – Hashem?
Why does Torah make the priests go through a long and seemingly bizarre induction ceremony?
Often people in important positions separate from everyday people & tasks-NOT the Kohen Gadol
You smuggled tefillin into the camp? How can they help? Every day men risked their lives to use them
Rambam: Eating blood’s forbidden because connected to idolatry;Ramban: We’re affected by what we eat
Why is it necessary to invite people to eat from the korban Pesach?
The Chasam Sofer answers that one of only prohibited from wearing a garment that contains shatnez if he does so while wearing the garment for pleasure purposes.
The Aruch Laner asks: How can Rashi say that the third Beis Hamikdash will descend as fire from heaven when every Jew prays several times a day for the rebuilding of the Beis Hamikdash?
The Ohr Hachayim rules that one may not manipulate the system; rather he must state his opinion as he see the ruling in the case; not as he would like the outcome of the verdict to become.
He suggests that the general admonition only dictates that a father may not actively enable his son to perform an aveirah.
Rather than submit to this fate and suffer torture and humiliation, Shaul decided to fall on his sword.
Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/judaism/parsha/why-was-yaakov-avinu-reciting-krias-shema/2011/12/29/
Scan this QR code to visit this page online: