Thursday, December 27, 2012

Thursday's Parsha Tidbits - Parshas Vayechi

The following is a brief summary of thoughts said over by R' Frand on the parsha this evening. I have attempted to reproduce these vorts to the best of my ability. Any perceived inconsistency is the result of my efforts to transcribe the shiur and should not be attributed to R' Frand.
In Bereishis 47:31 it is written that Yaakov knew that he was about to die and he called Yosef and asked him to come to his bed. Once Yosef arrived, Yaakov made Yosef promise that Yaakov would not be buried thereafter. Once Yosef agreed, the pasuk states that Yaakov got up and bowed to the head of the bed. Rashi learns from here that the Shechina is above the bed of a sick person. Even though Yaakov was weak, he bowed to honor the Shechina.
R' Frand quoted a sefer called Tiv HaTorah who asks - why is the Shechina on top of the bed of a sick person. He theorizes that when a person is sick he may take the attitude that Hashem has abandoned or hates him. However, the real reason that the person is sick is because Hashem feels that a person needs to go through this. This is the reason that Hashem is at the bedside - to let the person know, it is from Hashem and Hashem is there for the person.
The sefer Tiv HaTorah quoted a story involving R' Tzvi Kowalsy, who R' Frand said that he knew personally because he was the nephew of a fundraiser for Ner Yisrael called R' Chaim Nachman Kowalsky. When he was sick, people would come visit him and gave him kvitlach which he would put on top of his bed. He would put these kvitlach there because the Shechina was always present. The man did not feel that Hashem had abandoned him.
The second vort that R' Frand said related to Yaakov's exchange with Yosef wherein Yaakov says that he never thought that he would see Yosef again and now he sees Yosef's children. R' Frand asked - Yaakov came down to Egypt seventeen years before Yosef appeared at his bedside with Menashe and Ephraim. Yaakov had been living in Egypt for the last seventeen years and had obviously seen Yosef and his sons quite often. So why does Yaakov pick this time to say- I never thought I would see you again and now I even see your children?
R' Frand answered that people tend to forget events in their lives. We may have anniversaries that remind us of our weddings or the birth of a child or marrying off a child, but these become "old news." The pasuk tells this about Yaakov because every day Yaakov remembered that he never thought that he would see Yosef again and was so happy to see Yosef again.
The third vort said by R' Frand was given over in the name of R'Shmuel Birnbaum who was the former Rosh Yeshiva of the Mir in Brooklyn. R' Frand related that although the brochos given in the parsha may not all seem like typical brochos, they were in fact blessings as it is a great brocha to point out someone's strengths and weaknesses so that he knows what to work on the future. This can be seen in the brocha to Levi, where Yaakov points out Levi's trait of zealousness which Levi then develops and serves the Jews well at the Golden Calf. R' Frand pointed out other positive brochos before stopping at the blessing to Yosef.
In Bereishis 49:22-23, Yaakov calls Yosef a "charming child." However Yosef is also called gorgeous, to the point that Egyptian girls would climb the walls of the palace to catch a glimpse of Yosef. This is abnormal as the positive attributes of a person do not generally include statements about him being "drop dead gorgeous." The Torah then continues (and as interpreted by Rashi) the Torah states that Yosef's brothers hated him and spoke with sharp tongues about him. But how is this a brocha?
R' Birnbaum stated that people gravitate towards those who love them and value them and speak nicely about them. People tend to avoid those who speak harshly to then and clearly do not value them. Sometimes a child will leave his home or his peers because he feels that he is not valued, but people who live on the street love him. This is the brocha and strength of Yosef. Yosef knew that his brothers hated him and sold him down to Egypt. Yosef came to Egypt and the girls swooned over him. He could have tossed his identity away and followed the Egyptian girls. But Yosef remained steadfast to his religion. This is strength of character, the same strength he had to resist the wife of Potiphar when he was 17 years old. This is what Yaakov was recognizing in the brocha.
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