Thursday, December 24, 2015

Thursday's Parsha Tidbits - Parshas Vayechi

The following is a brief summary of some 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 47:29, the Torah writes that Ya'akov knew that he was nearing death and that he called his children to him and asked that he not be buried in Egypt.

Rashi explains that we learn from this pasuk the concept of Chessed Shel Emes - that in burying the dead, a person performs an act of kindness which is true chessed in that it is one way and cannot be repaid.

Rabbi Frand then asked a question based on a pasuk later in the parsha (Bereishis 48:22) where it states Ya'akov told Yosef that he was giving him Shechem Achad Al Achecha. Rashi explains that Ya'akov told Yosef that he was giving him the City of Shechem because Yosef took on the role of being involved with the burial Ya'akov.

But then how is this Chessed Shel Emes, if he received a reward?

R' Frand added to the question by quoting a Gemara in Kesuvos which states that if a man takes on the role of burying others, he will be zocheh that others will bury him.

So again, how is the burial of the dead a Chessed Shel Emes?

R' Frand answered that in general if a person does a favor for another person, the recipient feels a need to reciprocate. Additionally, the person doing the chessed may feel that the person who received the good deed, "owes him one", even if he does not express it. 

However, when a person buries the dead there is no such feeling. The living person does not think that the deceased "owes him one" or that there ever will be a possibly that the deceased will repay him. Thus it is a true chessed.

R' Frand's second vort related to the pasuk in Bereishis 48:1, where Yosef is told that his father was sick. The reason for the notification was that this was not just an illness as Ya'akov was dying and Yosef was being given an opportunity to pay one last visit with his children.

The Da'as Zikeinim M'Baalei Tosfos (DZMT) states that Yosef had not visited Ya'akov during the entire seventeen year period that Ya'akov was living in Egypt. 

But why would Yosef stay away from his father, after they had been involuntarily separated for so many years? The DZMT explains that Yosef was afraid that his father would ask him - what happened? How did you wind up in Egypt? And Yosef did not want to tell his father about his brothers' misdeeds. 

R' Frand asked - but why couldn't Yosef lie to Ya'akov for the sake of Shalom Bayis? Couldn't he have told him that he was kidnapped or some other half truth which would not have revealed his brothers' involvement?

R' Frand posed an answer and then invited the audience to discuss it at their Shabbos tables and see if they came up with a better answer. He explained that since Ya'akov was known for the middah of emes - truthfulness - Yosef could not bring himself to lie to him.

R' Frand also had a third vort on the parsha which if I have time tomorrow I may attempt to summarize it iyh.

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