Vayechi Torah portion


Yaakov lived in the land of Mitzrayim seventeen years; and the days of Yaakov—the years of his life…
Rashi (ibid.) quotes the Midrash (Midrash Rabba 96:1) that asks why this parshah does not have a space between it and the previous parshah. The Midrash (in its alternate explanation) answers that Yaakov wanted to reveal the End of Days for his offspring but Heaven concealed it from him.
Why was this momentous revelation blocked from him? Why wasn’t he allowed to disclose it?
When Yaakov was about to reveal the End of Days he saw that bnei Yisroel would live in galus (exile) for an extended period of time. This made him sad. The Gemora (Pesochim 117a) teaches that the Shechinah (Divine Presence) cannot dwell on a person when he is sad. Since Yaakov was sad about what he saw, the revelation of the End of Days was concealed from him.

(Rebbe Naftuli of Ropshitz zy’a-Zear Kodesh)

The time approached for Yisroel to die, so he called for his son, for Yosef, and said to him.
Why is it necessary to write the redundant language “his son” and also “Yosef?”
“His son” or only “Yosef” would tell us exactly who is being referred to?
The Ohr haChaim Hakodosh explains as follows: Since Yosef was Mitzrayim’s viceroy, second to Pharaoh himself, how could Yaakov ask him to come to him? On the contrary, Yaakov, was a mere commoner, and protocol would call for him to come to the viceroy?
To answer this question the Torah writes, “his son Yosef,” both “his son” and “Yosef.” For these two reasons Yaakov felt he could ask Yosef to come to him: The first was “his son”—because Yosef was his son and a father is allowed to call his son to him. Furthermore, “Yosef”—since he was Yosef the Tzaddik he would surely waive the honor that he deserves as viceroy. (The Gemora that writes that a king is not allowed to waive his honor refers only to a Jewish king ruling over Jews).

And may they proliferate (vayidgu) abundantly like fish within the land.
Rashi (ibid.) explains vayidgu, means that bnei Yisroel should multiply like fish (dagim) that are not prey to the evil eye. How can one say fish proliferate “within the land ”? Fish live in water and when on land they perish within a short time?
The survival of klal Yisroel, throughout history while many mighty nations were eradicated, is supernatural. The Torah tells us that even when bnei Yisroel are on the land they are still compared to fish and will survive.

(Chasam Sofer)

Assemble yourselves and I will tell you what wiill befall you in the End of Days.
Rebbe Yehonoson Eibshitz zy’a explained: The brothers were exiled to Mitzrayim because they hated their brother. Therefore Yaakov told them, “Assemble yourselves and I will tell to you what will befall you in the End of Days”—through unity, and true brotherhood, the final redemption will come.
Maran the Sar Sholom of Belz zy’a explained the posuk as follows: On Monday and Thursday after reading the Torah, when tachanun is recited, the chazan recites four different “yehi rotzon” prayers. (May it be the will of our Father Who is in Heaven). In the fifth prayer we say “acheinu beis Yisroel” (Our brothers, the House of Yisroel). Why don’t we continue saying “yehi rotzon” etc. The answer is that when klal Yisroel are united, when they act like brothers, that is the greatest eis rotzon (time of good will) that could possibly be, so there is no need to state “yehi rotzon”

Assemble yourselves and I will tell you what wiill befall you in the End of Days.
Rashi quotes the Midrash that Yaakov wanted to reveal the End of Days but the Shechinah departed from him and he began to speak about other matters.
Rebbe Yisroel of Ruzin zy’a asks why did the Shechinah depart from Yaakov precisely when he wanted to reveal the End of Days?
There are two possible times for the End of Days. “I am Hashem, in its time I will hasten it” (Yeshaya 60:22). “In its time” (be’itoh) or “I will hasten it” (achishenah). When Jews do teshuvah, repent for their sins, Hashem will hasten the arrival of the End of Days and it is achishenah. If, chas vesholom, they remain fixed in their ways the final redemption will only come be’itah, at its set time. Yaakov could only reveal the time of be’itah, and he saw that bnei Yisroel would not be zocheh to do teshuvah. Naturally that saddened him and since Shechinah cannot dwell on someone who is sad, it departed from him.

So they instructed that Yosef be told. Your father gave orders before his death, saying: `Thus shall you say to Yosef: “O please, kindly forgive the spiteful deed of your brothers and their sin…
The commentators ask where do we find that Yaakov instructed his brothers to tell Yosef to forgive his brothers.
Rebbe Meir Shapira, Rosh Yeshiva of Yeshivas Chachmei Lublin and initiator of the Daf HaYomi, answers that Yosef previously told his brothers: “And now, be not distressed, nor reproach yourselves for having sold me here, for it was to be a provider that G-d sent me ahead of you” (45:5). Although you had evil intentions, Hashem made your actions be beneficial, which is why I became viceroy of Mitzrayim. That is why they don’t have to ask his forgiveness.
Later they saw that before Yaakov passed away he said to Yosef, “But as for me, when I came from Padan, Rachel died on me in the land of Canaan on the road.” (48:7). Yaakov apologized to Yosef for not burying his mother Rachel in Eretz Yisroel in the me’oras hamachpeilah, but rather in Beis Lechem. Although this would be beneficial to the Jews in the future when they would go to golus because Rachel will entreat Hashem for her descendants, Yaakov nevertheless asked Yosef’s forgiveness. The brothers learned from this that although something beneficial eventually happens, you need to ask forgiveness for the past. When they said, “Your father gave orders before his death” they meant that we learned from what your father said before he died that we are also commanded to ask your forgiveness.