Parshat Vayechi 5776: Yosef”s Oath to Yaakov, and Our Times

Shalom Friends;

This week, our Parshat HaShevua — Parshat Vayechi is being sponsored by Dr. Ari and Rivka Stern and dedicated for Mazel Tov on the upcoming marriage of their son Yisrael Zev to Chaya Bracha Shapiro. To Mishpochat Stern, many thanks for your sponsorship and for your continued kindnesses.

You can celebrate a Simcha — a birth, a Bar/Bat Mitzvah, a Chassuna or other Simcha event in your life, or commemorate a Yahrtzeit of a loved one, or for whatever other reason by sponsoring a Parshat HaShevua.

Please forward to your relatives and friends and encourage them to sponsor a Parshat HaShevua. And please be in contact with me with any questions, or for further details.

Best Regards,

Moshe Burt
skype: mark.burt3

Parshat Vayechi 5776: Yosef”s Oath to Yaakov, and Our Times

by Moshe Burt

In the second posuk of our Parshat, Yaakov expresses concern lest he be buried in Egypt (The Sapirstein Edition: “The Torah with Rashi’s Commentary”, renders Sefer Breish’t, Perek 47, posukim 29-31, page 522):

“The time approached for Yaakov to die, so he called for… Yosef, and said to him, ‘Please, if I have found favor in your eyes, please place your hand under my thigh and do kindness and truth with me — please do not bury me in Egypt. And I will lie down with my fathers and you shall transport me out of Egypt and bury me in their grave.’

He [Yosef] said, ‘I will do in accordance with your words.’

He [Yaakov] said, ‘Swear to me,’ and he [Yosef] swore to him…”

We learn, near the end of our Parshat, Yaakov’s instructions to his sons regarding: ” I will lie down with my fathers”. “The Torah with Rashi’s Commentary”, renders Sefer Breish’t, Perek 49, posukim 29-31):

“…He [Yaakov] said to them, ‘I shall be brought in to my people; bury me with my fathers in the cave that is in the field of Ephron the Hittite, in the cave that is in the field of Machpela, which faces Mamre, in the land of Canaan, which Avraham bought… from Ephron the Hittite as a burial estate…

Note: Yaakov’s burial place is in Hevron’s Ma’arot HaMachpela where Leah as well as Avraham and Sarah and Yitzchak and Rivka are buried.

Rabbi Henach Leibowitz, in his sefer, “Majesty of Man” (pages 103-104) cites the Ramban:

The Ramban asks why Yaakov insisted that Yosef swear…. His favorite son already promised to fulfill his father’s last request.

Furthermore, when Yaakov asked Yosef, many years before, to find the brothers, Yosef obeyed though he knew he was putting himself in mortal danger. Was there any shadow of a doubt that Yosef would do everything in his power to fulfill his father’s dying wish? Why did Yaakov find it necessary to require an oath?

The Ramban offers an answer: If Pharaoh would forbid the burial in Israel, the oath that bound Yosef would give him the extra strength to defy Pharaoh. We can deduce, therefore, that if Yosef was not made to swear, he… would not have found within him the fortitude required to oppose Pharaoh. The act of taking an oath gave him that added energy. This explanation gives… a glimpse of the tremendous ability of man and the the heights he is capable of reaching when he fully understands the responsibility upon him for a given task…. All one needs is the additional motivation, the extra push to mobilize all of one’s energies, to make what was previously inconceivable, believable, what was thought impossible, achievable.

As we consider Parshat Vayechi, we view the myriad of crises we currently face: Israeli governmental equivocation in face of the 100 Year War of recurrent murderous Islamic terror with its stabbings, shootings, bombings, drive-by, drive-into, green lazer attacks blinding drivers, etc., governmental revision of the “status-quo” to all but eliminate numbers of Jews ascending Our Holy Temple Mount, governmental threat to usurp the upbringing of (observant) children to conform to their [socialist government] secular “moral” standard, political division, rivalry and discord across all sectors, poverty faced by many, sickness — the petrified fear of a single person needing hospitalization in Israel with no one to watch their back or advocate for them before a seemingly insensitive, unfeeling, uncaring medical system, as well as non-existent “law and order” administered by a police, internal security ministry and “justice (sic)” system — all seemingly with an agenda geared toward arresting, prosecuting and persecuting Jews who love their spirituality, Torah morality and Eretz Yisrael [Our Land] — we could go on and on. The Divine requisite of true Torah-based government, where our leaders voice solemn oath before Hashem to serve as Torah-true examples for kol Am Yisrael to emulate, is more than obvious to those not blinded by the lust of political self-interest and self-disdain, lest our times be a “closed parshat” without soul, heart and verbal circuit connection.

May we, the B’nai Yisrael be zocha that our brethren — the refugee families from Gush Katif be permanently settled and be made totally whole — be totally restituted for all that was stolen from them at leftist-agendized, supreme court legalized gunpoint, that our dear brother Jonathan Pollard be truly free — upon his return home to Israel, and that Sholom Rubashkin, as well as the other MIAs be liberated alive and returned to us in ways befitting Al Kiddush Hashem, as should the remains of the two chayalim from the Gaza War of 1 1/2 years ago. May we have the courage and strength to stand up and physically prevent the possibility of Chas V’Challila any future eviction of Jews from their homes and the handing of Jewish land over to anyone, let alone to enemies sworn to Israel’s and Judaism’s destruction and eradication. May we fulfill Hashem’s blueprint of B’nai Yisrael as a Unique people — an Am Segula, not to be reckoned with as with “the nations” and may we be zocha to see the Moshiach, the Ge’ula Shlaima, as Dov Shurin sings; “Ki Karov Yom Hashem Al’Kol HaGoyim”, the Ultimate Redemption, bimhayrah b’yamainu — speedily, in our time”, — Achshav, Chik Chuk, Miyad, Etmol!!!

Good Shabbos!
Moshe Burt, an Oleh, is a commentator on news and events in Israel and Founder and Director of The Sefer Torah Recycling Network. He lives in Ramat Beit Shemesh.

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