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  • Rav Moshe Weiss

Nahar U'Pashtei Parshas Vayichi

Daas Torah

Parshas Vayechi begins in the sefer Torah in a most unusual fashion. In most cases, when a parshah concludes, a designated space is left in the sefer Torah to separate between it and the new parshah. Our Parshah, however, begins with no spacing, and starts immediately after Parshas Vayigash. This is know as a parshah setumah, Rashi explains that the reason for this here is to allude to how the eyes and hearts of Klal Yisroel were “closed up” because of the Egyptian slavery. What is puzzling here is that the servitude in Egypt would not begin until after the death of Levi, many years later! At the time of Yaakov’s passing, not a single one of the shevatim had died yet! Furthermore, if the intent here is that Yaakov was to die soon, thus ending the era that was, and ushering in a new one of pain and servitude, this would not happen for several years either - for the parshah opens with Yaakov living for seventeen years in Mitzrayim. What is the depth behind the Torah’s choosing to begin Parshas Vayechi with this symbolism of coming troubles? The answer is that we must remember the lessons taught at the end of Parshas Vayigash. Yaakov and Yosef were trying desperately to settle Klal Yisrael in Egypt with safeguards that would keep them ensconced in their holy lifestyle. They sent Yehudah to establish a Yeshivah, and they settled the nation away from the Egyptian metropolis, in the suburban Goshen. But Pharoah had other plans. He gave the brothers and their families vacation estates in the main cities, and offered them all of the amenities that came with such luxurious living. The Torah ends off the previous Parshah stating that Pharoah’s scheme had indeed proven effective, and the roots of assimilation had been sown. Now, in Vayechi, we will go through the motions of losing our guide and teacher, the pillar that was Yaakov Aveinu, as well as all of the shevatim; but the battle had already been lost. The descent that would bring Klal Yisroel to the brink was already underway. We must understand that no one was forcing us to assimilate, initially. They gave us freedoms, and they gave us liberties. Pharoah wanted the Jews to take over the economy, to run the country, and grow his power. And therein lied the danger. As Klal Yisroel became more successful and integrated into Egyptian society, the influences were too strong to overcome. They became Jewish Egyptians, instead of Egyptian Jews; their values became skewed and adulterated. The same battle is raging in America in our times. People can take the golden opportunities presented by the medinah shel chessed, and work to a position of affluence. Then they can chas v’Sholom forget their Torah values, and instead allow their views to be governed by the morals of the people around them. This is a grave mistake. What use is money and affluence, if it costs a person their Torah integrity? A gut Shabbos! A Project of the YSI Alumni Association Written by R’ Moshe Weiss

Nahar U_Pashtei Parshas Vayichi 5781
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