Parshat Va'yechi - Yaakov Lived
“My dearest brothers and sisters
I bring you regards from the holy city, Yerushalayim” –Reb Shlomo zt”l.
In the midst of all the terror and anti-Jewish anti-Israel activity Remember- Va’yechi Yaakov – Yaakov Avinu lived!!! We Jews live connected to our real and only source of life – Hashem, Hakadosh baruch Hu.
Hashem we need and we want the ‘geulah shleimah’ NOW. We believe in it and we really want to see and be in it NOW. Send us Your Moshiach NOW!
Parshat Va’yechi, the last parsha of sefer Bereishit, parallels the opening parsha- Bereishit. Parshat Bereishit begins with the glorious Creation, with Adam and Chava in the Garden of Eden. But soon they are expelled from the blissful garden into a world of greater concealment- the ‘world of separation’, ‘the world of lies’. Now it is our task to find Hashem’s light in the darkness.
Even before the creation of Adam and Chava there is already a diminution of light when the moon, which initially was a ‘great light’ becomes ‘the small light’. And even before this, what happened to the light which Hashem created on the very first day of Creation? Our Rabbis z”l teach us that Hashem hid this light. The אור הגנוז, the ‘Ohr Haganuz’ – the hidden Light. Again and again, throughout sefer Bereishis we are filled with joy and we are broken, we fall and we get up to come closer and to find more of Hashem's light.
Similarly in parshat Va’yechi. Yaakov Avinu is reunited with Yosef and the family is whole again. Yaakov Avinu had seventeen ‘good years’ in Mitzrayim. But when the famine ended we did return to our Promised Land, we remained in Mitzrayim and we are about to go into a deep and horrifying exile and enslavement. BUT…
What you have to know all the time, every day of your life, is ויחי that this parsha is named Va’yechi – He lived. Yaakov Avinu ‘lived’ there. He taught us how to ‘live’ even in the darkness.
Wherever Hashem puts us, we continue to seek and search for the Ohr Haganuz – the Hidden Light – we are here to make this world, His dwelling place. And where do we find it? Where did Hashem hide the light? It is hidden in the Torah!
כִּי-עִמְּךָ, מְקוֹר חַיִּים, בְּאוֹרְךָ, נִרְאֶה-אוֹר
For with Thee is the fountain of life; in Thy light do we see light. [Ps. 36:10]
Our enslavement in Mitzrayim began ever so subtly; well before it turned into open brutality. It is so easy to be drawn away from truly living our lives as we are meant to; before you know it, you are already somewhat enslaved. And so it is not at all surprising that so many commentaries are looking for the Torah’s lessons on learning how to not get trapped in your Mitzrayim – narrows and on how to live a real Jewish life even in the darkest of exiles.
Right at the opening of the parsha Rashi tells us that the exile began soon after Yaakov Avinu’s departure from this world “the eyes and hearts of Israel were 'closed' because of the misery of the bondage, for they [the Egyptians then] began to subjugate them.”
Though the actual harsh physical enslavement began only after the last of the twelve sons of Yaakov passed away, the exile and enslavement started with our eyes and hearts being closed. We need to think about that.
Reb Shlomo zt”l said, if the words and letters of the Torah are not shining into your heart and soul, you are in exile. The light is there ready to connect with and illuminate my soul – but my eyes and heart need to be open! The Ishbitzer Rebbe teaches that the exile begins by not judging another favorably:
daaven and keep on daavening
to always see the good in another
to always judge positively
daaven for others to see
the good in you
to judge you positively
daaven and keep on daavening
to see the good in yourself too
Do this with joy and you will see the good in another, you will find the good in yourself and you will find the Hidden Light in the Torah. And we will dance with joy. Keep your ‘yid’ alive and find the Ohr Ganuz.
Va’yechi is full of secrets- the secrets of connecting and living with Hashem’s light. May we all be blessed with success and love
Have a wonderful Shabbos b’ahavah ubivracha
Reb Shlomo's Torah
The End of the Beginning
There is always a little space between every portion in the Torah. So Rashi explains (Bereishis 47:28) that between the parshas of Vayigash and Vayechi there is no space, because when Ya'akov died suddenly there was no space left in the world.
I want to tell you something very deep. Why is there always a space between one portion and the other? The space is there in order for people to think. You end one portion, think a little bit, and then something new happens.
But when it comes to the portion of the beginning of the exile, there is nothing to think about, because the exile is beyond everybody's thinking about it. There is nothing to feel about it, nothing to think about it because we don't understand it. We don't know what it is. Even deeper, do you know what exile means? Exile means that I've stopped thinking and stopped feeling. When I'm not in exile I feel everything that I am learning. Exile learning is when I am reading the portion but I don't think and I don't feel. Let's say, for instance that I eat food and yet I'm still hungry. This is exile eating, because my eating doesn't help. So since the beginning of the exile is when Yaakov came down to Egypt in this parsha, there is nothing to think and nothing to feel.
Forgetting and Remembering
Now open your hearts, friends. There are certain things in life which I have to forget. It's better for me to forget these things, but this is only before I fix myself. After I fix myself, I have no right to forget anything, because I look back and realize that everything I did wrong was part of this great fixing. So how could I forget it?
Imagine someone hurt my feelings and I say, "I forgive you, I've already forgotten all about it." But it's only forgotten because we are still in the middle. We are all in the middle, absolutely in the middle. First of all, we were not born yesterday, so we are in the middle of our lives. We are also not here for the first time, so we are in the middle of our incarnations. Sometimes we forget this; sometimes we think that whatever we do now, that is all there is to it. But we're only in the middle, on the way to the end. And on the level of the end, I can't forget what happened with the person who hurt me, since maybe because of that we became better friends. So I have to remember.
When someone says, "I've forgotten everything I did wrong in my life," it's very beautiful. While we are fixing ourselves, while we are trying to get better, it's vetting not to think about what we did wrong - because otherwise it will tear us apart. But after that , at the end, we have to remember everything. So the way to fix ourselves is that first we have to forget, and then we have to remember again.
I want to share something way out with you. When we daven Musaf on Rosh Hashonna we say, "ki zocher kol hanishkachos Ata," G-d, You remember everything which is forgotten. Obviously G-d remember everything, and this sentence has maybe million of meanings. But for the moment I want to translate it this way:
Ki zocher kol hanishkachos Ata - when you really stand before G-d, then you remember all the things you were suppose to forget. There were so many things you have to forget while you were on your way to, so to speak, get to G-d. Then, when you mamesh stand before Him, you remember everything. Nothing can be forgotten, how could it be forgotten? It happened to you, it happened in the world, inn G-d's world... how could you forget?
And here we get the portion of the week where we ar elearning about Yosef's two songs, Menashe and Ephraim. Menashe comes from the phrase "ki nashani Elokim es kol amali" (Bereishis 41:51), G-d gave me strength to forget all my troubles. Ephraim comes form the word "ki hifrani Elokim be'ertz onyyi" (41:52), G-d gave me strength to become more and more, even in light of my pain.
So Yaakob was ready to bless Yosef's two sons. Yosef told Menashe, who was the firstborn, to stand on his father's right side - and Ephraim, the second one, to stand on his left side. And Yaakov didn't say "no." He said, "It's okay, he is the firstborn and has to stand on my right side." Then Yaakov crossed his hands. He put his right hand on Ephraim and his left hand on Menashe. Yaakov Avinu did not say, "I am putting my right hand on Ephraim despite the fact that Menashe is the bechor." He said, "I am putting my right hand on my Ephraim because Menashe is the firstborn." What I've just told you is what the Ishbitzer says; now I want to tell you what I most humbly think...
You see what it is, the first thing is that you really have to forget everything you did wrong. Menashe, whose name is from the word "nashani," forgetting, was the firstborn. He was a hundred percent the first step. Yaakov said, "I am not denying it, but I want to start all over again from the beginning."
Do you see what is going on here? Before Yaakov Avinu passed away, he connected us to the end, to the level of the end.
It's true, at the beginning Menashe was very important - first you have to forget. And if you begin to remember before the end, it's mamesh not good. You have to forget while you're at the beginning or in the middle. But then you come to the end, and this is the level of Ephraim. Ephraim was mamesh the top man for the end. When you come to the end, you have to remember everything on the level of Ephraim. But ahh, this is a different kind of remembering.
Just to say it in a very way out way - although we are not on the level yet - imagine you tell a Yiddele who came out of Auschwitz, "If you walk around thinking all day about Auschwitz, you won't be able to bear it. You have to forget it a little bit." It's heartbreaking - how can you utter such words? It's even blasphemy to say it, but otherwise a person can't keep on living. This Yiddele has to forget it a little bit, But on the other hand, how can he forget it? He is mamesh not permitted to forget it. But on the level of the end, you can;t forget anything - nothing... nothing, nothing.
Let me tell you something very deep. When you love somebody a little bit, you can talk to him or her about what happened before, at the beginning. But if you love someone with all your heart, you can talk about the end. Sometimes you meet somebody you love very much. You tell her your life story, but you omit everything you did wrong. I am not knocking it, sometimes that's also good. But sometimes you meet somebody whom you love so much that you can also hare everything you did wrong. So what is the difference? The answer is like this. When you love somebody on the level of the beginning, you have to forget what you did wrong. You just tell her all the good you did in your life. But when you love somebody so much that you are connected to her on the level of the end, you can't forget anything.
Parshat Va'Yechi: Teachings From Previous Years
▪ Friendship & Shabbos: Chizuk for the End of Days
▪ Shema Yisrael
▪ The "Closed" Parsha
▪ Secrets of Jewish Living
▪ The Greatness of Rachel Imeinu – Our Mother Rachel
Friendship & Shabbos: Chizuk for the End of Days
In the sefer Neir Yisrael [ - the Light of Yisrael- a collection of teachings from the holy Reb Yisrael of Rizhin and also of his descendants zt"l] it is related that one of his very important Chassidim asked the Rebbe of Rizhin to please tell him some words of 'chizuk' – words that will always give him the strength to be steadfast in his faith and service of Hashem.
The Rebbe told him: Know that before the arrival of Moshiach, the faith and the religion will be hanging on a thin hair (it will be very easy to lose one's faith). The advice with which to overcome these difficult times is for friends to 'get together' every Shabbos to relate and to listen to stories of the righteous tzaddikim – this will serve to strengthen the religion and our faith.
This is the advice that Yaakov Avinu alluded to his children – when you will be at the End of Days, in the times just before the arrival of Moshiach, the will be a great cold in matters of faith. The remedy is to gather together on Shabbos, in brotherhoods of friendship and unity, and to talk about matters of faith in Hashem and His servant Moshe.
The Rebbe concluded his words of advice to the chassid, saying, 'I am setting three conditions upon you: א) You must remember my words. ב) You are to fulfil my words. ג) You are to relate this message to the entire community of Chassidim.'
Screenshot - Shema Yisrael - Hebrew
According to the Midrash the first ones to have ever said Shma Yisrael Hashem Elokeinu Hashem Echad, were Yaakov's 12 sons. As they stood around his bed moments before Yaakov Avinu returned his soul to Hashem, they proclaimed: Shma Yisrael - Hear our father, Yisrael, Hashem is our G-d, Hashem is One, the only one, there is no other!
Yakov Avinu wanted to hear from his children if they were truly united. Would they be united in hard times as well as in good times? Would they be united in good times