This D’var Torah should be a Zechus L’Ilui Nishmas my sister, Kayla Rus Bas Bunim Tuvia A”H, my maternal grandfather Dovid Tzvi Ben Yosef Yochanan A”H, my maternal grandfather Dovid Tzvi Ben Yosef Yochanan A”H, my paternal grandfather Moshe Ben Yosef A”H, my uncle Reuven Nachum Ben Moshe & my great aunt Rivkah Sorah Bas Zev Yehuda HaKohein.
It should also be in Zechus L’Refuah Shileimah for:
-My father Bunim Tuvia Ben Channa Freidel
-My grandmothers Channah Freidel Bas Sarah, and Shulamis Bas Etta
-MY BROTHER: MENACHEM MENDEL SHLOMO BEN CHAYA ROCHEL
-Mordechai Shlomo Ben Sarah Tili
-Noam Shmuel Ben Simcha
-Chaya Rochel Ettel Bas Shulamis
-And all of the Cholei Yisrael, especially those suffering from COVID-19 and the Meiron tragedy.
-It should also be a Z’chus for an Aliyah of the holy Neshamos of Dovid Avraham Ben Chiya Kehas—R’ Dovid Winiarz ZT”L, Miriam Liba Bas Aharon—Rebbetzin Weiss A”H, as well as the Neshamos of those whose lives were taken by terrorists (Hashem Yikom Damam), COVID-19, and the Meiron tragedy.
-It should also be a Z’chus for success for Tzaha”l as well as the rest of Am Yisrael, in Eretz Yisrael and in the Galus.
לע”נ שמואל מנחם בן אריה לייב
לע”נ לאה בת אברהם
לע”נ יהודה חסדא יקיר בן הרב שלמה
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Parsha Paradise/פרשה פרדס – Vayigash: And the Land Grabbed Them ???
Vayigash begins with high tension and explodes into the emotional reunion between Yosef and his family. But, from then on, there is not so much excitement to the Parsha. Everyone just gathers in Egypt. The temperature lowers… or so it seems. It’s kind of quiet, but perhaps too quiet.
Consider how excited Yaakov appeared to be just before meeting Yosef again, and yet Hashem reassured (or better yet “cautioned”) him, “Al Tira,” “Do not fear” [Bereishis 46:3]. Rashi indicates that Yaakov was anxious for a particular reason.
We will investigate the the last verse in the Parshas Vayigash [Bereishis 47:27] through the aid of Pardeis to understand the ominous end of Sefer Bereishis.
There, the Torah writes:
“וַיֵּ֧שֶׁב יִשְׂרָאֵ֛ל בְּאֶ֥רֶץ מִצְרַ֖יִם בְּאֶ֣רֶץ גּ֑שֶׁן וַיֵּאָֽחֲז֣וּ בָ֔הּ וַיִּפְר֥וּ וַיִּרְבּ֖וּ מְאֹֽד”
“And Yisrael settled in the Land of Egypt in the land of Goshen and they took holdings in it, and they were fruitful and multiplied exceedingly.”
Again, the verse itself is quite innocent. However, the information is somewhat excessive. The Torah recorded earlier that Yosef provided living property for his family or “holdings” in the land [Ibid. 47:11] (“Vayitein Lahem Achuzah”). And yet, we’re told seemingly again here, “Vayei’achazu Bah,” that they took holdings in the land, making acquisition of it (Ibn Ezra). Why is this point seemingly repeated?
Perhaps it is repeated because this detail in the story is significant.
Radak explains that in fact, this verse implies that the B’nei Yisrael acquired new lands in addition to the land that Yosef had provided them. Why are the acquisitions of land, or the extra acquisitions of land worth our attention?
The holdings in the land have to be understood in context. Chazal have noted some red flags in this seemingly innocent verse, which emerge from a blend of textual allusion (Remez) and closer reading (Drash).
Da’as Zikeinim and Torah Temimah both point out that the opening phrase “Vayeishev Yisrael”-“And Yisrael settled” is packed with negative overtone, citing several other instances proving that “Vayeishev” is a Lashon of impending Tza’ar, or distress [Sanhedrin 106A].
What can be wrong with settling down? That word should be a signal of permission to relax and rest assured. But, last time Yaakov Avinu wanted to relax, his son was sold as a slave. Would that same word be an allusion to the same fate in his future offspring? Might it have been a mistake to settle down and acquire more of holding in the land? “Vayeishev,” the attempt to settle down, is ironically unsettling. It projects impending hardship.
Along similar lines, in another layer of Drash, various M’forshim and Midrashim¹ pick up on the Nekudos (vowelization) in the phrase “Vayei’achazu Bah,” which thus far, we have translated as, “and they took holdings in it.”
While this translation may be appropriate to explain Pashut P’shat, the vowelization suggests that the word is in presented in the passive-receptive form (Nif’al) so that the word should be read, “and they were held in it.”
In other words, when they settled down, took more holdings in the land, and got too comfortable, they themselves were grabbed and seized by that land. They were trapped in what would soon become their house of bondage.
(¹See Otzar Midrashim citing Baraisa of Rebbi Pinchas Ben Ya’ir 1:24, Bircas Asher citing Midrash Tadshei, and Rabbeinu Bachya.)
Despite all of the above, it wasn’t all bad. From the dimension of Sod, Kedushas Levi presents the following silver lining:
Typically, when a Tzaddik is forced to dwell among the Klipos (lit., shells) or the spiritually dark forces of the world (e.g. among pagans), he is at risk of being confounded by “foreign” philosophies and values. If he is corrupted by them, his love and awe for Hashem could be replaced with love and awe for these alien ideas and forces. One safe line of defense is to completely reject them.
However, Kedushas Levi explains that our Pasuk is suggestive of a more risky but more powerful tactic, namely to actually embrace those “Machshavos” or concepts (for the intrinsic value they have), reapply them in the direction of Ahavas Hashem and Yiras Hashem, and produce spiritual fruits from them. It is in this vein, Kedushas Levi explains, that our verse should be understood. “Vayei’achazu Bah Vayifru Vayirbu Me’od,” that the B’nei Yisrael took hold of and embraced the Machshavos of Mitzrayim and thereby produced holy fruits with which to serve Hashem.
While, indeed, there is what to fear in Galus, at the end of the day, Hashem encouraged Yaakov, “Al Tira,” perhaps because, if we keep Hashem with us in Galus, we can be sure to be fruitful and succeed there until eventually, Hashem ascends with us from that Galus.
We should be Zocheh to not have to settle in Galus, make the very best of it while we sojourn there, and ascend from it with the Shechinah and the arrival of Moshiach, Bimheirah BiYomeinu! Have a Great Shabbos!
-Yehoshua Shmuel Eisenberg