Friday, January 13, 2017

Dvar Torah for Parshas Vayechi

       In Parshas Vayechi, Yaakov prepares his sons for his impending death. He makes burial arrangements, blesses each one of his sons, and attempts to prepare them for the exile they are about to spend in Mitzrayim. The Meforshim discuss how each of these preparations can be connected to an event far into the future. The Dvar Torah I would like to discuss, however, deals with an event that was taking place at that time.
       When Yaakov realized he was about to die, he called in Yosef and gave him very specific instructions on where to bury him, including, “אַל־נָ֥א תִקְבְּרֵ֖נִי בְּמִצְרָֽיִם“Please do not bury me in Egypt” (Bereishis 47:29). He follows that up with further instructions to be buried in Eretz Yisrael (See 47:30). Rashi gives three reasons as to why Yaakov wanted to be buried in Eretz Yisrael. 1) When the plague of Lice would occur, all the soil in Mitzrayim would be turned into lice and crawl all over his body (a very disrespectful end). 2) When Hashem eventually resurrects the dead, anyone buried outside of Eretz Yisrael will roll through underground tunnels until reaching Eretz Yisrael, which would be painful. 3) He was worried that since he had brought prosperity to Egypt, the Egyptians would make his burial spot into a shrine, turning him into an avodah zarah. Because of these three things, Yaakov wanted to make sure he would not be buried in Mitzrayim and yes to be buried in Eretz Yisrael.
       The Kli Yakar explains why all three explanations are necessary for a complete explanation. The first reason of lice by itself is not enough because Hashem could create many miracles to protect Yaakov’s body. Therefore, he explains that the first and third reasons are really connected. The reason the Egyptians would worship him would be because Hashem would inevitably perform a miracle to protect Yaakov’s body and it would not be touched by the lice while all the other graves would be covered with them. They would believe he possessed a special power that allowed him to remain clean.
       However, these two reasons are not enough by themselves because then Yaakov could be buried anywhere outside of Egypt; why would it be so important that he be buried in Eretz Yisrael? Once we factor in the pain of rolling in the tunnels, we understand why he had to be buried in Eretz Yisrael. But this reason is not enough by itself either since Yaakov specifically mentions that he doesn’t want to be buried in Mitzrayim, instead of simply saying that he wants to be buried in Eretz Yisrael. There must be other reasons why he specifically didn’t want to be in Mitzrayim, which we mentioned above.
Shabbat Shalom!

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