Thursday, December 29, 2011

Vayigash. In Retropect, It Wasn't So Bad

I will post this quickly, and try to come back and fix it up later.  My youngest son's aufruf is this Shabbos, and you'll have to forgive me for being a little hasty.  But it happens to be a good observation.

Rav Solomon, in his Ma'amarim, cites the Medrash  (91:10) that says that Yaakov, the paragon of human spirituality, only once in his life said a ill-considered thing:   

והרעב כבד וגו' ויהי כאשר כלו וגו' ויאמר אליו יהודה וגו' אם ישך משלח וגו' ואם אינך משלח וגו' אמרו לו מה הוא אומר לנו דברים של אמת ואנו משיבים אותו דברים של בטלה ויאמר ישראל למה הרעותם לי וגו' רבי לוי בשם רבי חמא בר חנינא מעולם לא אמר יעקב אבינו דבר של בטלה אלא כך אמר הקדוש ברוך הוא אני עוסק להמליך את בנו במצרים והוא אומר למה הרעותם לי היא דהוא אמר (ישעיה מ) נסתרה דרכי מה' ומאלהי וגו' ויאמרו שאול שאל האיש וגו' אמר רבי אבא בר כהנא אפילו עצי עריסותינו גלה לנו ויאמר יהודה אל ישראל אביו מוטב תהא נפש אחת בספק ולא כולם בודאי אנכי אערבנו כל הימים זה העולם הבא שכולו יום:

When the brothers told Yaakov that they had told the Egyptian that they had a brother in Canaan, Yaakov angrily accusing his sons of doing him an evil by revealing what they didn't have to.  The point of the Medrash is that Yaakov shouldn't have reacted to this unpleasant news so negatively.  He should have realized that a baal bitachon must accept what happens more calmly, since Hashem orders all events, and all that we experience is purposeful and ultimately fulfills the will of Hashem.  The Medrash says that Yaakov's words were davar shel batalah, empty words, because Hashem was doing all of this to ensure the survival of Klal Yisrael, and it was not right for Yaakov to call the events "Ra."

In our parsha, too, Yaakov tells Pharaoh that his life was short and "Ra."  47:9- מעט ורעים, היו ימי שני חיי,

Rav Solomon points out that in Parshas Vayechi, from the perspective of his penultimate hour, Yaakov looked back and saw that Hashem had shepherded him from his earliest youth till that very day.  Yaakov used the words הרועה אותי.  These words, which echo the word הרעותם, indicate that Yaakov realized that while the event elicited despair in the moment of experience, in retrospect he saw that he had spoken hastily, that he now realizes that he was a sheep, and Hashem was his shepherd, and he was being lovingly guided by Hashem toward an ultimate good that required that he experience all those frightening and frustrating moments.

This is exactly the same idea the Beis Halevi says in Parshas Beshalach, when Moshe Rabbeinu said Oz Yashir.  He brings a Medrash (Shemos 23:3)
 אז ישיר משה. איתא במדרש (שמו"ר כג ג) אמר משה באז חטאתי שאמרתי (שמות ה) ומאז באתי לדבר אל פרעה הרע לעם הזה באז אני אומר שירה.
that Moshe said "I sinned when I complained "mei'oz bosi el Pharaoh": Moshe had said "from the moment (Me'Oz) I came before Pharaoh, he has made it bad for this people," and I do teshuva by singing to Hashem with the word Oz, that I now realize that all the apparent hardship was necessary to bring us to the point of this great Kiddush Hashem of Krias Yam Suf.  Please note that in Moshe Rabbeinu's precipitous words he also said Ra,  הרע לעם הזה.  Later, in retrospect, he realized that what seems like Ra in the moment might actually be the foundation of a great good.  Same vort, same words used by the Yaakov Avinu and Moshe Rabbeinu, same ultimate realization.


  1. See the Ishbitzer at the beginning of the parsha who explains that this is the message of the whole Yosef story -- one second Yehudah thinks his life is in peril, the very next second all is well. The facts remain the same -- the only difference is perspective. Once the mask comes off the Egyptian viceroy, it's obvious that everything was a charade to begin with. Once the ultimate geulah happens (the az yashir) we will see the danges (the m'az basi part) was all tov in disguise. R' Nachman says all galus is just galus ha'da'as. Whether you get it from R' Solomon and the Beis haLevi or the Ishbizter and R' Nachman, all roads lead to the same spot on this one. Mazal Tov on the aufruf!

  2. I read what you've written recently, and now I see that it is the same theme. What attracted me to the vort was the ingenuity of finding a word that expressed both the confusion and the enlightenment, the Ra/Ro'eh and Mei'oz/Oz, but of course the point of all of this is that what appears to be "Ra" ultimately is for our to'eles.

    and Thank you. We're making it in my mother's house, which involved digging out the basement and the garage and renting and setting up chairs and tables and whatnot. and No, we're not using a caterer, oh no, we have to do it ourselves. It sounded like a good idea three months ago. IN RETROSPECT,'s the type of activity you would have a chain gang doing in Georgia.

  3. See also Rav Schwab on the first possuk of vayechi.

    Re: Ra turning into to'eles. Let us know if it also applies to when it is self-induced as, just as a random example plucked out of thin air, deciding not to use a caterer.

    Also remember what da'as zekainim is no'che from.

    Mazal Tov and much yiddishe nachas

  4. great unknown is referring to Rashi on 45:23, which states:
    מטוב מצרים: מצינו בתלמוד ששלח לו יין (ישן) שדעת זקנים נוחה הימנו. ומדרש אגדה גריסין של פול:

    This actually describes the two main ingredients in my diet, namely whisky and Chummus. As for daas zkeinim nocheh heimenu, let me tell you, losing weight has almost gotten me into a lot of trouble.

    But the aufruf was very beautiful. The basement space was just barely adequate, and the kiddush was well attended and good divrei torah adn bracha were said. I think I said a nice thing: I said that one of the reasons I wanted to make it in the Chassan's grandparents' house was that when you make kiddushin, it could be that the kedusha aspect of the kiddushin is a din of hatfasa, like most hekdesh, like the Ran in the beginnig of Nedarim. If so, you want to be matfis in a kedusha that was an exemplary fulfillment of a bayis neeman. In order to be matfis in that kedusha, it's best to do it in a house that was a true bayis neeman be'yisrael.

  5. amazing vort i figured you would appreciate good for kiddush bris and bar mitzvah i Was wondering if you could add subtract and or write it up!