Saturday, January 14, 2006

Vayichi II: Yaakov Mitaso Shelaima

The gemara in Pesachim 56a relates that when Ya'akov was on his deathbed he wanted to reveal the z'man geulah. However, at that moment the shechina left hm and he could not tell it over. Ya'akov was then nervous that one of the shevatim had sinned and was not worthy of being part of the shitei-kah. When the shevatim responded with Shema Yisroel, Ya'akov realized that all his children were tzaddikim.
The Tzlach (Pesachim 56a) asks what is the significance of the shevatim saying Shema Yisroel? Why davka that possuk? He answers with a beautiful teretz that (in my opinion) gets to the root of what Ya'akov's tafkid was. The Tzlach says that we know that Avraham represented middas hachesed, while Yitzchak represented middas hagevurah. Furthermore, both Avraham and Yitzchak had children who were p'soles come out from them. Avraham had Yishmael and Yitzchak had Eisav. Ya'akov was concerned that one of his children was also "p'soles" similar to Yishmael and Eisav. The Shevatim responded to Ya'akov's concern by saying "Shema Yisroel Hashem Elokeinu Hahsem Echad". The shem havyah ("Hashem") of HKBH represents the middas chesed of HKBH while the shem "Elokim" represents the middas hadin of HKBH. The Shevatim were telling Ya'akov that unlike Yishmael who was the p'soles of chesed , and unlike Eisav who was the p'soles of gevurah, they were shaleim both in their middas hachesed and in their middas hagevurah.

Why do I feel that this vort gets to the root of what Ya'akov was all about? Stay tuned...

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