Monday, January 16, 2006

Vayichi III: Ya'akov Mitaso Shlaima (continued)

Continued from here

The Avos had a unique role in life. Avraham’s middah was chesed. His role was to develop this middah and bring it out into the world. Yitzchak on the other hand had the exact opposite role. His middah was gevurah, which is represented by middas hadin and yirah. The difference between Avraham and Yitzchak can best be illustrated by the why the Torah presents each of them. Avraham had an open tent and went out in the world to spread the word of HKBH. Yitzchak on the other hand stayed home and presumably focussed on himself and his family. Now we come to Ya’akov. What was Ya’akov’s role in life? Ya’akov’s middah is Tiferes. Rav Chaim Yaakov Goldvicht (Asufos Ma’Areches VaYeitzei) explains that Tiferes represents harmonizing and synthesizing two extremes. Ya’akov’s role was to take Avraham’s middas hachesed and Yitzchak’s middas hagevurah and to synthesize them. Being that the middos of chesed and gevurah are opposite middos, it is necessary for a person to be able to understand when to utilize each middah. This was Ya’akov’s role. He had to teach his children and by extension all of Klal Yisroel how to combine both middos.
Understanding when and how to use one’s middos is represented by shlaimus. Ya’akov knew that he would only be successful if all his children were shlaimim and worthy of being part of the shivtei-kah. Unlike Avraham who had Yishmael, and unlike Yitzchak who had Eisav, Ya’akov knew that he was destined to have 12 children who were shaleim. If any of his children were not worthy of being part of the 12 shevatim, then Ya’akov would have felt that he failed in his mission.
With this we can now have a better insight into the Tzlach’s pshat. When Ya’akov sensed that his children were not fit to be the shevatim, he felt his whole mission in life had failed. The shevatim had to reassure Ya’akov that they were ra’oi l’kach and even more than that they had learned their lessons well. When they said Shema Yisroel, they weren’t just being m’kabeil ol malchus shamayim. But, rather like the Tzlach explains, they were explaining that they understand both the middas hachesed (shem havayah) and the middas hagevurah (shem Elokim) and how to use them together. They were assuring Ya’akov that they were indeed zocheh to be the shivtei-kah and Ya’akov had in fact succeeded in fullfilling his tafkid in life

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