Pearls of Rashi: Parshas Vayechi II

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In this week’s Torah portion, Vayechi, we are told that[1] “the sons of Mochir, the son of Ephraim (Yosef’s great-grandchildren), were born on Yosef’s knees.” Rashi teaches us that this means, as Targum renders it, that Yosef brought them up. According to Rashi’s explanation, the words of the verse “were born” retain their simple meaning. The Torah’s words “on Yosef’s knees” teach us that Yosef brought them up.

When does the Neshomah begin its entrance into the body of a baby boy? The Alter Rebbe writes that this happens at the time of his Bris. The Shulchan Aruch itself does not note a source for this. However, we do find a source in the words of our Sages. Targum Yonoson explains that “they were born on Yosef’s knees” means that they were circumcised on Yosef’s knees after they were born.  Their Bris on Yosef’s lap was their spiritual birth, i.e., the entrance of their G-dly soul.

We derive another Jewish law involving Torah study from here. One is obligated to teach the Torah to his children and his grandchildren. However, as far as great-grandchildren are concerned, as long as there are more qualified teachers than him, he has no obligation to teach them. Nevertheless, from both Rashi and Onkelus, we see that Yosef taught his great-grandchildren. He taught them, even though he was not responsible for doing so. Yehudah had founded and headed a Yeshiva full time before the arrival of all of the Jews in Egypt. Thus, he may very well have been a more significant scholar than Yosef. Yosef was the leader of all of Egypt. Therefore, he was in the category of one who is “occupied with the needs of the community.” Accordingly, he would be exempt from the obligation of teaching. Nevertheless, from Rashi’s commentary, we see a responsibility to teach one’s great-grandchildren.

The above teaches us a great lesson. If one merits having great-grandchildren, he must teach them Torah. If he is not capable, he must support the Torah institution in which they study. 

Have a great week and a wonderful Shabbos!

Rabbi Shmuel Mendelsohn

Adapted from Likkutei Sichos Volume 20, Page 243ff.

מוקדש לזכות כ”ק אדמו”ר נשיא דורנו מליובאוויטש

The Soldiers of Tzivos Hashem Chaim and Aiden Oded שיחיו Morris
Rabbi & Mrs. Menachem M. and Chaya Mushka שיחיו Morris

חיילי “צבאות השם” חיים ועדן עודד שיחיו מאריס
נדפס ע”י הוריהם
הרה”ת ר’ מנחם מענדל וזוגתו מרת חי’ מושקא שיחיו מאריס

[1]. Our Parshah, Bereishis 50:23.

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