Pearls of Rashi: Parshas Vayechi

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In this week’s Torah portion, Vayechi, we are told of the passing of Yaakov, our Patriarch. He spent his last seventeen years in Egypt together with his progeny. Once he knew that there was not much time left, he asked his son Yosef to make sure not to bury him in Egypt; he wanted to be buried in Israel together with our other patriarchs and matriarchs. He went so far as to make Yosef swear that he would do so[1]. He then blessed Yosef’s two sons, Ephraim and Menashe, and all of his children.

Once the time came, his children brought him to the Me’oras Hamachpelah, the burial place of his ancestors. The Torah tells us that[2] “his sons carried him to the land of Canaan, and they buried him in the cave of the field of Machpelah, which Avrohom bought for burial property from Ephron the Chiti ….”

Rashi makes several comments on this verse. Among them is that Yaakov ordered that “… Levi[3] shall not carry it because he will carry the Aron of Hashem …”

We need to understand Rashi’s words. Carrying the Ark was something that Levi’s tribe would not do until the distant future. Even then, Levi would not carry it; his descendants, many generations later, would. Why should he lose the Mitzvah of carrying his father’s coffin and bringing him to rest? 

The explanation is as follows. The servitude in Egypt did not begin until the passing of Yaakov. Rashi says at the beginning of our Parshah[4]. “As soon as our father Yaakov passed away, the eyes and the heart of Israel were “closed.” This was due to the misery of slavery, and that was when they, the Egyptians, began to enslave them.” Bringing Yaakov out of Mitzraim to Israel marked the beginning of exile and slavery.

This is why Levi did not carry Yaakov’s coffin. Yaakov’s passing marked the beginning of exile and slavery. Levi had no connection with exile, and he and his tribe transcended exile. Levi was the only tribe never enslaved in Egypt, and their only master was Hashem.

Just as was the case with Levi, each of us can raise ourselves above the limitations of exile[5]. All one must do is “set himself aside and stand before G-d to serve Him, minister to Him, and know Him. He must justly proceed as Hashem commanded him, removing from his neck the yoke of the many reckonings which people seek.”

I wish one and all a good Shabbos!

Rabbi Shmuel MendelsohnAdapted from Likkutei Sichos Volume 20, Page 235


DEDICATED IN HONOR OF THE LUBAVITCHER REBBE

IN LOVING MEMORY OF
DR. MINDEL RIVKA (MURIEL) BAS REB MENACHEM MENDEL SHLOMO ע”ה STITT
PASSED AWAY ON SHABBAT PARSHAS LECH LECHA, 10 MAR-CHESHVAN, 5782
MAY HER SOUL BE BOUND IN THE ETERNAL BOND OF LIFE

IN HONOR OF
The Soldiers of Tzivos Hashem Chaim and Aiden Oded שיחיו Morris
DEDICATED BY THEIR PARENTS
Rabbi & Mrs. Menachem M. and Chaya Mushka שיחיו Morris


[1] Our Parshah, Bereishis 47:31.

[2]. Our Parshah, Bereishis 50:13.

[3]. Meaning his tribe; his descendants.

[4]. Our Parshah, Bereishis 47:28.

[5]. See Rambam, Laws of Shemittah, Chapter 13, Paragraph 13.

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