We are told the following at the end of this week’s Torah portion, Vayechi. “Yosef saw a third generation born to (his son) Ephraim. Also, the sons of Mochir who was the son of Menasheh were born ‘on Yosef’s knees.'”
What is the meaning of being born “on Yosef’s knees?” Rashi explains that “as Targum Onkelus translates the words – he (Yosef) raised them between his knees.”
In the Alter Rebbe’s Shulchan Aruch, it says that the time of a baby boy’s Bris is the beginning of the entrance of his Divine soul into his body. Based on this, we can understand the explanation given by Targum Yonoson. He explains the meaning of “they were born on Yosef’s knees,” After they were born, Yosef circumcised them. The fact that the Bris was on Yosef’s knees means that it was their spiritual birth, i.e., the entrance of their G-dly soul.
This teaches us a great lesson, according to both Rashi and Onkelus. One is obligated to teach Torah to his children and his grandchildren. However, as far as great-grandchildren are concerned, he has no obligation to teach them as long as there are more qualified teachers than him. Nevertheless, from both Rashi and Onkelus, we see that Yosef taught his great-grandchildren, “he raised them between his knees.” This is even though Yosef had no obligation to teach them. Yehudah had founded and headed a Yeshiva full time before the arrival of all of the Jews in Egypt. Therefore, he may have been a greater scholar than Yosef. Yosef governed all of Egypt (including his family).
Consequently, he had the law of one who was “occupied with the needs of the community.” This would exempt him from the obligation of teaching. Nevertheless, we see that according to Rashi’s commentary on the Torah, there is an obligation to teach one’s great-grandchildren.
From this, we can learn a tremendous lesson. If one merits having great-grandchildren, he must teach them Torah, and if he is not capable, he must support the Torah institution where they study.
I wish one and all a good Shabbos!
Rabbi Shmuel MendelsohnAdapted from Likkutei Sichos Volume 20, Page 243-249
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
. Our Parshah, Bereishis 50:23.
. The Alter Rebbe, Rabbi Shneur Zalman (1745 – 1812), was the founder of Chabad Lubavitch.
. The Shulchan Aruch is the Code of Jewish Law. Despite the fact that a Shulchan Aruch existed prior to Rabbi Shneur Zalman, at the behest of his teacher, he wrote a more up-to-date version. Additionally, the Alter Rebbe writes the reasons behind each law.