Illuminations #143, Tevet 5778, Parshat Vayechi

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Illuminations #143, Tevet 5778, Parshat Vayechi

Torah Gems

Zevulun will dwell on the shores of the sea … Yissachar is a bony donkey that crouches between the borders (49,13-14)

Sforno comments that the blessing of Zevulun, who spends his days in the workplace, precedes the blessing of Yissachar, who spends his days toiling in Torah. He explains this is because a person must be provided with his material needs in order to toil in Torah, as Chazal state, ”If there is no flour, there is no Torah.” The Mitzvah to study Torah is one that is incumbent upon every individual. But this Mitzvah is one that can be carried out indirectly, by supporting another person’s learning. With regard to the mitzvah of davening, for example, another person’s tefillah will not exempt you from your personal obligation even if you support him. But if a person provides financial support so that his friend can learn Torah, he is a partner in all the Torah that his friend learns. This point is illustrated in the following Gemara. The gemara (Kiddushin29b) asks what one should do if he has the means to provide for either himself or his son to learn Torah, but  not for both of them. The Gemara answers that if his son is more intellectually proficient, he should send his son. The question remains, how will the father fulfill his own obligation to learn Torah by sending his son? This will be accomplished by sending his son in his place, thereby enabling him to learn Torah. If one is unable to learn a full day, he can still have much Torah study credited to his account if he supports those who engage their days and nights in Torah study.

Parsha Pearls

He blessed them that day, saying, ”By you shall Israel bless, saying ‘May God make you like Ephraim and like Menashe’”(48,20).

Many Jews bless their children on Friday nights with this beracha. What is so unique about this berachaRavYerucham Levovitz explains that Yaakov Avinu filled up this beracha with so many potential blessings that it overflowed to the point that whoever blesses his children with that formula receives a part of it. He compares this to the Gemara that says that whoever took a perutah (small coin) from Iyov was blessed. This means that since whatever Iyov owned was blessed with great success, whoever received even a minute amount of money from him was also the recipient of that blessing, which spread to whatever property and valuables he owned. 

When a person realizes the vast potential contained in this beracha of Yaakov Avinu, he will have more Kavanah(concentration)  when he blesses his children, thereby benefiting greatly from the blessing.

Glimpses of Greatness

Rabbi Yaakov of Lissa was the author of the famous works Chavas Daas and Nesivos Hamishpat. He wrote a lengthy ethical will, entitled Nachalas Yaakov, in which he requested that it not be inscribed on his matzeivah that he was a rav or a gaon because, “perhaps I sinned by taking a rabbinical position for which I wasn’t qualified. Therefore why should my sins be recorded forever? ” However, he did permit them to inscribe on his grave the names of the sefarim he wrote, because, “even if each sefer contains but one point that is correct and inspiring, that will be a source of merit for me in the world to come.”

Halacha Weekly

Q. Does a person have an obligation actually to purchase land in Israel or merely four amot there? [II-3-45]

A. Per Midrash Ruth (84),  “Everyone who purchases four amot in the land of Israel is promised a place in the World to Come.” How does one actually fulfill this requirement; should one purchase four amot in the land of Israel? Maharam MeRothenberg (4-530-6, R. Meir Ben Baruch Z”L) and Rashbah(Sheiltot 7-428, R. Shlomo Ben Abraham Ben Aderet Z”L) explain that it is not necessary since there is no individual in Israel who does not have a portion of land in Jerusalem. And because the Nations have established their possession of the Land [only] by force of arms, which is invalid, their [claim] to ownership over it is not established.  It is brought down to us that the land of Israel is not capable of being stolen ever and  is in its status of being in our possession forever.

However, there is an opinion that one should purchase four amot. Rambam Z”L mentions this (Laws of Agency and Partnerships 3-7), and writes that if a person does not have land, he can give money to his fellow with an authorization that he should purchase four amot [for him] from his [fellow’s] portion in Eretz Yisrael.  He adds, however, that one who purchases with money in this [indirect] fashion [makes] light of the matter, and [it represents a] shaky [basis on which] he can say that he has a portion in the land of Israel. Even if he is worthy, [the land] is not in his own [personal] domain [of ownership but that of his fellow].