Illuminations #104, Tevet 5777, Parshat Vayechi

KollelNerHamizrach__illumination logo

Illuminations #104, Tevet 5777, Parshat Vayechi

Torah Gems

In his blessing to his son Dan, Yaakov Avinu says: ‘Lishuatkha kiviti Hashem, (for your salvation have I hoped, O Lord).’ Hakham Yosef Haim says that there are two different types of salvation, natural and miraculous. As long as the average person can be saved from his trials and tribulations in a natural way, God will not perform miracles for him. However, that is not the case for the righteous: they receive both kinds of salvations.
Someone who is going through a difficult period and hopes for salvation in a natural way does not receive any rewards or praise for his hopes. This is because it is the ordinary course of nature for circumstances to change and is not something extraordinary. If, on the other hand, he hopes for salvation in a way that is beyond the norms of nature, it is considered praiseworthy. This is because it shows that he has the important requirement of faith, because he fully believes in God’s ability to do that which is above nature.
As the profit Habakkuk stated, “The righteous one shall live by his faith.” So when it says,  “For your salvation have I hoped, O Lord,” it means that I did not hope for the natural occurrence which the holy name Elokim symbolizes, but rather, I hoped for the miraculous salvation which is connected with the holy name Hashem, which is the one used in the verse.

Parsha Pearls

“זבולון לחוף ימים ישכון” “Zevulun will dwell in the shores of the seas”

The Ben Ish Hai asks in his work Aderet Eliyahu: why does it say ‘seas’ in the plural? He explains that there are two types of seas. One of them is the sea of Babylonian Talmud, and the other is the sea in the literal sense, the one on which ships carrying the merchandise of businessmen sail. The tribe of Zevulun was composed of wealthy businessmen that supported the tribe of Yissakhar, who would sit and study the holy Torah. The one who suports has a portion in the reward of the Torah that the Talmid Hakham studies.
Our sages tell us that when a rich person who supports a Talmid Hakham goes to the world to come, he will be told to take the reward for learning Masekhtot of the Gemara. The man who supported Torah will respond that he never studied them. They will respond that since he supported someone that studied it, he receives reward as if he actually learned it himself.
That is why the word Yamim (seas) is in the plural. The letters of the word ימים is the word ים twice. This refers to the two seas that Zevulun merited to receive: the sea of Torah and the sea of material wealth.

Glimpses of Greatness

Once, when Rav Yaakov Abuhatzera was in the city of Marakesh, he decided that he wanted to write a pair of Tefillin. He asked around the city for a good sofer until he was told to go to a man who was known to be a professional sofer, a big talmid hakham, and a yarei shamayim. The sofer was brought to Rav Yaakov, who requested a beautiful pair of tefillin. The sofer assured the Rabbi that he could provide him with his request. “But,” said the Hakham, “there is a condition. You must go to the mikveh each time before you write Hashem’s name and you must have the kavanot of the Ari’zal.” Rav Yaakov then gave a bag full of money and told the sofer to take any sum he would like for the job. The sofer accepted the job with its conditions and began writing. When he had almost finished writing he realized that at one Shem Hashem he had fogotten to have the kavanot of the Ari’zal. Since it was too difficult to start over, the sofer did not tell Rav Yaakov. He thought that surely the one omission would not make a difference. Upon receiving the tefillin, Rav Yaakov started to inspect the tefillin to make sure they were kosher. When he reached that  Shem Hashem where the sofer forgot the requested kavanot, he turned to the sofer and asked him if it is possible that he had forgotten the kavanot when writing this Shem Hashem. The sofer begged for his forgiveness and wrote him a new pair of tefillin.