This week's parshah sheet is dedicated in memory of Yehudah ben Yichyah, z"l, the father of a dear friend. May the merit of this week's learning be a merit for his soul to ascend to higher spiritual realms.

Parshas Vayechi

It Hasn't Been "Easy"!


And Ya'akov lived 17 years . . . (Bereishis 47:28)

(The Hebrew word for "easy" is "kal" spelled kuf-lamed.)

YA'AKOV LIVED 17 YEARS: 17 is the gematria of "tov" (tes-vav-bais), and this alludes to the good and evil of Adam HaRishon, as Chazal say [on the following posuk], "I was not secure, I was not quiet, I was not at rest; and torment has come." (Iyov 3:25). [Ya'akov said:] I had no tranquility as a result of Eisav, no quiet because of Lavan, I had no rest because of Dinah, and torment came to me - the torment of Yosef (Bereishis Rabbah 84:3). The additional 17 years beyond these 130 years made up the balance of the 147 years of Ya'akov's life, which is the value of "tov." (Sefer HaLikutim)

The first question is, what connection was there between the first 130 years of Ya'akov Avinu's life, and Adam HaRishon? The only clue, at least from the Talmud, is the following source:

Rebi Meir used to say, "Adam HaRishon was very pious, for once he saw that death was decreed because of him, he fasted for 130 years and separated from his wife for 130 years." (Eiruvin 18b)
Well, at least we now have a reference to 130 years with respect to Adam HaRishon. However, we still haven't reached a conclusion as to why Adam's years of repentance resulted in Ya'akov's 130 years of suffering, or why Moshe's mother, Yocheved, had to be 130 years old before giving birth to Moshe Rabbeinu, and why the number 130 was prevalent with respect to the implements used in the Mishkan. (Parashas BeHa'alosechah)

We have discussed the answer to this in the past. According to the same passage in the Talmud cited, there was an evil by-product of Adam's 130 years of teshuvah: damaged souls. According to the Arizal, it is these souls, specifically, that must be rectified before Moshiach can come, and that was what Ya'akov's first 130 years of life were all about. All that he underwent was to somehow create a tikun for these souls.

What was their connection to Moshe Rabbeinu? The Arizal also explained that these souls, in order to undergo their process of rectification, had to reincarnate several times.

The first time they returned, they were the Generation of the Flood that was completely eliminated. Then, they reincarnated and returned as the Generation of the Dispersion that constructed the Tower of Bavel, who eventually and reincarnated as the people of S'dom, who, again were destroyed - all part of their tikun.

By the next time these errant souls returned, some had already completed most of their tikun, and returned as, none other than, the sons of Ya'akov Avinu - the Twelve Tribes. However, the vast majority had not been rectified sufficiently, and they returned as Egyptians during Yosef's time, though no one knew who they were.

This is why, explains the Arizal, Yosef used his position and the situation of famine to have the Egyptians perform Bris Milah in order to receive provisions. By performing Bris Milah, certain spiritual barriers were removed from these specific souls, freeing them to become more spiritual, which they did by converting to "Judaism" and becoming- you'll never guess who -the Erev Rav, or the "Mixed Multitude."

Ya'akov's descending to Egypt at the age 130 years signalled the main purpose for the Jewish people being going there, at least on a Kabbalistic level. And, revealed the Arizal, this is why Moshe was born to Yocheved when she was 130 years old. Since the souls of the Erev Rav originated from the same source as his own, except that theirs were damaged and his was not, Moshe took responsibility to rectify the souls that had resulted from Adam HaRishon's 130 years teshuvah.

However, Moshe's failure to rectify the souls of the Erev Rav fast enough resulted in the damage of the golden calf that they initiated. Hence, the implements for the Mishkan, which came as the "cure" for the "illness," have allusions to the number 130. And, adds the Arizal, the word "mishkelah" (mem-shin-kuf-lamed-heh), which means "its weight" and is used when describing the implements, is made up of two words: "Moshe" and "kuf-lamed," or "130."

The only question is, why 130?

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And Ya'akov lived 17 years in the land of Egypt . . . (Bereishis 47:28)
It is well known amongst Kabbalists that Egypt was the living representation of the spiritual concept called the "K'lipos:"
For, Egypt was the chief of all the K'lipos. (Sha'arei Leshem, p. 408
) - the source of spiritual impurity within creation, and therefore, of all evil within history. In Kabbalistic terms, this means Egypt was the place of the greatest absence of G-d's Light, and evil cannot exist where G-d is revealed.

Had Adam HaRishon not sinned, there could have been no Egypt. On the contrary, had Adam waited the three hours until Shabbos before eating from the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil, the holiness of Shabbos would have transformed it into the Tree of Life, and ALL evil, that is, all "k'lipos" would have been banished from creation FOREVER, as will be the case in the Days of Moshiach.

In other words, Adam's sin caused a reduction in the amount of G-d's Light that emanated throughout creation down to the world. The "units" by which that light is described is in terms of Yud-Heh-Vav-Heh. In other words, just as in the physical world, light can be described in terms of mathematical equations, so too in the spiritual world, G-d's Light can be described in terms of Yud-Heh-Vav-Heh, G-d's Ineffable Name.

In general, there are TEN different such Names per sefirah, each of which is also described by a different Yud-Heh-Vav-Heh. For example, the sefirah called "Malchus," the tenth and final one in the general system that governs Existence, is represented by a Yud-Heh-Vav-Heh, just as gravity, for example, is also represented by a mathematical formula. And, Malchus itself is made up of its own subset of ten sefiros, each of which is also represented by its own Yud-Heh-Vav-Heh.

Now for the punch line. When a person performs a mitzvah, he draws light down from the upper sefiros resulting in rectification to any "damaged" Names of G-d in the lower sefiros. If, G-d forbid, a person sins, he "damages" Names of G-d, which Name and the extent of the damage being dependent upon who performed the sin, when it was performed, how it was performed, etc.

When Adam HaRishon ate from the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil against the will of G-d, He damaged Names of G-d associated with the sefirah of Malchus. How many Names did he damage as a result? Well, if each Name of G-d is equal to 26 in gematria, and Adam sat in repentance for 130 years, it means he damaged FIVE such names (130 divided by 26 = 5), and that is what Kabbalah teaches.

With this information, perhaps we can now understand why it will be Moshiach Ben YOSEF who will put an end to the process that the father of his ancestor original began.

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And it was, when Rachel had given birth to Yosef, Ya'akov said to Lavan, "Grant me leave that I may go to my place and to my land." (Bereishis 30:25)

WHEN RACHEL HAD GIVEN BIRTH TO YOSEF: Once the adversary of Eisav was born, as it says, "The house of Ya'akov will be fire, the house of Yosef a flame, and the house of Eisav for straw; and they will ignite them and devour them (Ovadiah 1:18). Fire without a flame is powerless from a distance, and thus once Yosef was born, Ya'akov trusted in The Holy One, Blessed is He, and desired to return. (Rashi)

The Talmud makes an interesting comparison between Yosef HaTzaddik and Tzion - the name used to describe the ideal reality of the Jewish people living in Eretz Yisroel under the banner of Torah:
All that happened to Yosef happened to Tzion. For with Yosef it is written, "And Yisroel loved Yosef;" for Tzion it says, "G-d loves the gates of Tzion," for Yosef it says, "And they hated him," and for Tzion it says, "therefore have I hated it," etc. (Tanchuma, Vayaishev 10)
Ironically, there are TWENTY-SIX - the gematria of Yud-Heh-Vav-Heh -comparisons made between the life of Yosef and the history of "Tzion." Ironic, because the basis of the comparison between the two is not just ideological, but numerical as well, for both Yosef and Tzion equal 156 in gematria. And, 156 divided by 26 is SIX, the number that refers to the sefirah of Yesod (which we spoke about in Parashas Vayigash) which, of course, represents Yosef.

As we quoted previously:

The Yesod is divided into two kings, the Yesod and the Atarah. The Atarah is relevant to "malchus" since it is her (Yesod's) crown, which is why it is called "Atarah". . . Therefore, the Yesod and the Atarah became two, but after the tikun the Yesod and the Atarah became one in order to join together Zehr Anpin and Nukveh, forever . . . This is the sod of "Yemos HaMoshiach" being at the end of the sixth millennium . . .. (Hakdamos v'Sha'arim, page 172)
Why? Because the first FIVE thousand years of history were to rectify the FIVE Names of G-d that Adam HaRishon's sin damaged. Whatever it was that happened during the course of those first five millennia, and as difficult as it may be for us to see and relate to, it occurred to bring about the tikun that Adam began, and the Avos continued.

Building upon the base of the rectification of the five Names that were damaged, the sefirah of Yesod- and Yosef who is rooted in it -has the ability to go beyond it, and complete the historical rectification of all the Names of G-d, and rid the world of evil. Thus, the Vilna Gaon, when describing the process of the arrival of Moshiach Ben Yosef, refers to 156 levels or events destined to occur along that path to his completion of the process of tikun, and therefore, redemption.

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"Reuven, you are my first born . . . " (Bereishis 49:3)
The end of Sefer Bereishis is really the end of the true beginning, that of the Avos, the Forefathers. This is why, the Talmud teaches, another name for this book is, "Sefer HaYashar, because it is principally about the lives of the Avos, who were "straight" (yashar) in G-d's eyes. (Avodah Zarah 25a)

However, the way of the Avos was continuity- to assure that succeeding generations received the tradition of the preceding ones, to keep alive the spark that Avraham ignited and nurtured. A prime factor in this process, which is the most important underlying basis of Jewish survival, was the blessings bestowed upon the children by the fathers.

This was particularly true in the time of the Avos, when blessings were more prophecy and insight into the nature of the recipient than just good wishes for the future. This is why the blessings don't always sound as upbeat to us as we might have imagined they should have; they were descriptions of future realities, sometimes even warnings of what to avoid.

Ya'akov began by saying to his sons, "

Assemble yourselves and I will tell you what will befall you in the End-of-Days." (Bereishis 49:1)
The End-of-Days? Great! Who wouldn't want to hear about how history is going to end, and perhaps even when it will end? This has been a classic quest of most of mankind, at least the part of it that believes in the Messianic concept.

The trouble is, that Ya'akov never delivered the goods. While every generation has sat on the edge of its seat to hear what Ya'akov would reveal, in the end, Ya'akov seems to have dropped the subject before even getting to the answer, and the Talmud indicates why:

Rebi Shimon ben Lakish said: Ya'akov called for his sons and said, "Assemble yourselves and I will tell you what will befall you in the End-of-Days" (Bereishis 49:1). Ya'akov wanted to reveal to his sons the End-of-Days, but the Divine Presence left him. So, he said, "Perhaps, God forbid, there is something unfit from my bed (i.e., a spiritually unworthy child), just as Yishmael was born to Avraham, and Eisav to my father, Yitzchak?" His sons answered, "Shema Yisroel, Hashem Elokeinu, Hashem Echad" -Just as in your heart [G-d is] only One, so too in our hearts, there is only One. And at that moment, Ya'akov responded, "Boruch Shem kevod Malchuso l'olam va-ed" - Blessed be the Name of His glorious kingdom forever! (Pesachim 56a)
In other words, though Ya'akov had intended to follow through with his desire to reveal to his descendants what to expect just in advance of Moshiach's arrival, Heaven had other plans. Therefore, realizing this, Ya'akov could only continue on with the blessings of his sons, and skip the revelation about pre-Yemos HaMoshiach, and thus he began with Reuven:
"Reuven, you are my firstborn . . . foremost in rank (s'eis) and foremost in power" (Bereishis 49:3)
However, based upon the following, maybe Ya'akov did complete his thought, at least on some level:
Know that in the future, the root of Kayin will become the Kohanim, and the root of Hevel which, until now has been the source of the Kohanim, will then be Levi'im. For, until now, the level of Levi from the side of Gevuros, for example, Korach the Levi who was from the root of Kayin, had the Kehunah, the portion of the firstborn as it is known from the Targum on the posuk, "Reuven, you are my first born" (Bereishis 49:3, Sha'ar HaGilgulim, Chapter 35) . . . According to the Targum, the posuk, "Reuven, you are my firstborn . . . foremost in rank and foremost in power" (Bereishis 49:3), refers to the Birthright, the Priesthood, and the Kingship. The sod of "foremost in rank (se'eis)" is that it refers to the Priesthood, which is alluded to with respect to Kayin as well. When he sinned, he too lost the priesthood, which is called "se'eis." (Chapter 33)
Thus, Ya'akov may not have been able to describe all the events with regard to the arrival of Moshiach as he may have planned, in the end, based upon the Arizal, he did allude to some of the changes that would occur after his arrival.


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