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Parshas Vayechi - Living Through Our Written Words     13 Teves 5780

01/10/20 12:50:16

Jan10

In 2005, at the conclusion of the eleventh completion of the Daf Yomi cycle, I was inspired to contribute to the Jewish world of learning Torah. As the excitement grew following the world-wide celebrations of this Siyum HaShas, more and more Torah publications were written to enhance the daily learning initiative. Highly motivated by the excitement of having completed this seven-and-a-half year cycle, I came up with an idea for making the daily learning of one page of Gemara come to life and grow in significance. I noticed over the years that Rashi, the main commentary and Tosafos, give a basic explanation and understanding of the text. In addition to the main purpose of their approach, I noticed that on almost every daf (a daf is both sides of the page) there would be a comment that was not particularly needed to explain the text. It was sometimes an insight into nature or life. At times it explained and also guided human behavior; at other times it was a soft rebuke. All in all, I thought it was something unique to call out every day, share thoughts regarding life experiences that relate to the learning or events of each day.

  1. eagerly began this project, striving to identify some insight into human psychology that I learned in Rashi’s commentaries. Each day I wrote a few hundred words, striving to highlight and illuminate the insights of Rashi which went beyond the textual understanding of the Gemara. Unfortunately, this keen commitment lasted for about nine days. This past Sunday as we again completed and began the new cycle of learning each day, I turned to the Gemara that I had used fifteen years ago, and I am now reviewing those highlights and am sharing the insights I had written with our Daf Yomi group. Nevertheless, feel a twinge of regret for not having continued pursuing my goal. Perhaps the silver lining in my not continuing was the initiation of writing of a weekly message a few years later. The project of writing a weekly message was manageable because it was only once a week. As look back, my weekly message is similar to the initial book in that I took a common or obvious event or feeling from our daily lives and related it back to something in the Parsha. These weekly writings eventually were published in book form. Now as I look back at my recorded insights of Rashi, was once again overcome with a desire to take on this challenge anew, I knew I could not if I were still writing a weekly message. Now, three years after publishing my first book, I signed a contract to write/publish a second one. Perhaps when I finish this book, I’ll take a break from the weekly writing and write a daily insight from that day’s daf Yomi.

When writing a book of this genre, the author must strive to maintain a consistent theme which clearly reflects and nurtures the purpose of the work. In addition, this challenge must also repeatedly reflect the importance of that theme to the reader, insuring from the outset that specific thoughts compliment and deepen both awareness and belief with clarity and personal appeal to the reader. This Shabbos we read Parshas Vayechi, concluding Sefer Bereishis. What was the Author’s intent throughout the book of Bereishis? Of course, there is no comparison with a human being writing a book compared to God who knows all. Nevertheless, what was the theme of Sefer Berishis?

A primary purpose of creation is knowing that Hashem created the world. This introduction is that the Neshama/soul is the center of our Emunah/belief. Hashem created His house. At the very beginning man must decide if he will look at this world as if he alone is in charge or if he stands in front of and ultimately answers to HaKasoh Boruch Hu. This decision must be made from the outset. It is an indication of whether or not he is a Ba’al Emunah or not. To make such a determination we study and learn about the three primary personalities in Bereishis: Avraham Yitzchok and Yakov. These are our Avos, our fathers, the core reason why the Book of Berishis is called by “Sefer HaAvos” the book of the fathers. Each believer has a unique characteristic that highlights his or her Emunah to God. It is that unique quality that brings out our sign of belief in Hashem. Avraham, Yitzchok and Yakov make up the face of Emunah through certain practices throughout our lives..

Avraham was the ‘mevater’ - a yielding person. He gave up his land, birthplace and family. He was willing to give up his life and be burned alive in Ur Kasdim by refusing to bow down to Nimrod. Avraham yielded to Sarah’s demand to send out Hagar and Yishmael, and then was ready to sacrifice his own son Yitzchok. Reb Zushya explains Avraham is willing to give up everything to serve God because of his belief.

Yitzchok was a ‘Parush’ - a reclusive, abstinent, and self-denying person. He separated himself for the Akeidah by separating and making himself like an Olah, a sacrifice to God. He did not go down to Egypt nor did he leave for Aram Naharayim. At the end of his days he went blind and was not able to see results of sins. Through these acts of separation, he elevated himself due to the endless Emunah and belief he had in Hashem.

Yaakov was a ‘sovel’ - a person of great patience. Yaakov served God with total devotion and patience. Yaakov was able to tolerate the shenanigans of his father-in- law Lavan. He endured the taking of Dinah and the selling of Yosef. He carried the burden of exile, going down to Egypt.

These are the qualities that shaped the essence of our Avos, demonstrating total belief, faith that Hashem created the world and is the one and only God.

  1. ultimate purpose of writing is to strengthen and deepen our Emunah and faith in Hashem. It is during the daily struggles of life, its ups and downs and challenges, that we need to see and reach out to Hashem. Whether it is from a Rashi pointing out something about our daily life or something that I point out in the obvious and not so obvious events of life that we see Hashem. This is the success of a sefer and concluding it, maintaining the theme of Emunah from beginning to end. The word Bereishis can be divided Barah Shis Hashem - created in six. It is within the creation of the six days that we can see God’s hand and develop recognition of Him to strengthen our Emunah. Just as we finish Sefer Bereishis we should see Hashem and continue to deepen our Emunah and belief in Hashem throughout the other twenty three books of Tanach, making our way through the Torah She’Baal Peh the Oral Torah with focus, devotion, and continued growth and depth of understanding.

Ah Gut Shabbos

Rabbi Avraham Bogopulsky

 

Sun, May 24 2020 1 Sivan 5780