Parashas Vayechi

This week’s parashah relates the blessings Yaakov gave his sons before his death. The Midrash relates (Bereishis Rabbah 97:1):
When our father Yaakov blessed Yosef, he [Yosef] went out with a beaming face. The [other brothers] said: “This is the rule for how all nations treat a man of standing. Since he is the king – one stands by the man of standing. Our father Yaakov told them: “‘Fear Hashem, O His holy ones, [for those who fear him have no lack]’ (Tehillim 34:10). I shall provide for all of you.”
As Matnos Kehunah explains, the brothers imagined that Yaakov was favoring Yosef because Yosef was the ruler. Yaakov responded by relating a teaching – “Fear Hashem …” – and then telling his sons that he would provide for all of them. At first glance, the relevance of the teaching is not entirely clear. The Maggid illuminates the point as follows.
In telling his sons that he would provide for all of them, it seems that Yaakov was seeking to direct them to come for their blessings in a orderly fashion, without trying to jump ahead of each other. This seems puzzling, for Yaakov himself jumped ahead at great risk in order to receive a blessing from Yitzchak before Eisav. But the two situations were different. Eisav was haughty, and so, in order to satisfy him, Yitzchak would have to bless him with supremacy: that he would be a lord over his brother and the sole man in the world of his stature. And in fact this is the blessing that Yitzchak planned to give him. Yaakov was therefore forced to jump ahead and take the blessings from Yitzchak, in order to avoid becoming a permanent slave to Eisav. But Yaakov’s sons were all towering saints, to whom haughtiness was an abomination. To satisfy them, it was enough for them all to receive an equal blessing. Hence there was no reason for them to try to jump ahead of each other. This is the message behind the teaching Yaakov related: “Fear Hashem, O His holy ones, for those who fear him have no lack.” He was saying: “For men of your towering piety, there is never any lack. It makes no difference in what order you receive your blessings, for I can provide for you all.”
David Zucker, Site Administrator

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