<I>Vayechi</I>: Exile Closes In

Usually, a space separates between two parshiyot, but there is no space between parashat Vayigash and parashat Vayechi. Chazal understand that Ezra the Scribe, who wrote the first Torah scroll, purposely connected the two parshiyot. The question is: what's the connection?

Aloh Naaleh,

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Arutz 7
Usually, a space separates between two parshiyot, but there is no space between parashat Vayigash and parashat Vayechi. Chazal understand that Ezra the Scribe, who wrote the first Torah scroll, purposely connected the two parshiyot. The question is: what's the connection?

Rashi says that the parasha is "closed" because: 1) after Yaakov died, the eyes and hearts of the Jews were closed due to the misery of slavery that began then; and 2) the information that Yaakov had wanted to give his children before he died was closed to him; i.e., HaShem kept it from him.

As to why the slavery began now, the Kli Yakar (Rabbi Shlomo Efraim of Luntchitz) suggests that the answer is the connection between the two parshiyot. At the end of Vayigash it says (46:27), "And Israel dwelled in the land of Goshen and they took possessions there and multiplied exceedingly." The Kli Yakar notes that instead of the original plan to sojourn in Goshen temporarily, the Jews became so comfortable there that they "settled," "took possessions" (i.e., bought land) and even "multiplied exceedingly" (i.e., put down roots by establishing families, which you only do when you plan to be in a place for a while).

Thus, Israel's enslavement was God's way of saying, 'Obviously, life in Goshen has become so cozy that you don't care about going back to the land I gave you. Therefore, I will begin a period of slavery and hardship just to remind you that you should never feel too comfortable outside the land of Israel.'

Regarding Rashi's second explanation that the parasha is closed because certain information was held back from Yaakov, the rabbis say that the information that Yaakov wanted to reveal to his children was when the Moshiach would come. That information may have been "closed" to Yaakov because it was not the most important thing for him to be telling his children before he died. Maybe the message Yaakov should have left with them was: 'Don't dwell in Egypt or take possession of the land or multiply exceedingly there. Always feel uncomfortable outside the land of Israel, knowing that you are not truly at home.'
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Shprintza Herskovitz was born and raised on the Upper West Side of Manhattan, New York. After graduating Hunter College , she worked on Wall Street. In 1996, she took a three-month leave of absence to come to Israel, and has never returned. Today, Ms. Herskovits resides in the Old City of Jerusalem and is a teacher and lecturer.




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