Vol 35.33 - Vayechi 1 Spanish French Audio Video
1. In our Parsha on the verse (Gen. 47:31):
“And he said, ‘Swear to me’. So he swore to him, and Israel prostrated himself on the head of the bed.”
“and Israel prostrated himself: (Although the lion is king) when it is the time of the fox, bow down to him”. (וישתחו ישראל: תעלא בעידניה סגיד ליה)
(If you see that the fox’s time is successful, bow down to it)
Plainly, Rashi’s intent is to explain why Yaakov bowed to his son (Yosef). For “when it is the time of the fox, bow down to him” (even though he is the least of the wild animals”)
Further on in the verse (ibid 48:2)
“And it was told to Jacob . . "Behold, your son Joseph is coming to you." And Israel summoned his strength and sat up on the bed”.
“And Israel summoned his strength: He said, “Although he is my son, he is a king. (Therefore), I will bestow honor upon him” From here (we learn) that we must bestow honor upon royalty”
(In other words that “we must bestow honor upon royalty” at all times, even in our case where it is speaking of a father and his son).
Seemingly, these two comments of Rashi have the same subject – namely that Yaakov bestowed honor to Yosef (and bowed to him) even though he was his son (and therefore Yosef was considered a “fox” compared to him).
One must understand the reason for the difference between these two comments of Rashi.
On the other hand, specifically in the second verse does Rashi see a need to explain the difficulty (“Although he is my son”).
The Rom (R' Eliyahu Mizrachi) (as well as many of the other commentators) explains that the reason that “when it is the time of the fox, bow down to him”, is not because of the “honor of royalty”. “For if so when (Yosef) came before him, he should have immediately bowed”. However, the reason he bowed was only “because he needed him” for “he requested his needs from him (as it states “and you shall carry me out of Egypt, and you shall bury me in their grave"). And he acceded to him and swore to him.
According to this, the explanation of the parable of “when it is the time of the fox, bow down to him” is that “time of” means “the time that you need him”. Moreover, that this bowing is not the bestowal of honor, in and of itself, but rather it is like the Levush writes that:
“It is not applicable to say “when it is the time of the fox” except where he . . shows him deference in order that he perform his request that he needs from him”.
Seemingly, this explanation requires great examination, as the commentators ask:
“For it is impossible to say . . that he bowed and subjugated himself in order that he fulfill his request. For after the oath he bowed to him, and not at the time of the request”
Also – it is difference to say that Yaakov, bowed to Yosef “in order that he fulfill his request” for plainly (in the simple meaning of the verse) Yosef acceded to Yaakov request even without Yaakov bowing to him.
2. Seemingly, one could explain the intent of the Rom,
Namely that “when it is the time of the fox, bow down to him” applies to one who “subjugates himself in order that he fulfill his request” and “’also as thanks (after he fulfils his request)
that “whoever needs someone” means that he should thank him through bowing (“bow down to him”).
The same is in our case. After Yosef promised Yaakov concerning his burial and swore to him, Yaakov thanked him through bowing.
However, why must Rashi explain this specifically through a parable of “when it is the time of the fox, bow down to him” (and does not suffice with the explanation of the matter, like his aforementioned words in his comment of “And Israel summoned his strength”)?
It is even more problematic:
Bowing in this context – namely subjugating oneself toward someone who he needs
(Whether it is with regard to thanks, or in order that the fulfill his request)
is found regarding Avraham, when he requested from the Bnei Cheis that they sell him the Cave of Machpeilah, as it states: “(Avraham) bowed to the people of the land, the sons of Cheis. . Avraham bowed to the people of the land”. We also find this regarding Yaakov himself. For in addition to the gift that he sent to Esau, as it states “I will appease him with the present that goes before me“, when he actually met Esau, he bowed to the ground before him, so much so that he bowed “seven times”.
From this it is understood, that if Avraham would not have needed the Bnei Cheis, and if Yaakov would not have needed Esau, that they would not have bowed down to them. Nevertheless, in the aforementioned places, Rashi does not cite the parable of “when it is the time of the fox, bow down to him”.
From this is implies that “when it is the time of the fox, bow down to him” is not like the aforementioned aspects of bowing (of Avraham to Bnei Cheis, and Yaakov to Esau). In other words, a subjugation because one needs another – but rather, there is another aspect to this.
3. The Gur Aryeh explains that “when it is the time of the fox, bow down to him” means that when the time favors him, then bow down to him”. This is like the saying of the Sages “you have no man who does not have his hour” . . And the reason that he did not immediately bow, when Yosef came to him is because then, there is certainly no reasoning that the father should bow to the son. On the contrary, this would be a derogation to Yosef, if his father bowed to him. It also would have appeared that Yaakov is flattering Yosef, in order that he fulfill his request. However, now that he promised him regarding the burial, he bowed to him. And if you should say, ‘where do we know that it was because it was his time? Perhaps it was because he promised him for the burial, which is why he bowed to him?’ This is no question, for even so, he should not have bowed to his son”.
From his words it appears that Yaakov‘s bowing to Yosef was not related (so much) to Yaakov‘s request. Rather, it was (mainly) because of Yosef‘s status at the time that “the hour favored him“ (and in order that it not be a derogation of Yosef etc., he bowed to him only when he promised him regarding the burial).
However, one must examine this:
Since we bow to someone who “the hour favors”, where do we know another reason from “Israel summoned his strength and sat up on the bed“?
(In other words, as Rashi states: “From here we learn that we must bestow honor upon royalty“. In other words that this is a new reason).
It appears, that according to Rashi, “when it is the time of the fox, bow down to him” is a special category of bow, which we have not learned of until now, as will be explained.
4. This can be understood by prefacing a puzzlement in this verse (“And he said, "Swear to me.” So he swore to him”), that Rashi, seemingly, should have answered:
In the previous verse, it is told that on Yaakov‘s request of Yosef “I will lie with my forefathers, and you shall carry me out of Egypt, and you shall bury me in their grave", that Yosef answered, “I will do as you say."
Afterward Yaakov said “Swear to me” – “and he swore to him”
This is puzzling. Did Yaakov suspect Yosef that he would not fulfill his words “I will do as you say”, so much so, that he needed him to swear on this?
The commentators explain that the reason of this oath was not in order to encourage Yosef (לזרז). Rather, that to promise that pharaoh would not prevent Yosef from fulfilling his promise.
This is as Rashi explains further on in the verse (Gen. 50:6):
“Go up and bury your father as he adjured you“
“Were it not for the oath, I would not permit you (to go). He (Pharaoh) was afraid to tell him (Joseph) to transgress the oath, however, lest he say, “If so, I will transgress the oath that I swore to you that I would not reveal that I understand the holy tongue (Hebrew) in addition to seventy languages of the nations of the world, but you do not understand it (Hebrew)”.
Therefore, we find that without this oath, pharaoh would not have given him permission.
However, it is difficult to resolve Rashi so. For in this very place here (where the question arises) he does not deem to explain that the oath was just because of pharaoh. Therefore, it appears that according to Rashi’s view (in in the simple meaning of the verse) this was not the reason for the oath.
In other words, according to Rashi, the purpose of the oath was like the simple meaning of the incident – to encourage Yosef. In addition, the reason that Yaakov needed this is so simple, that there is no need to explain it.
One could say that the explanation of this is:
Even though “Yosef was the ruler over the land” and “without you, no man will lift his hand or his foot in the entire land of Egypt.”. Nevertheless, he was just the viceroy. “By (virtue of) the throne (I (pharaoh) will be greater than you)”. Therefore, since pharaoh’s will was that Yaakov be buried in Egypt (so much so that Rashi explains here that Yaakov was concerned that “the Egyptians will not deify me”), the fulfillment of the request of his father contained a unique difficulty, that needed to be overcome. Therefore, Yosef needed a special strength (תוקף מיוחד) in order to prevail upon pharaoh‘s will and to fulfill his father’s will.
This is the reason that Yaakov had Yosef swear, even though without the oath ,Yosef would have fulfilled his father’s will – in order that it should assist him and strengthen him to withstand pharaoh (כדי לסעדו ולחזקו לעמוד נגד פרעה)
(and also to prevail over all the obstacles and barriers that were possible to arise).
As we see in people’s nature. That when one swears to do a certain thing, the oath endows the person with a unique strength, not to be fazed from anything that could oppose his fulfilling the oath.
5. According to this, one could say that this is also the essence of Yaakov‘s bowing to Yosef because “when it is the time of the fox, bow down to him”:
In continuation of the oath that Yaakov adjured him to fulfill his request, in order to strengthen Yosef even more, he bowed to him. With this he awakened in Yosef the characteristic (Midah) of sovereignty (התנשאות), namely that he should feel like “a king’ in this matter, in a manner that nothing would be able to oppose him.
This is also the essence of the aspect of “when it is the time of the fox, bow down to him”:
Since the fox is “the least of the wild animals“ (the opposite of sovereignty and kingship). When it is “its time”, namely when he is the ruler, one needs to strengthen it with greater strength and vigor. Therefore, “(specifically) when it is the time of the fox - bow down to him”. The same was with Yosef. For even though compared to Yaakov he was considered a “fox” (see further on (ibid. 48:12) when Yosef bowed to his father). Nevertheless, in this matter – “when it is its time”– one must bow to him.
One could add another reason why Rashi specifically chose “fox”. This was in order to further allude to the aspect that Yaakov warned Yosef. For in addition to the extra measure of strength, one must also have increased wisdom, in order to arrange Yaakov’s burial in a manner that, from the very onset, there would not be any obstacle to this. Therefore, Rashi likens Yosef to a “fox”. For a fox is the “sharpest of all the wild animals” (פקח שבחיות).
(With this, one can also explain the precise wording in Rashi, here. Rashi’s source in is the Talmud – tractate Megillah. There the Talmud prefaces the words “This is what people say: When the fox is in its hour” (היינו דאמרי אינשי).
One must examine why Rashi omits these introductory words? For we find, many times, in Rashi that he cites these words (such as in Parshat Vayeira “This is what people mean by the adage”, or in Parshat Lech “a common proverb (says)).
Yet according to the aforementioned, one could say that this expression fits with an aspect that is just a parable or a similarity (but something that has no reasoning to the essence of the aspect). Whereas in our case, where according to Rashi it is not just a parable, but rather there is a reasoning to Yaakov’s bowing to Yosef, that it is “the time of the fox” (then there is a special obligation to) bow down to him”).
6. According to this, even the difference between “and Israel prostrated himself” in our verse and that of the later verse “And Israel summoned his strength and sat up on the bed” is understood. For there, this was just in order to bestow “honor to kingship”- just the bestowal of honor. Whereas here, where it was not (just) the bestowal of honor, but a deed of encouragement (פעולה של חיזוק).
This is also the reason for the difference between them. For later on it just states “And Israel summoned his strength and sat up on the bed”. Whereas here it states that he bowed to him. One could say that that the reason that he did not bow to him afterward, is not because he was unable to do so (since he was ill) but rather that due to the reason of “bestowing honor to royalty“ there is no need to bow, as aforementioned .
(This is similar to the example in Rashi there, from that which “Moshe bestowed honor upon royalty”. For the honor was just in a manner of his speaking to pharaoh).
Certainly it is much more so in our case (וכ"ש וק"ו בנדו"ד) for this detracts the honor of one’s father (כיבוד אב), namely that Yaakov should bow to Yosef. Therefore, it is just “Israel summoned his strength and sat up on the bed” (in Yosef’s honor).
Whereas here, where he needed to lend him support to fulfill his command to bury Yaakov in Eretz Yisroel, the plain bestowing of honor was not sufficient. Rather, there needed to specifically be bowing, a deed of royalty (פעולה של התנשאות) - “when it is the time of the fox, bow down to him”.
Msichas Shabbat Parshat Vayechi 5727
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