Vol 10.27 - Vayechi 2                              Spanish French Audio  Video

Hebrew Text:

Page 167   Page168   Page169   Page170   Page171   Page172   Page173   Page174  




(5733) "Jacob attempted to reveal the End of days" (Tal. Pes 56a, Rashi 49:1)  



1. On the verse,

“Yaakov called his children and said, ‘gather and I shall tell you (v’agida lachem) what will happen to you in the end of days (acharis ha’yamim). Gather and listen and etc.’” [VaYechi 49:1-2],

our Sages say (brought in the commentary of Rashi with textual variations, as will be discussed in Section 8): “Yaakov wished to reveal to his children the end of days (keitz ha’yamin) [i.e., when it would occur], but the Divine Presence withdrew from him.” 

It must be understood: How is this commentary on the verse, “Yaakov wished to reveal to his children the end of days,” derived?

At first glance, the literal interpretation of the text regarding the words, “I shall tell you,” pertains to the blessings and the subject matter written later in the Torah portion.  There are interpretations [P’sachim 56a] that the proof is from the words, “acharis ha’yamim,” which is understood as “the end of days,” as we find in Tanach, the phrase, “acharis ha’yamim,” is interpreted as “keitz ha’yamin” (the end of days) [VaEschanan 4:30; Yeshayahu 2:2; Yermiyahu 23:20]. 

But there are problems with that approach:

a) This is not sufficient proof, for “acharis ha’yamim” is not always interpreted as “the end of days.” Take, for example, the words of Bilam, where we find the phrase, “to your nation b’acharis ha’yamim,” and it refers to Dovid. [FN 5: Balak 24:14; commentary of Rashi ibid 24:17. And what Rashi writes there [[on the words, “A ruler shall come out of Yaakov and destroy the remnant of the city] (24:19), “He [Bilam] says this regarding the Messianic King,” does not refer to “your nation” but to [the nation of] Edom.] 

b) Even if we maintain that here “acharis ha’yamim” means “the end of days,” what is the proof that Yaakov wished to “reveal” this information to his children, to notify them when “the end of days” would be, a matter that is not to be revealed (“liba la’puma lo galya”)? [FN 6: Yalkut Shimoni Yeshaya remez 507. See also Sanhedrin 99a; Koheles Rabba 12:10]. Indeed, it is possible to say a simple interpretation – that even from the outset he only wished to tell them what would “happen,” what would occur to them in that time of “the end of days.” (In fact, he did tell them about some of these occurrences in the continuation of his words, as is explained in the commentary of Rashi there.) 

c) Since Rashi, who only discusses the “literal interpretation of the text,” brings this interpretation, we must say that all of this is necessary in even the literal interpretation of the text. 

2. The explanation: Since Yaakov said to them, “gather and I shall tell you…the end of days,” and then he reiterates, “Gather and listen, etc.,”

This proves that there are two separate matters being discussed here, matters that are distinct one from the other, to the extent that each statement requires an individual gathering unto itself. It is understood that the second instance (“Gather and listen”) is directed towards the subsequent section in the Torah portion, which is not so regarding the preceding first instance (“gather and I shall tell”). However, if so, why is Scripture vague in not mentioning what Yaakov wanted to say? And why did he not say it? Thus, our Sages say, “Yaakov wished to reveal to his children the end of days,” but he did not reveal it because, “the Divined Presence withdrew from him” (for which reason it is not recorded in the Torah). Yaakov, therefore, began again, telling them, “Gather” – in a different manner, not like “gather” stated as a preparation to listen to words spoken with the manifestation of the Divine Presence [upon him] – “and listen, etc.” 

However, explanation is still required: We infer from the Torah’s reiteration [of Yaakov’s instruction to “gather”], that Yaakov wanted to tell them something which he did not in fact say – and it was not recorded in the Torah portion – but what is the proof that the message [he wanted to communicate] was the revelation of when “the end of days” would occur, something that is absolutely hidden? It is possible that he wanted to reveal extra details (on top of those that he had revealed to them) regarding what would occur to them in the time of “the end of days” (but for some reason this information was withheld from being revealed to them). 

3. The explanation of the matter [FN 6: see also Section 8]:  

It says in the Zohar [FN 7: Vol. 1 234b; see Ohr HaTorah VaYechi 383a], and it is explained in Chassidus [see FN 8], regarding the three terms [for spoken communications] – dibbur (utterance), amira (speech), hagada (saying) – that the difference between them is: “dibbur” is associated with the mouth, “amira” with the heart, and “hagada” refers to words of wisdom. 

Among the distinctions between them is that dibbur and amira can be done with the superficial aspects of the soul. That is, with regard to dibbur, which is associated with the mouth, it is possible to pronounce an utterance in a manner that is “one expression in the mouth but another in the heart” [P’sachim 113b; Bava Metzia 49a]. Even speaking (amira) from the heart can be the opposite of the inner core of the soul, the opposite of one’s true will. 

The latter point finds expression in the explanation of Rambam [Laws of Divorce Ch. 2, end] regarding the reason for the law, “They [officers of the court] compel him [with force] until he says ‘I want [to give the divorce],’ [the man’s will being requisite for the divorce to be legal],” for his [evil] inclination forced him [to oppose the court’s ruling that he must divorce his wife] (for which reason he wants and desires to transgress). However, one’s true will, in the inner core of the soul of every single Jew, is to conduct himself in accordance with the Supernal Will. By means of compelling him, they nullify the force [and control the evil inclination possesses over him] and his will that it gave rise to, and he does what his inner soul desires. As it is plain to see, his prior saying, “I don’t want,” was not an instance of “one expression in the mouth but another in the heart,” for also in his heart he did not want to do so. To put it in terms of the well know phrase, “The eye sees and the heart desires” [see FN 11]. Rather, this instance of speaking (amira) stems from the superficiality of the heart. But in the core of his heart he always wants to do the will of G-d, may He be blessed. 

Hagada, on the other hand, stems from the core of the heart. That is what the Zohar means when it says that “hagada” refers to “words of wisdom.” For the effect of words of wisdom – the inner (and esoteric) dimensions of the Torah – is to arouse and reveal the inner (and hidden) core of the soul [Likkutei Torah VaYikra 5c]. 

The same principle applies with respect to the hagada of the Holy One Blessed Be He, which amounts to the elicitation of the Light of the Infinite One into a state of revelation. In this spirit, our Sages say regarding Agada (i.e., the non-legalistic sayings of our Sages; etymologically related to “hagada”), “If you want to recognize the

One Who spoke and the world came into being, you should learn Agada, for in so doing you will recognize the Holy One Blessed Be He, etc.” [Sifri Eikev 11:22 – see FN 13], for the inner (and hidden) core of the Holy One Blessed Be He illuminates and is revealed through Agada (the inner dimension of the Torah). 

Thus, we shall understand that the word “v’agida” (I shall tell) alludes to the fact that Yaakov wanted to tell (l’hagid), to reveal to his children a concept that is very deep (p’nimi, internal), namely, “the end of days.” The whole concept of “the end of days” is the revelation of the ultimate in concealment and depth – the revelation of the hidden dimension of the soul and the hidden aspect of the Holy One Blessed Be He – by means of the esoteric dimension of the Torah. 

4. We still must understand the specific wording of the saying of our Sages, “the Divine Presence withdrew from him.” 

The intent here is surely to provide a reason why

Yaakov did not reveal the keitz ha’yamin (the time when “the end of days” would occur). How does the Divine Presence withdrawing provide a reason for this? At first glance, the phrase should have read, “it (the keitz) was concealed from him” [FN 15: as in B’Reishis Rabba Ch. 98, beg.], or the like. Also, it must be understood how immediately thereafter [after “the Divine Presence withdrew from him”], Yaakov told them [his children] many prophetic statements, indicating that the Divine Presence did in fact rest upon him. 

The matter is explained as follows: 

“Yaakov wished to reveal to his children (i.e., knowing [their relative merits]) the end of days,” for according to his observations (seeing them as they “stood in his world,” from his perspective), Yaakov considered them (upon having assumed a state of being “gathered,” a certain milestone in being prepared) worthy of him revealing to them the keitz. [FN 16: From the fact that Yaakov considered even Eisav to have been refined (Torah Ohr, VaYishlach, beg.), permitting the possibility that there should be the Redemption, how much more so [[does this logic apply here with regard to his children gathered before him]. To that end, Yaakov told [Eisav], “I have…a donkey” – “donkey” refers to the Messianic King (B’Reishis Rabba 75:6. See Likkutei Sichos Vol. 1, pg. 70 ff).] 

Thus, Yaakov said, “gather and I shall tell you,” meaning, when you will have gathered and united, “I shall tell (and I will reveal to) you...the end of days,” when the end of days will occur. 

“But the Divine Presence (Sh’china) withdrew from him (as he was at that moment, wanting to reveal to his children the end of days). Here the word for “Divine Presence,” “Sh’china,” refers to the potential to be present (to dwell, l’hash’chin) in this matter – the revelation of the keitz – below (which is the meaning of the term “Sh’china,” “that it dwells and invests [itself within]” [Tanya Ch. 41]). 

That is to say that the Presence of G-d, may He be blessed (the revelation of the Light of the blessed Infinite One), rested upon Yaakov himself even after [“the Sh’china withdrew”], for indeed Yaakov told them words of prophecy, as mentioned above. In fact, the keitz itself was not even concealed from him. [FN 19: The latter is underscored in light of [[Rashi’s] diversion from the wording of the Midrash B’Reishis Rabba Ch. 98, beg. – the end of days “was concealed from him” – as will be discussed]. Rather, the “Sh’china” (the concept of revelation below) withdrew from the aspect of the keitz [i.e., there was no longer the potential for this secret to be revealed in the world]. 

This explains the precise wording of the Gemara, “the Sh’china withdrew from him” (and not, “the keitz was concealed from him”), for all that withdrew from Yaakov was the capacity l’hash’chin (to be present or dwell within) and to channel the revelation of the keitz (below). 

5. Nevertheless, our Sages emphasize in their wording, “the Sh’china withdrew from him [from Yaakov]” (notwithstanding the fact that the stated withdrawal of the Sh’china is a concept that seemingly applies strictly to the leaders of the Tribes [Yaakov’s sons]. Thus, it should have said, “but his children were not worthy of this,” or the like [FN 20: in accordance with Sanhedrin 11a]). 

[The reason for this emphasis on the withdrawal of the Sh’china from Yaakov is that] the very fact that his children were not worthy of the revelation of the keitz caused a descent also in Yaakov. Precedence for this concept [of vicarious descent] is found with regard to Moshe Rabbeinu, to whom the Holy One Blessed Be He said, “Go, descend (from your greatness); I have bestowed upon you greatness only for the sake of the Jewish people [who had sinned with the Golden Calf]” [Brachos 32a; commentary of Rashi Parshas Ki Sisa 32:7]. Since they are not worthy, this causes a descent also in Moshe.   

6. However, on that basis it is not understood: Since the state of Yaakov is dependent upon that of his children, why did the Sh’china withdraw from him only after he wished to reveal the keitz? They were in the same standing also prior to that (which is not the case with regard to the Jewish people and Moshe [for the Jewish people had experienced a descent after the sin of the Golden Calf]). Thus, from the outset there was no need for the manifestation of the Sh’china with regard to this matter [only to withdraw shortly thereafter]. 

Also in this instance we find a precedence with Moshe Rabbeinu: 

When Moshe descended from the mountain, there were “two Tablets of Testimony in his hand.” However, “when he approached the camp and saw the Calf and the dances,” immediately, “they became heavy upon his hands” [Yerushalmi Taanis 4:5], “Moshe’s anger was kindled, and he flung the Tablets from his hands, shattering them” [Ki Sisa 32:19]. At first glance, what was innovated at that moment [to evoke Moshe’s anger]? The Calf was made prior to Moshe’s descent from the mountain. In fact, Moshe knew about it when he was on the mountain. The Holy One Blessed Be He alerted him that “they made for themselves a molten calf and etc.” (indicating that Moshe didn’t have any doubt about it). So why did the Tablets become heavy upon his hands and Moshe’s anger was kindled specifically when he saw the Calf and the dances? 

The explanation: Throughout the entire duration of Moshe Rabbeinu’s ascent of the mountain he was removed from all matters pertaining to the lower realm; he had no connection with the world and worldly concerns. Therefore, the episode of the Calf did not affect him or his standing, even though it had already taken place in the world and he knew about it from having heard about it (from the Holy One Blessed Be He) [see FN 23]. However, upon descending from the mountain and subsequently also seeing [Ki Sisa ibid] the Calf, this matter affected him to the extent that the Tablets became heavy upon his hands, Moshe’s anger was kindled, and he threw the Tablets [see FN 25]. 

Similarly, in our case:

Notwithstanding the fact that also prior to Yaakov’s calling his sons, they were not fit for the revelation of the keitz, the Sh’china manifested itself also in the matter of revealing the keitz, for being that he was removed then from a connection with and a consideration of their standing, this did not affect him or move him. However, when he wished to reveal to his children the keitz, this constituted a connection and a bond with his children [and their unworthy status], which caused that “the Sh’china withdrew from him.” 

7. Nevertheless, since the concept of “gather and I shall tell you, etc.” is recorded in the Torah, it is understood that Yaakov’s wanting to reveal the keitz resulted in an effect manifest below. Indeed, this is an eternal Torah (teaching). 

(For were it not so, the Torah, which was given to every Jewish person, would not have related that Yaakov wished to reveal the keitz, etc.)

This principle – that the wish of the righteous does not return unanswered – is understood from other cases. 

In fact, this too is exemplified in Moshe Rabbeinu. In general, Moshe and Yaakov represent the same concept, but “Yaakov is from the outside and Moshe is from the inside.” [FN 26: Tikkunei Zohar tikkun 13 (29a), elucidated in Likkutei Torah Parshas Pinchas, (second discourse with) words beginning, “Command the Jewish people,” etc.] 

It is explained regarding Moshe Rabbeinu that (although he did not enter the land) through his prayer, “I entreated the L-rd…‘Pray let me cross over and see the good land’” [VaEschanan, beg.] in order to effect in the Jewish people the concept of seeing G-dliness, he succeeded in channeling the concept of seeing [G-dliness] to the Jewish people [at least] in a manner that transcended [their consciousness]. He did not channel to them the aspect of seeing in a way that they internalized – as reflected in the conclusion of that passage, “And now, O Israel, hearken to the statutes” [ibid 4:1], indicating that (internally [i.e., consciously]) they would [only] have the aspect of hearing [G-dliness] – however, also the aspect of seeing was channeled to them [but only] in a transcendent manner. [Likkutei Torah Parshas VaEschanan, beg. – see FN 29] 

Similarly we may say that with regard to Yaakov (close to his passing [FN 30: following the example of Moshe’s channeling [[G-dly abilities to the Jewish people] specifically close to the time of his passing (see Ohr HaTorah pg. 78)]), although the Sh’china withdrew from him – for which reason he subsequently said, “Gather and listen, son’s of Yaakov” – nevertheless, by saying, “gather and I shall tell you” [FN 31: which, in a general manner, was accomplished by his wish to reveal the keitz (“and I shall tell you”), but there still needed to be “Gather and listen” (as in the case with Moshe – that in addition to “I entreated,” he needed to see the land, at least from a distance (Likkutei Torah ibid 3d; Shaar HaT’shuva Vol. 2 30b ff.; Ohr HaTorah ibid))], he gave his children (and their descendants thereafter, until “the end of days”) the ability that through their Divine service they should arrive at the revelation of the keitz in [at least] a transcendent manner ([which amounts to] service of G-d free of [the impediments of] the gentile nations and the Evil Inclination [see FN 31*]).  

8. In Rashi’s commentary on our Torah portion, there are three aberrations from the wording of the Talmud: a) He leaves out the words, “(Yaakov wished to reveal) to his children”; b) he leaves out the word, “(the end of) days” (keitz ha’yamin) [sufficing to mention only “ha’keitz” (the end)]; c) he adds, “and he began saying other things” (which begs the following questions: 1) What is the significance of this supplement? 2) Why does he use the verbose expression, “and he began saying”?) 

We must, therefore, say that all of the above is necessary and precise for the purpose of expounding the literal reading of the text, which is the approach of Rashi in his commentary on the Torah. 

To answer in brief: a) Rashi comments here on the words, “and I shall tell you (v’agida lachem).” Thus, the context does not lend itself to reiterating the words, “to his children.” b) The difference between “keitz ha’yamim” and “keitz ha’yamin” [see FN 32] is not relevant here. Therefore, Rashi renders the term simply, “ha’keitz” (for even the Midrash on this verse explains [the expression, “acharis ha’yamim”] in this manner – certainly then this works for Rashi’s commentary, the literal reading of the text). Alternatively we may assert that according to the opinions of both the Midrash and Rashi, [the meaning of the terms] “keitz ha’yamim” and “keitz ha’yamin” is just that [i.e., ha’keitz, the time of the end of days] [see FN: 33]. c) The proof that Yaakov wished to reveal the keitz insofar as “I shall tell” (v’agida) signifies “words of wisdom” (as above Section 3) has no place in the literal interpretation, giving rise to the difficulty (as above Section 2, end): how is this innovation derived? Indeed, it is conceivable that Yaakov wanted to relate further details of “what will happen…in the end of days” in addition to those he had said before. It is for this reason that Rashi comments – after citing the words, “and I shall tell you,” to which we don’t find a continuation – that subsequently he began saying other things [FN 34: referring to all the blessings, including Shilo, the Messianic King. Therefore, it follows necessarily that “the end of days” mentioned here does not predate this time.] 

That is, the necessity of saying that there was a subsequent “beginning” is understood in the literal reading of the text (to the extent that Rashi does not need to explain it) from the fact that Yaakov said anew, “Gather, etc.,” as mentioned above in Section 2. 

9. This is also the lesson with regard to our personal service of G-d: There are those who consider the state of the world with regard to the [spiritual, moral, etc.] descent of the generations and say: How is it possible that our generation, this orphaned generation, should have a connection with the revelations of the future Redemption, revelations which the lofty, previous generations did not merit? [As the saying of our Sages goes] “The generation is worthy? the question is asked rhetorically.” 

In response to this comes the teaching that through Yaakov’s wish to reveal to his children keitz ha’yamin, the ability is granted to all the Jewish people in all times – from the time when “the Divine Presence withdrew from him” until the time of the greatest withdrawal and concealment of our generation, when the darkness is double and redoubled – that even now, the potential is always available to effect, in one hour and in one moment, the revelation of the keitz with the true and complete Redemption. 

In fact, those who argue that the generation is not worthy and etc. – this itself proves that now is the time for the revelation of the Messiah, as our Sages say that Moshiach will come b’hesech ha’daas (when we are not paying attention). That is, when people are situated in such a state that conscious awareness (daas) and intellect do not see any means whereby the Redemption could arrive, this “hesech ha’daas” is an obvious sign that the Redemption is nigh. 

This [saying of our Sages that Moshiach will come b’hesech ha’daas] is not intended to mean that one should not think about and eagerly anticipate the Redemption, G-d forbid, in order that there should be hesech ha’daas. On the contrary, an important principle of the faith of a Jew is that “I await his coming every day.” Rather, the intent is that notwithstanding the fact that conscious awareness and intellect do not perceive any means whereby this may occur, we believe it will with the force of faith that is beyond reason and intellect (daas). This is the service of “hesech ha’daas” [see FN 37]. And through this faith, the son of Dovid will arrive imminently. 

(From the address of Shabbos Parshas VaYechi 5725)

(From To reveal the secret of the end of days likkutei sichos, vol. 10, pg. 167-172 translated by Boruch Merkur  http://www.beismoshiach.org/_pdf/584.pdf



Date Delivered:   Reviewer:       
Date Modified:    Date Reviewed: