Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Vayechi 5631 Third Ma'amar

After Ya’akov blesses each of his children the Torah tells us, “כָּל-אֵלֶּה שִׁבְטֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל שְׁנֵים עָשָׂר וְזֹאת אֲשֶׁר-דִּבֵּר לָהֶם אֲבִיהֶם וַיְבָרֶךְ אוֹתָם .../All these are the tribes of Israel, twelve in all, and this is what their father said to them and he blessed them …” Since this entire pasuk does not seem to be adding anything that we do not already know, what is it teaching us?

The Sfas Emes understands the whole pasuk homiletically. The Sfas Emes explains that this pasuk alludes to advice that Ya’akov Avinu gave his children to help them live their lives in the service of God. The Sfas Emes understands that the appearance of the words, אֵלֶּה/these and זֹאת/this, in the pasuk is particularly significant. The Zohar teaches that זֹאת/this represents the singular Godly life force which unites all. אֵלֶּה/These, on the other hand, is plural and represents differentiation. Even though the material world consists of multitudes of separate creations, the Godly life force that underlies all is singular. The word, דִּבֵּר/he spoke, as well, has a particular significance. In Aramaic the root דבר means to lead.

According to the Sfas Emes, Ya’akov Avinu is teaching his children that although the physical world to all appearances consists of many separate things, they should lead their lives and manage their affairs with an understanding that underlying everything physical is a point of inner spirituality. He wanted them to understand that the spiritual point, because it gives existence to the physical, is the main thing. Contemplating the spiritual underpinnings of whatever activity is before them will lead them to fulfill the will of God.

The pasuk, therefore, starts with אֵלֶּה/these, representing the way the world appears and ends with זֹאת/this, representing the way things are in reality. We, as well, can benefit from Ya’akov Avinu’s advice by recognizing the spiritual that is the basis for the material world including our very actions. It is the merit of this recognition that helps us to fulfill God’s will.


Anonymous said...

more on this at

Moshe David Tokayer said...

I couldn't find it. Which article on the Torah Lab site?