Friday, December 14, 2007

VaYigash 5631 Third Ma'amar

When Ya’akov and Yosef met after twenty two years the pasuk relates that Yosef fell on his neck and cried. The pasuk does not tell us that Ya’akov reciprocated. It seems that Ya’akov, in fact, did not reciprocate otherwise the pasuk would have told us this just like it does when describing the meeting of Yosef and Binyomin. What, then, was Ya’akov doing at this very moving moment? Rashi cites Chazal who tell us that Ya’akov was reciting kri’as Shma.

Why was Ya’akov reciting kri’as Shma at this time? The Maharal explains that when Ya’akov saw Yosef – whom he thought was dead or captured – king over Egypt, he was filled with gratitude towards God. Ya’akov was moved to recite kri’as Shma to express his awe and love for God.

Why, then, did not Yosef recite kri’as Shma as well? The Chidushei HaRim explains that this points up a fundamental difference between Ya’akov’s level of spirituality and Yosef’s level. Yosef lived in the king’s house. Yosef, was occupied with activities of the material world, even as he was totally connected to God. Yosef, as one occupied with matters of the material world was able to kiss his father. Ya’akov, on the other hand, was on a level above the material world. [See VaYeitzei 5631 First Ma’amar] Therefore he attached to God through kri’as Shma and was unable to kiss Yosef.

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