A Local Source of Energy – Parashat Vayechi

December 29, 2017 at 1:00 AM , , ,

“….And yosef died at the age of one hundred and ten years, and he was embalmed and placed in a coffin in Egypt….” – Bereishit 47:26

״….וימת יוסף בן מאה ועשר שנים ויחנטו אותו ויישם בארון במצרים…״ – בראשית מז, כו

Upon concluding the reading of any of the five books of the Torah, the entire community customarily calls out, “Chazak chazak v’nischazek! Be strong, be strong, and may we be strengthened!” – encouraging each other in the continued study of the Torah. Particularly, the reading which we conclude with the proclamation of “Chazak chazak v’nischazek” is the source of strength for the theme of the next book that we will soon begin studying.

israel-in-egypt

This raises an obvious question. The Book of Beraishis concludes with Yosef’s passing, and particularly, with the account of his body not being brought for immediate burial in the holy Land of Israel. Whereas his father Yaakov had demanded to be transferred to Israel for his burial, Yosef was embalmed and retained in Egypt, “the shame of the Earth,” instead. How could this conclusion be a source of strength and encouragement?

The answer is that Yosef’s interment in Egypt was, in fact, the greatest source for strength for the Jewish people during their exile in Egypt, and is likewise the most appropriate conclusion of the Book of Beraishis. The Book of Beraishis tells the story of the Patriarchs and Matriarchs, whose deeds serve to inspire and guide their descendants, particularly in the dark times of galus, exile. Additionally, we read of G-d’s promises that the Bnei Yisrael will not remain exiled forever and will ultimately come back even greater and richer than they had been before their exile. This serves to prepare the Jewish people to be able to endure their exile, as do the blessings of Yaakov toward the very end of the Book of Beraishis. Finally, in order for the Bnei Yisrael to survive and even thrive in the lengthy exile, it was necessary that they have not only promises and blessings and a legacy to aspire to, but an actually present and permanent source of strength to help them endure and overpower the darkness of galus (see Zohar vol. 1, p. 222b). This source of strength was the physical body of Yosef which remained with them in its entirety throughout the duration of their slavery.

Thus, Yosef’s burial in Egypt is indeed the most positive and empowering conclusion to the Book of Beraishis, as it gave the Jewish people the strength to withstand the difficult galus that lie ahead of them.

 

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—Likkutei Sichos vol. 25, pp. 476-479

 

 

 

 

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