E 1. (48:5) Yakov blesses Yosef two sons, Efrayim and Menashe, that they will be like Reuven and Shimon, namely counted as part of the twelve shevotim. How can this be when Yakov himself already had twelve shevotim?
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Yosef and Yaakov Agreed On the Purpose of the BlessingsParshas Vayechi begins with the story of Yosef coming to Yaakov with his two sons, Menashe and Ephraim. And Yosef saw that his father placed his right hand on Ephraims head and it was evil in his eyes. And Yosef said, This is not correct my father, for this one is the first born. Place your right hand on his head. [Bereshis 48:17] We are familiar with the sequence of events. Yosef purposely put Menashe close to Yaakovs right hand and Yaakov purposely crossed his hands to place his right hand on Ephraims head and his left hand on Menashes head.
Yaakov refused to accept Yosefs correction and responded: I know my son, I know. He (Menashe) too will become a nation and he too will be great; however his younger brother will be greater than him and his descendants (fame) will fill the nations. [Bereshis 48:19]
Rav Yerucham Levovitz ztl provides an interesting insight into this dispute between father and son. Later
on in the parsha, the pasuk says: All these are the tribes of Israel twelve and this is what their father spoke to them and he blessed them; each according to his blessing he blessed them. [Bereishis 49:28] What does this last phrase each according to his blessing he blessed them mean? Rashi interprets the blessing that is destined to come upon each one.
Rav Yerucham elaborates: People make a mistake when they go to a Tzaddik for a blessing. They think that this righteous person has a box full of blessings and they ask him to give him one of the blessings from his box. This is not how it works. A bracha can only accomplish what the person already has within his own potential. A bracha cannot create something that does not exist.
Let us give an analogy. There is regular plant food and then there is a type plant food that is specifically produced for roses. When a person applies these nutrients to a rose bush, they will be able to grow lush and beautiful roses. If a person uses the same plant food (designed for roses) on daffodils, it is not going to work because this food is only designed to bring out
rose potential, not daffodil potential.
Likewise, explains Rav Yerucham, a Tzaddik cannot bless a person with blessings that he does not already potentially have within him. The bracha will simply not work! If someone does not have a good voice and he goes to a Tzaddik and says, I want to be a world class chazzan like Helfgot, he should not expect miracles. No Tzaddik can give a bracha to make a person who cannot carry a tune into a world-class chazzan. This is what it means when it says Yaakov blessed his sons each according to his blessing he blessed them. He only expressed the blessings - as Rashi remarks that each one was destined to already potentially have within themselves. It would not work
to give Zevulun the bracha that he should become a Yissachar or vice versa.
The purpose of a bracha is that the recipient should become what he already potentially is destined to become, no more and no less.
Yosef looked at his two sons and protested, Menashe is the first born. He should get the predominant blessing. Yaakov said, I know my son, I know - meaning I know something by Divine Inspiration (Ruach haKodesh) that you do not know. I know that despite their birth order, the younger son will become the greater of the two. I know through Ruach haKodesh that Ephraim has the greater potential. Therefore, I need to bless them in this fashion. It will simply not work to try to give the predominant bracha to Menashe.
Yosef and Yakov both realized that a bracha works only to bring out the potential. Yosef naturally assumed that being the first-born, Menashe automatically had the greater potential and should receive the predominant bracha. However, Yaakov realized prophetically that the greater potential resided with the younger brother, Ephraim.
Riddle of the WeekFind anywhere in this Parsha (Possuk or Rashi) reference to: 2 different foxes and a wolf
E 2. (48:20) Yakov says that the Jews will bless their sons to be like Efrayim and Menashe. Why do we bless our children to be like them more than any of the other shevotim?
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MY WEEKLY HALACHIC QUESTION
Rabbi Avi WiesenfeldRosh Kollel, Yerushalayim and Rav at Kav Halachah Beis Horaah
A Summary of the Halachos of Putting On, Wearing & Removing Tefillin Part 4AFTER PLACING THE SHEL ROSH
After putting on the shel rosh, the remaining winding of the strap on the hand and fingers [each according to his custom] should be
According to some Poskim, after wrapping the strap around the hand, one should insert the leftover strap into the wrappings to
keep it tight.2
REMOVING THE TEFILLIN
The tefillin should be removed whilst standing (acc. to ashkenazim). This includes the straps on the hand3.
The shel rosh should be removed with ones left hand, to demonstrate that it is difficult for him to part with the Mitzvah4. A
Left handed person removes it with his right hand.
One should first undo the wrappings around his fingers/hand and, according to some Poskim, 2-3 of the wrappings that are
around his arm5.
The shel yad should not be removed until the shel rosh has been put back into the bag. One must be especially aware of this on
On a Monday and Thursday, one should not remove his tefillin whilst the Sefer Torah is still out.
1 Shulchan Aruch 22:8, Mishnah Berurah 30.2 Vilna Gaon on Shulchan Aruch, Aruch Hashulchan.3 Shulchan Aruch 28:2, Magen Avraham 3, Graz 4, Mishnah Berurah 6.4 Mishnah Berurah.5 Elya Rabbah, Pri Megadim, Mishnah Berurah 5.6 Mishna Berura in the name of the Bach, Elya Rabbah.
It is best not to speak between removing the shel rosh and the shel yad. 7
The tefillin should not be removed or wrapped up during kaddish8.
PUTTING THE TEFILLIN BACK ON / IF THEY MOVED PLACE
If one removed his tefillin with the intention of putting them back on, e.g., before going to the bathroom, the halacha depends: if
one moved ones bowels, a new beracha must be made when
putting them back on, however, if one urinated acc. to many
Poskim, one must make a new beracha when putting them back
on9. However, some Poskim hold that one never makes a new
beracha, even when removing them to go to the bathroom10.
If the tefillin moved out of the correct place, even in a way that one thereby does not fulfill the mitzvah [e.g., part of the shel rosh
or the knot behind the head slipped under the hairline or the shel
yad slipped too close to the elbow], when one moves them back
to the correct position, a new beracha is not recited11.
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7 Ashel Avraham Butchatch 28.8 See Mishnah Berurah 56. One is meant to concentrate fully on answering to Kaddish.9 Bach, Taz 11, Graz 30, Chayei Adam, Rav Akiva Eiger, Kitzur Shulchan Aruch.10 Magen Avraham 22. The Pri Megadim also writes like this and claims the minhag is so.11 lthough the Shulchan Aruch and the Ramo write that one should make a beracha, most poskim
disagree. See the Mishnah Berurah that brings the Shlah hakadosh.
3. What date in the year did Yakov die on?
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And I have given you one portion over your brothers, which I took from the hand of the Amorite with my sword and with my bow. (Bereishis 48:22 - : )
Immediately after Yaakov gave the brochos to Ephraim and Menashe,
Yaakov tells Yosef that he will give him an extra portion in Eretz Yisrael.
Rashi comments that this was the portion of land destined for Eisav,
which Yaakov took from him. The end of the posuk says that Yaakov took
the land becharbi u ve