A Drash for Va-Yechi 5774 (2013)
by Marc Mangel
• Blessings, part 1: Israel [the God-wrestler] tells Joseph to bring his (Joseph’s) sons to him so that he (Israel) can bless them [Ch 48, v 9]. It worked ( vs 10-20), with the exception of a disagreement about who should be blessed first
• Blessings, part 2: Jacob [the materialistic not always mature person] calls his sons together as he is dying. The Rabbis [Pesachim 56b] say that Jacob was afraid that his sons would not continue to worship God, but they said “Shma Yisrael…” to which he responded “Baruch shem kvod…”
• Jacob plans to tell them ‘what will happen at the end of days’ (Ch 49, v1), but then he gives them ‘blessings’ (some are not very nice – Shimon and Levi are partners in crime) and says nothing about the end of days. What happened?
• Rabbis also say that God did not want Jacob to divulge what would happen at the end of days – when the Masiach comes – so God withdrew from Jacob/withdrew the gift of prophecy from him.
• What would be wrong with knowing when Masiach is coming?
• Well, if we know if Masiach is coming on a particular day, why bother to try to do anything to hasten it – Masiach is coming no matter what. Doing nothing for the wrong reason.
• Alternatively, knowing when Masiach will come will likely cause people to redouble their efforts to accrue merit through mitzvot so that they are higher in the world to come. Doing the right thing for the wrong reason.
• We need to do the right thing – mitzvot – for the right reason – to discover our distinct portion of the world that we are obligated to refine during our life and work at illuminating it, because as we do this we bring the coming of the Masiach closer, even if we don’t know when that is.
• Shalom Hanoch told us many years ago “Masiach lo ba, hu gam lo metalfen”. That’s the way it should be. And we should just keep at making this world a dwelling place for God.