Devar Torah - Vayechi

Friday, 21 December, 2018 - 10:00 am

Chassidim are one Family: No one gets left behind, No one is forgotten.

By Rabbi Shimon Raichik 

In this week’s parsha Yaakov speaks with Yosef about his two sons, Ephraim and Menashe.  Yaakov says, “And now, [as for] your two sons, who were born to you in the land of Egypt, until I came to you, to the land of Egypt they are mine. Ephraim and Menashe shall be mine like Reuven and Shimon.” 

The Rebbe asks why Yaakov added the words “until I came to you, to the land of Egypt”. These words do not seem to add any meaning to Yaakov’s message and are self understood based on previous pasukim. The Rebbe answers that Yaakov viewed Yosef as an extension of himself. Yosef  educated his children in Mitzrayim in the ways of the Torah. By Yosef continuing in Yaakov’s ways with the same intensity warmth and inspiration as he received, notwithstanding the fact his children were born in the land of Mitzrayim, far from being in physical proximity to Yaakov; Yosef brought a completion to Yaakov and his purpose in this world.  Yaakov told Yosef, since you educated your two sons, who were born to you in the land of Egypt, until I came to you, to the land of Egypt; they are mine. Ephraim and Menashe shall be mine like Reuven and Shimon.

Yosef ran the great superpower of his time during an intense famine.  The needs for an entire nation and its environs laid squarely upon his shoulders. Nevertheless when he came home from work,  this home wasn't filled with politics of the day or his worries, it was focused on education. He used the time to expose his children to the warmth and inspiration of his father's teachings just as if his father were in the room. He had no Cheder nor a Mashpiah to send them to, nevertheless he persevered and was successful. His father, their grandfather Yaakov was alive with them in their home. This is the reason Yakov said; although I was not physically there, it was before i arrived in Mitzrayim, nevertheless they are the same to me as my very own children Reuven and Shimon.

When we learn this Sicha we realize the beauty of its insight. When, however, we take it personally it becomes a powerful lesson in  daily living. By continuing in the Rebbe’s ways, so many years after Gimmel Tammuz, sharing the warmth and inspiration of the Rebbe’s teachings and directives with a generation of our children and grandchildren who  never saw the Rebbe physically , we bring out a special and unique connection between our children ourselves and the Rebbe today. Through this transmission the Rebbe is alive today with us in our homes.

When I reflect on this it reminds me of my own upbringing. I look back upon my formative years growing up on Edinburg Avenue. We were far away from the Rebbe in Los Angeles a place which at the time lacked basic Jewish services. In those days you couldn't make regular trips to New York  nor were there live hookups yet to hear a fabrengen of the Rebbe to recharge. Nevertheless, our home was a hub of Torah, Chassidus and had an example of a living Chosid. Through their warmth dedication and self sacrifice my parents brought all of this into our home.

In our homes, by turning our focus from silly posts on social media or even the politics or latest palace intrigue in Washington (we aren’t going to change  a thing anyway) and instead focusing on the Rebbe and Chassidus, the Torah and mitzvos, soon soon may we witness the Rebbe say; these children, born to you in galus after Gimmel Tammuz are my children. We are waiting for that day, may it come immediately with Moshiach now.

A Good Shabbos.

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