December 18, 2021 – Parshas Vayechi

Week in Toronto

Shem Hagedolim Hachadash and the Tur HaAruch

Ateres Mordechai – Rabbi Bitterman

Noam Horowitz – Matt Schwartz

I purchased these two Seforim at the Lubavitch in Chabad Gate, the Shem Hagedolin Hachadash and the Tur HaAruch.

It is interesting to note that in the Shem Hagedolim Hachadosh’s face page,  the author’s name is not listed.  The Chida is listed.  This Sefer is a continuation of the Chida’s Sefer, Shem Hagedolim.  Rabbi Ahron Walden updated the Chida’s Sefer with a list of Rabbis and scholars where the Chida’s sefer ends.  The Chida died in 1806.

I was made aware of the Tur HaAruch through Sefaria.  I was overjoyed to obtain my own copy of this Reshon.

Spent this week in Toronto.   My mother in law is doing well.

December 17, 2021 – Friday night 

Davened in the building.  They require masks and the Gabbai lectured everyone.  Very distasteful.

Had a great meal with my mother- in-law. After the meal went to visit Yosef and Heather Kelman.  Yosef Kelman is Auntie Ruthie’s grandson.  Auntie Ruthie is my mother-in-law’s sister.  Yosef’s mother, Beverly, was my Shadchan. Yosef and Heather’s daughter is getting married in Lakewood during January 2022.   Heather is a runner and has corresponded with Beatie Duetsch.  We had running in common.     I found out that Heather grew up in Denver, CO.  In November I was in Denver for the 50th anniversary of Yeshiva Toras Chaim’s first graduation class and we spoke about Denver.   Yosef Kelman has a beautiful family and is doing well. The below is a picture of his mother in the high chair, his grandparents, Marvin and Ruth Lister, and his great grandparents, Rabbi Leibush and Zelda Bayla Noble.

Zelda Baila Noble (my mother-in-law’s mother), Ruth Noble-Lister, Rabbi Leibush Noble, with Beverley in the high chair.

December 18, 2021 – Shabbos Morning

Got up at 1:00 AM, read and learned Chumash.  Went back to sleep at 4:00 AM.  Got up at 8:00 AM.  Walked to Ateras Mordechai, Rabbi Bitterman is the Rabbi.  It was snowing and for me this was the first snow of the season.  The first snow of the season is beautiful and I felt joy, a lightness.  I was invited by Jason Lapidus to daven at his Shul.  I sat with the South African contingent at Ateres Mordechai.

The Shul is at 230 Arnold, a converted home.  I was invited there by Jason Lapidus.  They davened relatively slowly.  There was a Bar Mitzvah, last name of the family is Dabush.  The boy leined nicely.  His Bar Mitzvah speech was on the father’s Bracha of Bracha Sh’Petrani.   

Rabbi Bitterman spoke nicely on the following Verses 50:15-21, especially Verse 50:17. 

Verse 15 – וַיִּרְא֤וּ אֲחֵֽי־יוֹסֵף֙ כִּי־מֵ֣ת אֲבִיהֶ֔ם וַיֹּ֣אמְר֔וּ ל֥וּ יִשְׂטְמֵ֖נוּ יוֹסֵ֑ף וְהָשֵׁ֤ב יָשִׁיב֙ לָ֔נוּ אֵ֚ת כׇּל־הָ֣רָעָ֔ה אֲשֶׁ֥ר גָּמַ֖לְנוּ אֹתֽוֹ׃

Verse 16 – וַיְצַוּ֕וּ אֶל־יוֹסֵ֖ף לֵאמֹ֑ר אָבִ֣יךָ צִוָּ֔ה לִפְנֵ֥י מוֹת֖וֹ לֵאמֹֽר

Verse 17

כֹּֽה־תֹאמְר֣וּ לְיוֹסֵ֗ף אָ֣נָּ֡א שָׂ֣א נָ֠א פֶּ֣שַׁע אַחֶ֤יךָ וְחַטָּאתָם֙ כִּי־רָעָ֣ה גְמָל֔וּךָ וְעַתָּה֙ שָׂ֣א נָ֔א לְפֶ֥שַׁע עַבְדֵ֖י אֱלֹהֵ֣י אָבִ֑יךָ וַיֵּ֥בְךְּ יוֹסֵ֖ף בְּדַבְּרָ֥ם

אֵלָֽיו׃

Verse 18 – וַיֵּלְכוּ֙ גַּם־אֶחָ֔יו וַֽיִּפְּל֖וּ לְפָנָ֑יו וַיֹּ֣אמְר֔וּ הִנֶּ֥נּֽוּ לְךָ֖ לַעֲבָדִֽים

Verse 19 – וַיֹּ֧אמֶר אֲלֵהֶ֛ם יוֹסֵ֖ף אַל־תִּירָ֑אוּ כִּ֛י הֲתַ֥חַת אֱלֹהִ֖ים אָֽנִי

Verse 20 – וְאַתֶּ֕ם חֲשַׁבְתֶּ֥ם עָלַ֖י רָעָ֑ה אֱלֹהִים֙ חֲשָׁבָ֣הּ לְטֹבָ֔ה לְמַ֗עַן עֲשֹׂ֛ה כַּיּ֥וֹם הַזֶּ֖ה לְהַחֲיֹ֥ת עַם־רָֽב

Verse 21 – וְעַתָּה֙ אַל־תִּירָ֔אוּ אָנֹכִ֛י אֲכַלְכֵּ֥ל אֶתְכֶ֖ם וְאֶֽת־טַפְּכֶ֑ם וַיְנַחֵ֣ם אוֹתָ֔ם וַיְדַבֵּ֖ר עַל־לִבָּֽם

Rabbi Bitterman commented on Yosef’s crying.  Yosef cried because he realized that their fighting was so counterproductive.  He was responsible for the animosity.  How much was lost because they fought.  They did not grow and lost many opportunities to move forward.  People fight over nothing.  He mentioned a Rabbi Efraim Goldberg story, https://mishpacha.com/what-kind-of-friend/., how a little mistake can create major fights.   Rabbi Bitterman said how many family fights are over nothing and years later, people do not even know why they are fighting.    Rabbi Bitterman mentioned the story of Kamtza and Ben Kamitza.  

After the davening, I stayed for the Kiddush.  Delicious.  I sat across from Jason Lapidus, Sheldon Tennabaum, and Stan Vanik; and next to Douglas Chillovitz.  Douglas Chillovitz employed my nephew, Dovie Janowski.  Dovie’s mother told me that Doug Chillovitz is a nice guy and was good to Dovie.  I told them my Torah from this week that I learned in the early morning.

I ended up being the last to leave.   I looked around to find someone to walk with however, no one was around.  I started walking home.  On Atkinson near Clark I saw someone walking in the opposite direction, wearing a knit hat.  I stopped him and asked where he Davened this Shabbos morning.  He davened at Netivot.   I asked him if I could say over my Torah and he said yes.  I started and after a few minutes, I said that I do not want to hold him from his Shabbos meal.  He said no problem with me saying over the Torah and that he would walk me.  I asked, but you are walking the opposite way from your destination, and he said no problem.   He turned and  accompanied me.   After I finished my Vort we were at Clark and Hilda, across the street from my mother in law.  I was not sure if he was married and asked if he wanted to come over for lunch?  He told me that he is married and has four kids.  I apologized for making him late for his family meal.  He said no problem.   I asked his name and he is Noam Horowitz.  He is a Levi and from the Shelah Hakodesh.  He learned in the Gush.  I told him how much I love Rabbi Moshe Teragin,  https://mizrachi.org/speaker/rabbi-moshe-taragin/.   Rabbi Moshe Teragin is one of the few people in the world that can say Torah in perfect English, using the right descriptive words, being efficient while speaking, and able to teach and be understood.  Additionally, he teaches history while he speaks Torah.  I mentioned that my nephews learned at the Gush, Matt and Elyasaf Schwartz.  He responded, of course.  I am good friends with Matt and that they were also  together at YU.  His Rebbi was Rabbi Rosenzweig.  After Shabbos Matt told me that Noam Horowitz is a great guy, will do anything, has a great wife, and four cute kids.  Noam Schartz walking me, and going out of his way is Noam Horowitz.  He is an inspirational Rebbe.  Gevaldig.  I  met the only person who knows Matt Schwartz in Toronto.

Got to my mother in law, walking on a cloud. Had the Shabbos meal, cold cuts sandwiches.  

Torah #1 – the Theme of Yakov Kissing and being Kissed:

This week I focused on kissing.  It seems that more than anyone else in the Torah, kissing played a role in Yakov’s life.  How are we to understand this?  Is it just happenstance or is there something deeper.  

We find Yakov kissing or being kissed in the following six times:

1 – Yitzchok kissing Yakov when he blessed Yakov posing as Eisav.   Berehsis 17:27 –  וַיִּגַּשׁ֙ וַיִּשַּׁק־ל֔וֹ וַיָּ֛רַח אֶת־רֵ֥יחַ בְּגָדָ֖יו וַֽיְבָרְכֵ֑הוּ וַיֹּ֗אמֶר רְאֵה֙ רֵ֣יחַ בְּנִ֔י כְּרֵ֣יחַ שָׂדֶ֔ה אֲשֶׁ֥ר בֵּרְכ֖וֹ יְהֹוָֽה

2 – When he meets Rochel for the first time

Bereshis 29:11 – וַיִּשַּׁ֥ק יַעֲקֹ֖ב לְרָחֵ֑ל וַיִּשָּׂ֥א אֶת־קֹל֖וֹ וַיֵּֽבְךְּ׃.   Rashi comments on why Yakov cried and gives two reasons.    ויבך. לְפִי שֶׁצָּפָה בְרוּח הַקֹּדֶש שֶאֵינָהּ נִכְנֶסֶת עִמּוֹ לִקְבוּרָה. דָּ”אַ לְפִי שֶׁבָּא בְּיָדַיִם רֵקָנִיּוֹת; אָמַר, אֱלִיעֶזֶר עֶבֶד אֲבִי אַבָּא הָיוּ בְיָדָיו נְזָמִים וּצְמִידִים וּמִגְדָּנוֹת וַאֲנִי אֵין בְּיָדִי כְלוּם; לְפִי שֶׁרָדַף אֶלִיפַז בֶּן עֵשָׂו בְּמִצְוַת אָבִיו אַחֲרָיו לְהָרְגוֹ וְהִשִּׂיגוֹ, וּלְפִי שֶׁגָּדַל אֶלִיפַז בְּחֵיקוֹ שֶׁל יִצְחָק, מָשַׁךְ יָדָיו. אָמַר לוֹ מָה אֱעֱשֶׂה לַצִּוּוּי שֶׁל אַבָּא? אָמַר לוֹ יַעֲקֹב טֹל מַה שֶּׁבְּיָדִי, וְהֶעָנִי חָשׁוּב כַּמֵּת.

Both reasons are powerful.  Yakov found his soulmate, the love of his life, the one who he would give his everything to.  Rashi says that Yakov saw with his holy spirit that they would not be buried together.  Yakov’s kiss with Rochel was tragic.    Yakov sensed that something would happen that would get in the way of true happiness in marriage.  He cries over this impending darkness.  

3 – Lavan kissing and hugging Yakov.  Bereshis  29:13 – וַיְהִי֩ כִשְׁמֹ֨עַ לָבָ֜ן אֶת־שֵׁ֣מַע ׀ יַעֲקֹ֣ב בֶּן־אֲחֹת֗וֹ וַיָּ֤רׇץ לִקְרָאתוֹ֙ וַיְחַבֶּק־לוֹ֙ וַיְנַשֶּׁק־ל֔וֹ וַיְבִיאֵ֖הוּ אֶל־בֵּית֑וֹ וַיְסַפֵּ֣ר לְלָבָ֔ן אֵ֥ת כׇּל־הַדְּבָרִ֖ים הָאֵֽלֶּה.

Lavan kissed and hugged Yosef not out of love but to see if Yakov was hiding diamonds in his mouth and money around his chest.  Lavan reasoned that Eliezer, the servant of Avrohom, come with ten camels full of riches, so he thought Yakov would also be coming with great wealth,  Lavan did not see camels laden with riches, so he kissed and hugged to see if Yakov was hiding the wealth on his body  protecting it from thieves.  This kissing has an ulterior motive.  Yakov tells Lavan that he is penniless and the reason as Rashi says in 29:13.   .ויספר ללבן. שֶׁלֹּא בָא אֶלָּא מִתּוֹך אֹנֶס אָחִיו, וְשֶׁנָּטְלוּ מָמוֹנוֹ מִמֶּנּוּ

Yakov feels compelled to say what happened.  Not sure if Yakov admitted to taking the Brochos deceitfully, but he did reveal that Eisav wants to kill Yakov and he gave his money to Eliphaz.  Lavan got the upper hand, as Yakov is a pauper, estranged from his family.   He knew that Yakov did something to antagonize his brother and that Yakov could not go home.

This is another example of Yakov divulging too much information.  See my Torah from last year. 

4  – When Yosef revealed himself to his brothers, he kissed his brothers. 

        Bereshis 45:15 – וַיְנַשֵּׁ֥ק לְכׇל־אֶחָ֖יו וַיֵּ֣בְךְּ עֲלֵהֶ֑ם וְאַ֣חֲרֵי כֵ֔ן דִּבְּר֥וּ אֶחָ֖יו אִתּֽוֹ 

5 – hugging and kissing Ephraim and Menashe

         Bereshis 48:10 – וְעֵינֵ֤י יִשְׂרָאֵל֙ כָּבְד֣וּ מִזֹּ֔קֶן לֹ֥א יוּכַ֖ל לִרְא֑וֹת וַיַּגֵּ֤שׁ אֹתָם֙ אֵלָ֔יו וַיִּשַּׁ֥ק לָהֶ֖ם וַיְחַבֵּ֥ק לָהֶֽם

The Sferno says   –וישק להם ויחבק להם כדי שתדבק נפשו בהם ותחול עליהם ברכתו.

Translated as “the physical contact was designed to make Yaakov more attached to them so that his blessing would be correspondingly more effective.”

6  – when Yakov passes away.  Pasuk 50:1 – וַיִּפֹּ֥ל יוֹסֵ֖ף עַל־פְּנֵ֣י אָבִ֑יו וַיֵּ֥בְךְּ עָלָ֖יו וַיִּשַּׁק־לֽוֹ 

It does say in Verse 32:1  that Lavan kissed his daughters and grandchildren – וַיַּשְׁכֵּ֨ם לָבָ֜ן בַּבֹּ֗קֶר וַיְנַשֵּׁ֧ק לְבָנָ֛יו וְלִבְנוֹתָ֖יו וַיְבָ֣רֶךְ אֶתְהֶ֑ם וַיֵּ֛לֶךְ וַיָּ֥שׇׁב לָבָ֖ן לִמְקֹמֽוֹ׃, however, since it was not Yakov we will ignore it.

Let us trace Yakov’s life using the above mileposts.  

Yakov is kissed by his father and results in getting the blessings in a deceptive manner.  This is the beginning of the tragedy of Yakov’s life and is the סיבּה, the cause of all of Yakov’s trevails.  Yakov deceives his brother.  His brother swears revenge and Yakov has to flee.  As Yakov was making his way to Choron, he is overtaken by Eliphaz who is told to kill Yakov.  Yakov gives Eliphaz  all of his money and Yakov arrives at Choron penniless.  He does not arrive at his uncle’s home as the honored family member.  As a result he has to work for Lavan for seven years for Rochel’s hand in marriage.  Yakov is tricked to marry Leah and Leah’s justification is that Yakov tricked his own brother Eisav, saying whatever goes around, comes around.  Yakov is powerless to dictate anything because he arrived in a weakened position.    Had Yakov come with money, Yakov would have been treated as an honored guest and in all likelihood married Rochel immediately without any trickey and having to marry Leah.   Yakov sensed this tragedy when he kissed Rochel. All this traces itself back to when Yakov deceived his father.  

The dysfunction continues.  Yakov’s marriage to Leah created friction in his marriages  and between the brothers.  This friction leads to animosity and the animosity leads to the brothers selling Yosef and splitting the family.  Yosef is sold into slavery and Yakov does not see his beloved son for twenty two years.  During this time Yosef became monarch in Egypt.  Finally at age 130 father and son are reunited.   It takes a dramatic scene of Yosef revealing to his brothers that this despot, this Egyptian they were dealing with, is indeed their brother and Yosef kisses them and they cry.  This is the kiss of Godliness, of brotherhood, of unity.    

Yakov is now 130 years old and is able to live out the last seventeen years of his life in total peace and harmony.  As the Medresh Rabah says, 96:1, דָּבָר אַחֵר, לָמָּה הִיא סְתוּמָה מִפְּנֵי שֶׁסָּתַם מִמֶּנּוּ כָּל צָרוֹת שֶׁבָּעוֹלָם and the Kli Yakur elaborates:

 וללשון שלישי הדורש, לפי שנסתמו ממנו כל צרות שבעולם יאמר הכתוב אע״פ שהיה כל ימיו בצרה וגרות כמ״ש ימי מגורי ק״ל שנה מעט ורעים, מ״מ לגודל השלוה שהיה לו תוך י״ז שנים שראה ישיבת בניו בשלום ויאחזו בארץ ויפרו וירבו נשכחו ממנו כל הצרות הראשונות שעברו עליו והיו כלא היו, לכך נאמר ויהי ימי יעקב שני חייו קמ״ז שנה כי *אותן ק״ל שנים לא היו נחשבים מכלל ימי חייו לגודל צרותיו, ועכשיו למפרע נחשבו כולם שני חייו, וזה לפי שנסתמו ממנו כל הצרות שעברו וכאילו היה חי חיים נעימים ועריבים בכל שנותיו, שהרי באמת יוסף היה חי, לכך סמך ויחי יעקב אל הפסוק הקודם,              

The Kli Yakur is explaining the first pasuk on a deeper level than the plain meaning.  The plain meaning is that Yosef lived for 17 years in Egypt and his total life was 147 years.

                   *וַיְחִ֤י יַעֲקֹב֙ בְּאֶ֣רֶץ מִצְרַ֔יִם שְׁבַ֥ע עֶשְׂרֵ֖ה שָׁנָ֑ה וַיְהִ֤י יְמֵֽי־יַעֲקֹב֙ שְׁנֵ֣י חַיָּ֔יו שֶׁ֣בַע שָׁנִ֔ים וְאַרְבָּעִ֥ים וּמְאַ֖ת שָׁנָֽה 

               “Jacob lived seventeen years in the land of Egypt, so that the span of Jacob’s life came to one 

                hundred and forty-seven years.” 

    The Medresh and Kli Yakur are saying that Yakov’s life of 17 years in Egypt was in 

    such bliss and peace, that Yakov was able to forget the pain and

                suffering of the first 130 years of his life, so much so that he felt as if he lived for 147 years in

                goodness and sweetness.  To expand on this, Yakov felt that he did not live the first 130

                years.  He was tossed and turned by life and he had no control over life.   He could not smell 

                the roses and every breath he took was loaded with stress.  Once he went to Egypt and was

    supported by Yosef and surrounded by his other kids, did he feel alive.  He had a joy of

    waking up every day.   

Now that Yakov has had 17 years of life of peace and harmony, he is able to kiss his grandchildren with this same kiss of Godliness that Yitzchok blessed him with, however, that kiss ended in tragedy and Yakov kiss was full of light and ended in greatness for his grandchildren.  

As Yakov leaves this world, Yosef kisses his father, the kiss of one’s soul being bound up in another soul.

Torah #2:

The Tur HaAruch and understanding the kiss and hug Yakov gave to Ephraim and Menassha:

This past Tuesday I davend in Lubavitch on Chabad Gate in Toronto.    There is a bookstore in Lubavitch and they have many older Seforim on sale.  I picked up two Seforim that I was looking for for years.  One is a Shem Hagdolim Hachodesh by Rabbi Ahron Walden, published in 1864.  He has  two great paragraphs of a first person account of the Kotzker.  It is very poetic and draws on many Pesukim in which one has to understand.   I had Barnea Sellavan translate it.  The second is the Tur HaAruch.  I did not know that the Tur HaAruch existed until I saw it on Sefaria a number of years ago.  I was B’Simcha Gedolah when I found these Sefroima nd was able to purchase.

Torah on Verse 48:10.

#1 – The Tur HaAruch:

וְעֵינֵ֤י יִשְׂרָאֵל֙ כָּבְד֣וּ מִזֹּ֔קֶן לֹ֥א יוּכַ֖ל לִרְא֑וֹת וַיַּגֵּ֤שׁ אֹתָם֙ אֵלָ֔יו וַיִּשַּׁ֥ק לָהֶ֖ם וַיְחַבֵּ֥ק לָהֶֽם

This Pasuk is saying that Yakov was blind from old age and he (Yosef) brought Ephraim and  Menashe close to Yakov.  Yakov hugged and kissed them.

.

The Tur HaAruch says 

וישק להם ויחבק להם. שאין שכינה שורה אלא מתוך שמחה וכדרך שנעשה לו שאביו חבקו ונשקו כשברכו:

Yakov hugged and kissed his two grandchildren to create Simcha so that the Schinah should rest on him to bless his grandchildren, just like Yitzxhok kissed Yakov posing as Eisav.  However in Bereshis Verses 27:26 and 27:27 speaks to the kiss of Yakov, as follows:

.  

Bereshis 27:26 – וַיֹּ֥אמֶר אֵלָ֖יו יִצְחָ֣ק אָבִ֑יו גְּשָׁה־נָּ֥א וּשְׁקָה־לִּ֖י בְּנִֽי׃

Bereshis 27:27 –  וַיִּגַּשׁ֙ וַיִּשַּׁק־ל֔וֹ וַיָּ֛רַח אֶת־רֵ֥יחַ בְּגָדָ֖יו וַֽיְבָרְכֵ֑הוּ וַיֹּ֗אמֶר רְאֵה֙ רֵ֣יחַ בְּנִ֔י כְּרֵ֣יחַ שָׂדֶ֔ה אֲשֶׁ֥ר בֵּרְכ֖וֹ יְהֹוָֽה׃

Translated as:

And Yitzchok his father ssiad come close and kiss me, my son.   Yakov approaches and kisses his father and smells the smell of his clothes and he blesses him, saying see the smell of my son is that of a field that Hashem has blessed.

However, the Tur HaAruch does not say that Yitzchok’s kiss was done to create Simcha. The Tur HaAruch gives a very practical reason –    

גשה נא ושקה לי בני. אמר הנה שני סימנין בקול דומה ליעקב במשוש דומה לעשו אראה עוד סימן ג’ בבגדיו ויכריע בין 

ב’ סימנים ועל כן כשקרב אליו והריח ריח בגדי עשו ברכו:  

Yitzchok was not sure who was standing in front of him,  Yitzchok performed one more test to see if he has an earthy smell or would the person smell like Yakov, so he kissed him to test him.  Yirzchok was being practical.  Kissing his son, Yizchok smelled the smell of the field (not someone sitting in the Bais Medrash), confirmed in his mind it was Eisav and blessed him.  

We seem to have a contradiction in the Tur HaAruch.  In Breshis 27:27 the Tur HaAruch gave a practical reason for Yitzchok’s kiss, for a test;  however, in the week’s Sedra the Tur HaAruch refers back to Yitzchok’s kiss and said it generated Simcha.  Both kisses in VaYicha and in Toldos were for Simcha. 

The answer is that while true the purpose of the kiss was very practical, the outcome was that it created great Simcha.  What was the joy?  On a simple level you can say that Yakov felt he had proof that the person in front of him was Eisav and was now happy that he can give a Bracha to Eisav.   In both cases the kiss created joy, by Ephreim and Menashe he hugged and kissed to create joy, by Yitzchok the outcome of the kiss was joy and Yitzchok had clarity.  I think the answer is much deeper than this.  Yitzchok already had a good meal and wine.  Knowing with clarity would seem to bring some joy,  but not great joy.  

I think the Pshet is that Yitzhok’s kiss created unbelievable joy for him and this is what the Tur HaAruch is saying.  Everyone asks the question, what was Yitzchok thinking? He knew Eisav was an evil person, albeit mitigated by Eisav’s fulfillment of honoring his parents.    The mainstream answer said by Rabbi Aaron Solovechik in 1974 is that Yitzchok options were to either give the blessing to Eisav and teach Eisav to do good, after all Eisav excelled in the commandment of honoring one’s father and mother;  or give the Bracha to Yakov, who was physically and emotionally  weak, not equipped with the strength to be the foundation of the Jewish perople.  Yitzchok felt it is best to give the blessing to Eisav and Rivka understood the disaster that would occur if Eisav received the blessing. 

When Yitzchok kisses the person in front of him and smells a field, it is a field of blossoming floors, a touch of Gan Eden. As Rashi on this Pasuk says,

 “ ’וירח וגו AND HE SMELLED etc.— Surely there is no more offensive smell than that of washed goat-skins! But Scripture implicitly tells us that the perfume of the Garden of Eden entered the room with him (Genesis Rabbah 65:22)”  . 

The smell of blossoming flowers, enhanced by the smell of Gan Eden brought tremendous  Simcha to Yitzchok.   Yitzchok according to the  Tur HaArcuh has now confirmed in his mind that Eisav is standing in front of him ready to receive the blessing and Yitzchok smells Gan Eden.  Yitzchok is overjoyed.  He confirmed in his mind that he made the right decision, Eisav is the correct person to receive the blessing of the nation of Israel.  This was his great Simcha and this is the comparison between the two kisses, one in Toldos and the other in Vayechi.     

This is exactly what the Tur HaAruch is effectively saying in his next piece on the next Pasuk, which discusses the actual kiss.  

ראה ריח בני כריח שדה. פי’ ראה הוא הדבור במחשבת הלב שאמר בלבו ודאי עשו הוא זה שריח בגדיו מריחים כריח השדה פי’ כציצי הפרחים שהוא איש שדה וקלטו בגדיו ריח השדה ועל כן ברכו. וי”מ שהיה בגדיו מגומרים בבשמים הגדלים בשדה:

ראה ריח בני כריח שדה, “indeed the fragrance of my son is like the fragrance of the field.” The meaning of the word ראה here is that the expression does not reflect something Yitzchok saw with his eyes, but that this is what he observed internally, when thinking about what his son Esau’s presence projected. He felt that there could not be any doubt that of his two sons it was Esau who represented the fragrance of blossoming flowers and all the blessings associated with nature when it unfolds. This is why he determined to accord him the blessing. Other commentators see in this statement about the fragrance simply a reference to the perfume with which Esau sprayed his garments, something which matched what could be found in the field.

Torah #3 – Yakov’s blindness and kissing and hugging his two grandchildren are in the same Pasuk, Verse 48:10.  Is there a connection?

Bereshis 48:10 – וְעֵינֵ֤י יִשְׂרָאֵל֙ כָּבְד֣וּ מִזֹּ֔קֶן לֹ֥א יוּכַ֖ל לִרְא֑וֹת וַיַּגֵּ֤שׁ אֹתָם֙ אֵלָ֔יו וַיִּשַּׁ֥ק לָהֶ֖ם וַיְחַבֵּ֥ק לָהֶֽם

Pasuk is saying that Yakov was blind because of old age.  The same Pasuk that talks about his blindness also says Yakov hugged and kissed his two grandchildren.  There seems to be a connection. 

 I believe that the answer is based on the above Torah.  Kissing represents connecting to someone one a deep level, your soul’s touch one arbiter.  I believe that the juxtaposition of Yakov’s blindness and his kissing his two grandchildren is to tell us although a poor person and a blind person are both considered “dead”, when Yakov lost his money before going to Choron, this was “death” for Yakov.  This led to bad outcomes in Yakov’s life.  You can even say that Yitzchaks blindness also led to “death”, to the deception which defined UYakov’s life for years and not seeing Yakov for 22 years.   However, in this Parsha Yakov’s blindness did not result in “death”.  Yakov saw and radiated light.  He woke up every day with joy knowing that he had another day to be with his family, to learn Torah with his grandchildren.  He was able to kiss and hug his grandchildren to pass on Yakov’s neshama of purity and holiness.  

An alternative explanation  and other Reshonim discussing Yakov’s blindness.  

The Ohr Hachaim is bothered by this connection and says:

ועיני ישראל וגו’. צריך לדעת למה כתיב הודעה זו במקום זה, ומה קשר ושייכות לדבר זה עם הסמוך לו וישק להם ויחבק להם. עוד צריך לדעת אומרו להם שהיה לו לומר וישק אותם. ואולי ששני דקדוקים אלו כל אחת מתרצת חברתה כי לצד שכבדו עיניו מזוקן היה מחבק שלא במקום החיבוק ומנשק שלא במקום הנישוק ולזה אמר להם ולא אמר אותם והבן:

Israel’s eyes were heavy with old age, etc. Why did the Torah choose this point to inform us of Jacob’s failing eyesight? What does it have to do with his proceeding to embrace and kiss Joseph’s children? Besides, why did the Torah have to describe these kisses as להם instead of אותם? Perhaps one of these details will help us understand the other detail. Jacob embraced the children in the wrong places and kissed them in the wrong places due to his failing eyesight. If that were true the expression להם instead of אותם is quite understandable.

The Ohr Hachaim’s explanation leaves us wanting more.

 Contrast Yakov blindness to Yitzchok’s, Verse 27:1

וַֽיְהִי֙ כִּֽי־זָקֵ֣ן יִצְחָ֔ק וַתִּכְהֶ֥יןָ עֵינָ֖יו מֵרְאֹ֑ת וַיִּקְרָ֞א אֶת־עֵשָׂ֣ו ׀ בְּנ֣וֹ הַגָּדֹ֗ל וַיֹּ֤אמֶר אֵלָיו֙ בְּנִ֔י וַיֹּ֥אמֶר אֵלָ֖יו הִנֵּֽנִי׃

Rashi says ותכהין. בַּעֲשָׁנָן שֶׁל אֵלּוּ. דָּ”אַ כְּשֶׁנֶּעֱקַד עַ”גַּ הַמִּזְבֵּחַ וְהָיָה אָבִיו רוֹצֶה לְשָׁחֳטוֹ, בְּאוֹתָהּ שָׁעָה נִפְתְּחוּ הַשָּׁמַיִם וְרָאוּ-  מַלְאֲכֵי הַשָּׁרֵת וְהָיוּ בוֹכִים, וְיָרְדוּ דִמְעוֹתֵיהֶם וְנָפְלוּ עַל עֵינָיו, לְפִיכָךְ כָּהוּ עֵינָיו. דָּ”אַ כְּדֵי שֶׁיִּטֹּל יַעֲקֹב אֶת הַבְּרָכוֹת 

Notice that Rashi does not say that he lost his sight due to old age, even though the Pasuk says he was  old. The Rashban says that Yitzchok did lose his sight because of old age.

Rashbam –  ותכהין עיניו – מן הזקנה, כמו שמצינו בספר שמואל: ועיניו החלו כהות.

The Netziv in his Hemek Dvar and others say that Yitzchok was only 127 and he was not old enough to lose his sight from age, rather there is another reason.

ותכהין עיניו מראות. אין לפרש שהזקנה גרמה זאת שהרי לא הי׳ זקן כ״כ לפי ערך ימי חייו. שהי׳ חי עוד ששים שנה. אלא סיבה הי׳ מן השמים. וכמבואר עוד ברבה הרבה טעמים וגם דקדקו לשון מראות שהוא מיותר אלא נרמז בזה הסיבה לכך וא״כ צריך לפרש ויהי כי זקן יצחק אירע סיבה שכהו עיניו. אבל הזקנה גרמה לו לחשוב מחשבות כי קרבו ימיו שהוא בעצמו לא שיער שהוא סיבה מן השמים. אלא חשב כי סוף ימיו המה

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Trip to YU

CHANI’S GRADUATION

TOUR OF YESHIVA UNIVERSITY

VISIT AUNT  SHIRLEY MAZA

MONDAY – MAY 14th 2018:

  • 1:00 PM – Arrived at Midway for my flight to LaGuardia.  Very excited. I have a carry-on case and a suit bag. I took two suitcases for Chani to bring things home.
  • 4:00 PM – Arrived at LaGuardia.  Netanel, Karen’s kid, picked me up.  We had a long bumper to bumper drive to my cousin, Avi Maza, in Highland Park, NJ. (Our mothers are sisters.)  Received a call from my co-worker that he is leaving MB. Big blow.
  • 7:00 PM – Arrived at Avi’s house.  His wife served us a delicious supper: chicken, turkey, soup, rice, salad, hot dogs.   We met Avi’s kids. Netanel talked about his college experience at Queen’s college.  Netanel sparkled.   Avi’s daughter is not sure where she will go to college and they talked about the options.  Went to Mincha at Congregation Ahavas Achim.
  • 8:00 PM – Went to visit my Aunt Shirley.  She is in her mid 90s and lives two blocks from her son.   Spent 20 minutes visiting with Aunt Shirley. I have not seen her for well over 5 years.  We caught up on old times. I called my mother and put her on the phone with Shirley. Aunt Shirley and her husband, Rabbi Yosef Maza TZL, would come into every Simcha and I miss seeing her.  She is the life of the party. I love her family. Her ability to play Jewish geography was unsurpassed. It was important for me to go and I thank God that he allowed me the opportunity to visit.   My daughter’s three years going to Stern College and my paying full tuition for all three years was worth it just so that I could come into her graduation and visit Aunt Shirley. I still regret my loss that when my Uncle Yosef Maza, was ill, I did not visit and stay with him for a Shabbos.

Only in New York/Brooklyn – Driving on the BQE through Williamsburg, a Seforim seller sets up his wares on the overpass.  How does he move it at night or when it rains?

  • 9:00 PM – davened Maariv and went back to Avi’s house.  I was a pleasant mid-May evening so we sat on his deck and talked.  I never realized how we had some similar life experiences.

  • 10:00 PM – went downstairs and slept in a very comfortable bed.

TUESDAY – MAY 15th – YU CAMPUS VISIT:

Rosh Chodesh Sivan.  

  • 6:45 PM – davened Schachris.  Had Rice Chex for breakfast with Avi.

One of my nephew’s, Matt Schwartz arranged for me to have a day at YU.   I am excited. The day’s schedule is as follows:

  • 9:45 AM – Rabbi Schwarzberg picked me up to drive me to YU.  He is the director the YU’s job placement office for Rabbis and Kollel members.  We had a great one hour trip. We played Jewish geography. Rabbi Schwarzberg knows everyone.  He is great for his job. Rabbi Schwartzberg was the former Rabbi at Ahavas Achim, the main Shul in Highland Park.  On Shavous he plans to speak about running in Halacha. I told him my vision for YU. They should open up Yeshivas based on YU Hashkafah, meaning Torah Al Pi Brisk, with a healthy sense of the world around them.   They should use their Talmedai Chachomin and open up Kolleliem similar to Lakewood Kolleliem. Boca Raton needs a Kollel. Rabbi Reichman, Rabbi in Englewood, New Jersey should be set up with a Kollel and eventually a Yeshiva.   He told me the issues. I feel that despite them, it should be done.

We talked about the greatness of Rabbi Aaron Rakeffet-Rothkoff, Rabbi Herschel Reichman, Rabbi Korobkin, Rabbi Dovid Hirsch and other YU Rosh Yeshivas.  I told him about Michael Parker’s Bar Mitzvah. I told him how I spent a beautiful Shabbos in Toronto when Rabbi Rakeffet-Rothkoff was a scholar in residence.    I heard Rabbi Rakeffet-Rothkopff speak Friday night, Shabbos morning, and Mincha. I found out were he was eating the Shabbos meal and I popped into the house. It was by the Zeifmans.   Zeifmans’ accounting company is used by my wife’s family and he knows my family. After Shabbos, I made sure to get a ride home with Rabbi Rakeffet-Rothkoff.

I admire Rabbi Schwarzberg.  He advised a Rabbi not to sign on a nonsense Kol Korah against a well respected friends of ours.  Unfortunately there is a tendency by some to hurt people they do not agree with and justify it religiously.  The Kotzker has a Vort on this.

  • 10:45 AM – arrive at YU and went to my nephew’s office in the admissions office.
  • 11:05 AM – Put down my things and went to Rabbi Baruch Simon’s Shiur on Maaser Kesafim.  Met Amos Weiss, who is retired and is a permeant student at YU.
  • 12:00 PM – went to Rabbi Herschel Schechter’s Shiur on the laws of Geirus.  He spoke on various questions of conversion. I introduced myself to him and we talked.
  • 1:15 PM – went to Rabbi Yaakov Neuberger’s Shiur on eating diary on Shavous.  I spoke to him after the Shiur. We spoke about Kotzk.
  • 2:30 PM – davened Mincah.  Saw Rabbi Reiss and said hello.  Saw Rabbi Dovid Hirsch and said hello.  Rabbi Yaakov Blau came over the said hello.
  • 3:30 PM – went with Matt Schwartz to the Golan Heights for lunch.  Chani made it to YU for our visit. Bought a Falafel. Saw a group of 5 guys sitting outside the restaurant.  The leader of the group, Danielli, was a teacher at YU and taught Jewish history and was from Toronto. Knows the Janowskis and davens on occasion at the Baytt.   Told them a Kokzker story.
  • 4:00 PM – took lunch back to Matt’s office.  The Falafel was delicious.
  • 4:50 PM – went to Belfer Hall to meet with the President of YU, Rabbi Ari Berman.  Outside the president’s office with Rabbi Ari Lamm. Ari Lamm was in Chicago a few weeks earlier and I attended his Shiur on Paul of Tarsis.  I told him that what I got out of if was that Rabbi Yaakov Emden wrote about Paul and understood that Paul was not out to make Jews Christians.  Paul was speaking to Christians. Rabbi Yaakov Emden was Malamud Zechoz on Paul. Rabbi Yaakov Emden was intellectually curious and honest. It appears that Rabbi Yaakov Emden actually read Paul in the New Testament.
  • 5:05 PM – met with Rabbi Ari Berman.  Matt and Chani were with me. I had wanted to talk about my vision for YU.   However, I only had 5 minutes and he does not need me to “Hoch him a Kop”. Rabbi Berman had been in Israel the day before for the openings of the US Embassy in Jerusalem.  He also had an evening event and graduation the next day. I asked him if he is related to Rabbi Berman head of the OU’s office in Jerusalem on Keren Hayesod. He said no and that over the years they received each other’s mail. He met the other Rabbi Berman in Israel the day before for the first time.
  • 5:25 PM – met Michael Strauss, interim dean of the Sy Syms Schools of Business.   He worked for American Express for many years before retiring and going over to YU.
  • 5:45 PM – Tour is over.  Had an exhausting, but rewarding day at YU.
  • 6:15 PM got a ride with Matt’s friend to Chani’s dorm.
  • 10:00 PM – Rivkie Morgenstern-Siegal came in for Chani’s graduation and we went to dinner at the Eden Wok.  Chani had $45 on her restaurant card. Had sushi and some of Rvikie’s rice noodles. Delicious, but very unhealthy.
  • 9:30 PM – took a Lyft to the Ramada Hotel near Newark airport.  $90 Lyft ride.
  • 11:30 PM – sleep.

Costs – Ramada – $400

             Lyft rides – $126

WEDNESDAY – MAY 16, 2018 – GRADUATION DAY:

  • 7:00 AM – woke up with great excitement.  Today is graduation day. Not only is Chani Morgenstern graduating, but Karen’s kid, Matt Schwartz, is also graduating with a Masters Degree in Business.
  • 7:30 AM – went to the workout room.   Met the Ginzburgs from Silver Spring, Maryland.   Their son is graduating.
  • 8:15 AM – went to Chani’s room to see if I can be of help.  I ironed her graduation gown.
  • 8:45 AM – went to my room to get ready.
  • 9:45 AM – brought our luggage down and ordered a LYFT
  • 10:15 AM – arrived at the Prudential Center where the New Jersey Devils play.  So exciting. I was pumped up. Came later then I wanted. Found seats towards the front of the stadium, about 20 rows up on the women’s side.  I would have preferred seats within the first 5 rows. Karen and Netanel came soon thereafter, with Amitai coming later.

About 10 minutes after we found our seats, the processional started with the playing of Pomp and Circumstance.  I wanted it louder. We looked for Chani and finally she was walking. She sat in the fourth row towards the right sideline.  We waved and she waved back. She decorated the top of her cap with the words, Thank you Ma and Ta, so it was easy to always see her.

The program was opened with the singing of the national anthem.  Ambassador Danny Danon, Israeli Ambassador to the UN, was conferred an Honorary Degree.  He was the guest speaker. Former President Ricard Joel was also awarded an Honorary Degree.  There was the valedictorian address and a video of the co-valedictorians. Lastly, President Rabbi Ari Berman spoke.   I will say that during some of the speeches, nobody was listening. I walked out during one of the speeches and walked around.  Many people were outside. Look who I found outside.

 I ate inside. Netanel made me oatmeal, which as you can see, I enjoyed.

Time for the Conferring of Degrees and Diplomas.  The graduate degrees were awarded first. They did not call out each graduate.  One person represented the class and was presented with a degree. Matt Schwartz represented his class and he was mentioned by name.  Time for the Undergraduates. They called out each graduate as the graduate walked across the stage. Each one took a picture with President Ari Berman.

With that the graduation was over.  Very satisfying. I met Ranan Sugarman whose son was graduating. I met a Sofer from LA, Ron Sieger.  Comes out their daughter was with Chani in Michlala in Israel.

  • 12:45 PM:  davened Schachris in the parking lot.  I left my Tefilin in a suitcase that Netanel Schwartz had in his car.  
  • 1:00 PM -I texted Avi Maza for a suggestion where we can eat and celebrate with family.  He suggested the Green Chickpea, www.greenchicpea.com.   It was perfect.  It was 15 minutes from the Prudential Center.  Karen, Netanel, Matt, myself and Chani walked in and the place was packed.  Amitai Schwartz was at the graduation but could not make it for lunch. My Rebbe, Rabbi Tzvi Hersh Weinreb, was at the restaurant with his family.  His grandson graduated. Additionally, Karen knows Mrs. Weinreb’s sister. I hugged Rabbi Avrohom Kivilevitz. His daughter graduated. I haven’t seen him in 15 years since the left Chicago.  He is the Mashgiach and works at IDT in Newark. I met a family from Springfield, MA. Chani met a friend who is from Chicago.
  • 6:00 PM – Netanel dropped us off at Brookdale, Chani’s dorm.  Chani had to pack for the trip home. It took longer than expected and we left at 7:35 PM for LaGuardia to catch an 8:55 PM flight to Chicago.  We got to the airport at 8:12 PM and I was resigned to missing the flight. Initially we waited in line outside to check out baggage. After 10 minutes we were told to go inside as we came too late.  We were in line for another 10 minutes. Chani had to re-arrange her luggage so as not to be overweight in one of the suitcases and not pay the $75.00 overweight fee. The third suitcase was 62 pounds and we had to pay $75.00.  We had to take the luggage to the X-ray machine and then go through security. The line was short. We made it to the flight at 8:50 PM. Luckily, the flight was delayed and they did not start boarding until 9:00 PM.  Boruch Hashem we made the flight.  Waiting in line I met a couple flying to Chicago for Shavous. I know their son-in-law and was happy to do the family a favor. I offered them a ride home from Midway. They took me up on my offer. I was nervous because we had 5 suitcases and was afraid we would not have enough room in the car.  As luck would have it, three of our suitcases did not make it on the flight so we had plenty of room in the car. My three suitcases came in the next day at 9:30 AM. I was at the airport to pick up my kids who were coming in for Shavous, so I did not have to make a special trip to the airport. It was Siatta Dishmaya.