(Genesis-47:28-50:26)

(Haftara: Kings I 2:1-12)

  1. [48:5] “…your two sons who were born to you in the land of Egypt…are mine…”

Yosef is considered like one of the fathers—like Avraham, Yitzchak and Ya’akov, and therefore he is not considered one of the tribes. On the other hand, Yehudah is considered the family of kings of Israel [49:10], but he is counted as one of the tribes. What accounts for Yosef’s greatness, and what accounts for Yehudah’s greatness? Who is greater—Yosef or Yehudah?

  1. [49:3] “…Reuven…you are my strength…unstable [OR ‘as fast’] as water”. Some commentaries see this as a positive quality and some see it as a negative quality. Some say that Reuven was unstable as water and some say that he was as fast and energetic as water. Both opinions quote events from Reuven’s life. Which explanation seems to be most faithful to the words of the pasuk ?
  1. [49:14] “Yissachar…crouching between the borders.” A number of commentators say that this means that Yissachar sleeps in unfamiliar places because he travels in order to teach Torah. What does this tell us about the Torah’s vision of teachers of Torah?
  1. [Haftara: Melachim I, 2:6] “Do not let his old head go down to the grave in peace.” Personal revenge is not allowed by the Torah, but apparently revenge for the sake of the community would be allowed. Isn’t this a dangerous distinction? Someone could justify his personal revenge by saying that it is for the good of the community. What are the positive and negative sides of this distinction?
  1. [Haftara: Melachim I, 2:7 ] “Show kindness for the sons of Barzilai the Gileadite and let them be among those that eat at your table…”   King David could have told Shlomo, his son, to make sure that Barzilai’s children are always financially stable, or that they are always protected. Why is the greatest kindness expressed by the fact that they will eat at Shlomo’s table?

Commentary

If one could only be worthy of hearing the songs and praises of the grasses—how each blade of grass sings a song to God without any ulterior motive and with total concentration, and expects nothing in return. How beautiful and pleasant it is when one hears their song, and it is very good to serve God among them.

–R. Nachman, 1772-1810, Breslov, Ukraine.

 

This study page is dedicated to the memory of Sarah Bella bat Yitzchak Kummer, Chaim Yosef Yechiel ben Eliyahu Kummer and Eliyahu and Margaret Kummer