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VAYECHI - SHABBAT CHAZAK - REVEALING THE DEPTHS OF BOUNDARIES
By Rabbi Yonassan Biggs

-----

Shalom and Bracha!


This Shabbat we read the portion of Vayechi, which concludes the life of Yaakov, Yosef and Yaakov’s other sons in Egypt and is the prelude to the servitude that is discussed in next week’s portion. It also concludes the book of Breishit (Genesis).
The Shabbat in which we conclude a book of the Torah is called Shabbat Chazak. This is because at the conclusion of the reading the entire congregation says “Chazak Chazak V’nitchazaik” (Be strong, be strong and let us all be strong). This is because the Torah is the source of our strength and when we conclude one book and prepare to begin the next, we are fortified.


The timing of Shabbat Chazak is very apropos. This Thursday was the tenth of Tevet, which was the beginning of the siege upon Jerusalem that resulted in the destruction of the Temple. The Torah portion deals with the passing of Yaakov, the last of the forefathers, and of Yosef, who sustained and protected the Jewish people in Mitzrayim. The servitude only began when all of Yaakov’s sons passed on. We certainly need some encouragement! Shabbat Chazak arrives, and gives us a triple measure of strength to go forward.


The “strength” of Shabbat Chazak is in the portion itself. The portion begins Yaakov lived in Egypt seventeen years. The Baal Haturim explains that these were the best years of his life. Seventeen in Hebrew is the numerical value of Tov which means good. Kaballah teaches that there is a divine name Alef Hey Vav-Hey formed from the first letters of the Hebrew words Et Hashamayim V’et Haaretz (the heavens and the earth) in the narrative of creation. The numerical value of this name is seventeen. During these seventeen years Yaakov revealed the divine sparks of creation even in the depravity of Egypt. This empowered his children to survive and overcome the exile.
This is also reflected in the beginning of the portion. When Yoseph brought his sons to Yaakov to bless them, Yaakov gave the primary blessing to the younger son, Ephraim. Ephraim’s name is based on being fruitful in the land of affliction: the ability to illuminate and elevate the exile.


Before Yaakov’s passing, he gathered together his children. Rashi explains that he sought to reveal the “Keitz,” the secret of redemption. The simple meaning is that he wanted to tell them when and how the exile would end, but Hashem didn’t allow him to do so. In a deeper sense, in the words “revealing the Keitz” lays the secret to succeeding in exile.


The word Keitz means end, or boundary. Everything in this world is finite, and thus we perceive it as having a Keitz. Hashem is infinite. Revealing the Keitz means reaching deeper into each part of the world and into each moment in time and finding its infinite aspect. Every time we do a Mitzvah with an object, we reveal its infinite side, revealing its Keitz.


The word Keitz refers to the end of exile, the redemption. By seeing in every trial and tribulation that it is only a preparation, a step toward the final redemption, we reveal the Keitz. The conclusion of the portion is the passing of Yosef. Before he passed, he informed his brothers that Hashem would redeem the Jewish people from Egypt and requested that they should bring his bones to be buried in Israel, where they are currently interred in Sh’chem. As such, the event of his passing was the proclamation of the redemption and his very casket was a constant reminder of Hashem’s promise.


More so, when in every act we do we seek to hasten Moshiach’s coming, and we constantly pray for his arrival and improve ourselves and the world in anticipation of his arrival, we reveal the Keitz. By revealing the Keitz as Yaakov has taught us, this Shabbat will be a true source of strength.


The Rebbe has informed us that we are in the throes of the imminent redemption. May Hashem reveal the final Keitz immediately and true peace will reign throughout the world with the coming of Moshiach!

Shabbat Shalom,


Rabbi Biggs

Dedicated in memory of Shmuel Naman Alibayof. May his soul be bound in the bond of eternal life with Hashem and may he intercede for his loving family for tremendous blessings.

A Great New Year’s Resolution!
The Mitzvah of Tzedakah is a powerful conduit for Hashem’s blessings. Steady giving brings Hashem’s blessings for stability.

 

The Friendship Circle is a wonderful organization that helps handicapped and special needs children. In order to have the blessing of charity corresponding to the days of the year, many people have begun supporting the Friendship Circle with a dollar per day. In order to take part in this wonderful Mitzvah, please send payment information to makingeverydaycount@gmail.com

 

Your ongoing support will improve the quality of life of these very special children. For further information on the Friendship Circle please view http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=B5DVLDwntvo

A project of Chabad of Great Neck
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Great Neck NY 11024
516 4874554 fax 516 4874807


 
   
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