Prelude to Enslavement


parashas Vayechi 5781

“G-d will surely visit you, and bring you out of this land to the land which he swore to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob.”

– Genesis 50:24, Tanach Bible

The following is one reason given as to why this particular parashas (portion of the Torah) is referred to as “closed.” A closed parashas means that there is no space between the previous portion and the one in question. According to the Zohar, when Joseph’s father, Jacob, the patriarch of the children of Israel passed away, the eyes of Israel were closed. The meaning continues, as exemplified by the Zohar, inasmuch that the light of truth, represented by Jacob diminished at that time. The ensuing darkness of the exile began to influence the children of Israel as they slowly fell prey to assimilation.

Their condition and eventual enslavement by the ruler of Egypt several hundred years later, may serve as a warning to all who struggle against the encroachment of the zeitgeist upon the godly values of the faithful. To believe in G-d requires remaining faithful to Him. Despite any outward appearance to the contrary, the children of Israel remained faithful to G-d all of those years. Yet, the influence of the environmental milieu of Egypt brought them to a low place in their lives, gleaned from the description of the sages, that by the time of the Exodus, they had sunk to the forty-ninth level of impurity. Even so, Joseph’s words, pekod pekodti (G-d will remember you) continued to reverberate across the years.

Preceding the Final Redemption, many will have sunk to the fiftieth level of impurity, so like the Children of Israel in Egypt, we will have no other recourse, except to look towards the Final Redeemer in expectation of our redemption at that time. After the Children of Israel crossed through the Sea of Reeds, “they believed in the L-RD, and in Moses His servant” (Exodus 14:31). As we believe in G-d, we will also need to place our faith in the Final Redeemer as well, according to one of the thirteen principles of Maimonides, “I believe with perfect faith in the coming of the Messiah; and even though he may tarry, nonetheless, I wait every day for his coming.”

Published by Tzvi Fievel

I am Jewish, with an inclination towards chassidic teachings, customs, and prayer. My background as a Conservative Jew, served as a foundation for my later transition to becoming a ba'al teshuvah.

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