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Friday, January 13

The Weekly Shtikle - Vayechi

This past Tuesday, 12 Teves, was the yahrtzeit of Rabbi Joseph Schechter of Ner Yisrael. This week's shtikle is dedicated le'iluy nishmaso, Yoseif ben Eliezer Z'ev.

As well, the shtikle is also dedicated bizchus a refuah sheleimah for the following:

Tamar Adina bas Kayna Shulamis

Chana Faiga bas Shaindel Rachel

Yochanan ben Gella Rachel

Moshe ben Mirel


    In pasuk 48:22 Yaakov refers to what seems to be a certain piece of land that he captured "becharbi uvkashti." The simple translation of these words is "with my sword and my bow." However, Targum Onkelos translates "bitzlosi uv'vausi", with my prayer and my supplication. Meshech Chochma (Rabbi Meir Simcha of Dvinsk) explains the use of these two words as the translation of the words in the pasuk and the difference between the two types of prayer to which Onkelos refers.

    The word tzelosi refers to the regular prayers that have been specifically prescribed by the Anshei Keneses HaGedolah. The halachah regarding these prayers is that one does not require specific kavanah for these prayers to work. Therefore, it is the translation of charbi, sword. A sword is likewise used in close battle and requires little control in order to strike the target. For the most part, it "kills" in any circumstance.

    Ba'usi, which literally means "needs," refers to one's own personal prayers to HaShem outside of those daily prayers mentioned above. With these prayers one requires specific kavanah in order for them to be at all effective. Simply reciting the words is not enough. These prayers are likened to the keshes, the bow and arrow. Without a skilled shooter, it is ineffective and will more often than not miss its target. It requires specific aim in order for the arrow to reach its desired destination.

    Interestingly, the word uvkashti without its vowels may be read ubakashasi, and my requests. The word could just as easily have been vekashti, omitting repetition of the bais as a prefix. Perhaps the specific choice of words is a hint to Onkelos' interpretation.

Have a good Shabbos. Chazak Chazak veNischazeik!

Eliezer Bulka

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