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Friday, December 17

The Weekly Shtikle - Vayechi

Yesterday, 12 Teves, was the 14th yahrtzeit of Rabbi Joseph Schechter of Ner Yisrael. This week's shtikle is dedicated le'iluy nishmaso, Yoseif ben Eliezer Z'ev.


The Weekly Shtikle is dedicated le'iluy nishmas my father, Reuven Pinchas ben Chaim Yaakov, a"h.


The Weekly Shtikle is dedicated le'iluy nishmas my Oma, Chaya Sara bas Zecharia Chaim, a"h.

One of the more intriguing episodes in this week's parsha is that of the blessings given to Efrayim and Menasheh and all of the dialog that surrounds it. Nearly every child learns in school about Yaakov crossing his arms as he placed his right hand on Efrayim (although, according to Rabbeinu Bachye, he actually switched the position of the children.) The pasuk (48:14), however, recounts that Yaakov switched his hands "ki Menasheh habechor," because Menasheh was the first born. This phrase seems superfluous. Some commentaries (Ibn Ezra, Riv"a, Chizkuni) simply understand ki as "despite." He placed his right hand on Efrayim despite the fact that Menasheh was the firstborn. Chizkuni (as well as Rosh) offers another approach. Yaakov crossed his hands rather than just moving the children. Since Menasheh was indeed the firstborn, and so in order to still accord him some respect, he did not move his position.

Ohr HaChayim offers yet another interesting interpretation. Yaakov's sight had diminished and he was not able to discern on his own between the two children. It was because Menasheh was the firstborn that he knew Yosef must have placed him to his right. So that is indeed the reason he needed to switch his hands.

According to the flow of the pesukim, Yoseif objects to his father's hand placement after he delivers his famous blessing to the children. Why did he wait to object and not speak up right away? Interestingly, a number of commentaries (Ha'ameik Davar and Radak) actually understand that this exchange in fact occurred before the berachah was given. Ashich explains that initially, Yoseif saw this and assumed that Yaakov would give a special berachah to Efrayim and he was fine with that. However, after hearing that the berachah covered both children generally, only then did he believe that his father might have erred so it is only then that he objected.

Chazak, chazak, venischazeik!

Have a good Shabbos.

Eliezer Bulka

Shtikle Blog Weekly Roundup:

Dikdukian: You Make the Call: Aveil Mitzrayim

Daily Leaf:

            Ta'anis :כ"ז Similar Raffles

            Megilah: .ב No More, No Less

.ג What makes a Navi?

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