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Friday, January 6

The Weekly Shtikle - Vayechi

Yesterday, 12 Teves, was the 15th yahrtzeit of Rabbi Joseph Schechter of Ner Yisroel. This week's shtikle is dedicated le'iluy nishmaso, Yoseif ben Eliezer Z'ev.


The following is a story told to me by a friend that directly pertains to this week's parsha. He heard it in a schmooze from R' Aharon Kahn in YU. R' Kahn tells that one day his rebbe approached him, grabbed him by the lapels and exclaimed, "It's refraction!" (For an explanation of refraction, see below.*)

"What is? What is?" he answered.

"Refraction," he repeated.

"What? What's refraction?"


The following was his explanation: Rashi explains (48:16) that the word veyidgu comes from the same root as the word dag, meaning fish. The blessing given to Efrayim and Menasheh is that they should multiply like the fish in the sea over which ayin hara, the evil eye, has no power. Why does the evil eye have no power over fish? The gemara (Sotah 36b) explains that the ayin hara has no power over fish because they are covered by water. The simple understanding could be that the water acts as a physical barrier to prevent the ayin hara. However, this rebbe explained that since fish are always in the water, when you look at them you are really not looking directly at the fish but rather, due to refraction, you are seeing some sort of distorted image of the fish and the image is somewhat shifted. Therefore, the evil eye has no power over them. Unbelievable!


*Refraction is the phenomenon that occurs when light passes through media of different densities. If the light passes through at an angle, the angle is slightly altered as it passes from one medium to the next, depending on their densities. This phenomenon is responsible for a pencil appearing bent when half of it is inserted into water and is also the concept behind eye glasses. 


Chazak, chazak, venischazeik!

Have a good Shabbos.

Eliezer Bulka

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