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Friday, December 29

The Weekly Shtikle - Vayechi

This past Sunday, 12 Teves, was the 16th yahrtzeit of Rabbi Joseph Schechter of Ner Yisrael. This week's shtikle is dedicated le'iluy nishmaso, Yoseif ben Eliezer Z'ev.


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 Chachma (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.  He was actually preceded by Netziv in Harchev Davar, although Meshech Chachma often gets the credit.


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, the sword "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.

Chazak Chazak veNischazeik!

Have a good Shabbos.

Eliezer Bulka

Shtikle Blog Weekly Roundup:
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