Vayechi- Shabbat Chazak-Reaching
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Levanah may be recited until
January 09, 2012 1:42 AM
Shalom and Bracha!
This Shabbat we read the portion of Vayechi, which concludes the
life of Yaakov, Yosef and Yaakov’s other sons in Egypt and is
the prelude to the servitude that is discussed in next week’s
portion. It also concludes the book of Breishit (Genesis).
The Shabbat in which we conclude a book of the Torah is called
Shabbat Chazak. This is because at the conclusion of the reading
the entire congregation says “Chazak Chazak V’nitchazaik” (Be
strong, be strong, and let us all be strong). This is because
the Torah is the source of our strength and when we conclude one
book and prepare to begin the next, we are fortified.
The timing of Shabbat Chazak is very apropos. This Thursday,
January 5th marks the tenth of Tevet, which was the
beginning of the siege upon Jerusalem that resulted in the
destruction of the Temple. The Torah portion deals with the
passing of Yaakov, the last of the forefathers, and of Yosef,
who sustained and protected the Jewish people in Mitzrayim. The
servitude only began when all of Yaakov’s sons passed on. We
certainly need some encouragement! Shabbat Chazak arrives, and
gives us a triple measure of strength to go forward.
The “strength” of Shabbat Chazak is in the portion itself. The
portion begins Yaakov lived in Egypt seventeen years. The Baal
Haturim explains that these were the best years of his life.
Seventeen in Hebrew is the numerical value of Tov which means
good. Kaballah teaches that there is a divine name Alef Hey Vav-Hey
formed from the first letters of the Hebrew words Et Hashamayim
V’et Haaretz (the heavens and the earth) in the narrative of
creation. The numerical value of this name is seventeen. During
these seventeen years Yaakov revealed the divine sparks of
creation even in the depravity of Egypt. This empowered his
children to survive and overcome the exile.
Before Yaakov’s passing, he gathered together his children.
Rashi explains that he sought to reveal the “Keitz,” the secret
of redemption. The simple meaning is that he wanted to tell them
when and how the exile would end, but Hashem didn’t allow him to
do so. In a deeper sense, in the words “revealing the Keitz”
lays the secret to succeeding in exile.
The word Keitz means end, or boundary. Everything in this world
is finite, and thus we perceive it as having a Keitz. Hashem is
infinite. Revealing the Keitz means reaching deeper into each
part of the world and into each moment in time and finding its
infinite aspect. Every time we do a Mitzvah with an object, we
reveal its infinite side, revealing its Keitz.
Once a couple visited had a daughter who could not speak. After
visiting numerous doctors to no avail, they sought the Rebbe’s
blessing although they were skeptical of the value. The Rebbe
asked if she would be willing to light Shabbat candles in the
proper time in exchange for the gift of speech. Her father
responded yes. The Rebbe insisted he wanted her to answer. To
the amazement of her parents she said yes. Her mother
asked in astonishment is the Rebbe some great doctor or
professor? The Rebbe responded that the inability to speak was
from the limits of nature. By accepting a Mitzvah their daughter
connected herself with the infinite.
The word Keitz refers to the end of exile, the redemption. By
seeing in every trial and tribulation that it is only a
preparation, a step toward the final redemption, we reveal the
Keitz. The conclusion of the portion is the passing of Yosef.
Before he passed, he informed his brothers that Hashem would
redeem the Jewish people from Egypt and requested that they
should bring his bones to be buried in Israel, where they are
currently interred in Sh’chem. As such, the event of his passing
was the proclamation of the redemption and the presence casket
was a constant reminder of Hashem’s promise.
More so, when in every act we do we seek to hasten Moshiach’s
coming, and we constantly pray for his arrival and improve
ourselves and the world in anticipation of his arrival, we
reveal the Keitz. By revealing the Keitz as Yaakov has taught
us, this Shabbat will be a true source of strength.
The Rebbe has informed us that we are in the throes of the
imminent redemption. May Hashem reveal the final Keitz
immediately and true peace will reign throughout the world with
the coming of Moshiach!
Dedicated to Corey and Joey Franco
project of Chabad of Great Neck
East Shore Rd.
Great Neck NY 11024
4874554 fax 516 4874807