Midreshet Amit

Torah

Back to Main Page

Unity

By: Rav Jonny Friedman

 
There is one theme I would like to focus on in the Parsha which may have direct ramifications for bringing about the Geulah, the final redemption, hopefully this evening. We read in the 49th Chapter of Breishis, in Parshas Vayechi,
 
֥ ֖ ֑ ֗ ֙ ֣ ֔ ֛ ֥ ֖ ֥
 
And Jacob called his sons and said, “Come together that I may tell you what is to befall you in days to come.
 
If you join together, I will reveal to you that which will happen to you at the end of days. What does joining together have to do with the fact that Yaakov will now reveal to them what is going to happen at the end of days?  According to one reading in the midrash, Yaakov is teaching them the secret of Mashiach! What is the secret of redemption? Bringing everyone together. If you accomplish “He’asfu,” “coming together,” if you will join together all the many children and tribes, then you are on the pathway to “Acharis Hayamim,” the road to the eschatological perception and prophesies of the great fixing of the world. For as long as we separate from each other and not working together in unison, it is a clear sign that there is no “Acharis Hayamim” vision. But the moment we get to “He’asfu,” if we could join together, we would bring the redemption. Everyone being brought together does not mean that we all have to be the same. We could all join together and Reuven could remain Reuven, Shimon can be Shimon, and Levi can still be Levi. Everyone can express themselves in their own ways! But we have to be together. First we need “He’asfu” and then we will get to “Acharis Hayamim.” According to the Midrash, Yaakov calls together his children and he teaches them the following (Bereishis Rabbah 98):
 
: . : ,
  , ' ' , , .
 
He taught them, commanded them to distance themselves from disputation and from fighting with each other. Join together!
 
I believe that one of the messages that we have to learn from Parshas Vayechi is that there is legitimacy in all the tribes, which is the reason why Yaakov calls each one, blesses each one, and tries to guide each one. Nevertheless, besides the fact that you have individual needs and individual tribes, you are all part of the family of Israel. It says in several places in the Midrash that when the Jewish people are together, even if they are involved in sinfulness, there is a certain Divine level of protection, as it says (Bereishis Rabbah 38):
 
( , ):
 
Ephraim is joint for idolatry. (Hosea 4:17)
 
The simple interpretation is that the Jews were so connected to idolatry that they are hopeless, and therefore one should not bother with them. The Rabbis says, “Chavur Ephraim,” if am Yisroel is “Chavur,” joined together, even if there is “Atzavim,” idorlatry, “Hanach Lo,” let him be. There is a Rabbinic teaching which echoes this idea. When the Jewish people are gathered together, no nation or tongue would ever have ruled over them. However, if and when you separate yourselves into individual groups, it’s the end of Israel. This is Yaakov’s message to his children! Just be together. Even if they are involved in Idolatry but there is peace between them, Hashem says, “I don’t want to touch them.” This is the greatness of unifying the Jewish people.
 
The midrash points out that the word “He’asfu,” gather together, is a synonym for purity. In the language of the Midrash Tanchuma (Vayechi 8):
 
, . :
 
What is meant by gather yourselves together (he’asfu)? It means purify yourselves, as stated in the verse: Let her [Miriam] (for she was excommunicated for a number of days and then she was brought back into the camp in purity) be shut up within the camp seven days, and after that she shall be purified (te’asef) (Num. 12:14).
 
The Izhbitzer (Mei Hashiloach Volume II, “Vayikra Yaakov El Banav Vayomer He’Asfu”) writes that gathering together is purity. The reason why “”, gathered, is used as a form of purity is because when you gather together with your nation, it is the ultimate level of purity. Wouldn’t it be beautiful if we would all just join together? There are so many overseas programs for students in Israel. Wouldn’t it be beautiful if we would all join together to pray one tefillah? Wouldn’t it be nice if on Parshas Vayechi, all the synagogues, shuls and study halls, all gathered together and read the Parsha?
 
֥ ֖ ֑ ֗ ֙ ֣ ֔ ֛ ֥ ֖ ֥
 
And Jacob called his sons and said, “Come together that I may tell you what is to befall you in days to come.
 
Yaakov is calling out to all his children. Every child is different, yet despite all the differences, we can still all join together. As it says in the Book of Devarim (14:1):
 

 
You are children of the LORD your God. You shall not gash yourselves.
 
You are all children of G-d! Don’t break off into a separate (Sis’godedu) group! We can all be together.
 
I hope this will be the Shabbos that we bring the end of days by joining together. If we emphasize all that we agree on then we can all ” “When the heads of the people assembled, the tribes of Israel together” (Deuteronomy 33:5) be gathered together and bring the end of days before this coming Shabbos! Amen.
 
Based on the Teachings of Rabbi Mordechai Machlis Shlita