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5 Facts About Parshat Vayechi that You (Maybe) Didn’t Know

Published on Friday January 29th, 2021

Discover and learn every week, "5 Facts" written on the weekly Parshah that you can share at your Shabbos table.

וְעַתָּ֡ה שְׁנֵֽי־בָנֶיךָ֩ הַנּוֹלָדִ֨ים לְךָ֜ בְּאֶ֣רֶץ מִצְרַ֗יִם עַד־בֹּאִ֥י אֵלֶ֛יךָ מִצְרַ֖יְמָה לִי־הֵ֑ם אֶפְרַ֙יִם֙ וּמְנַשֶּׁ֔ה כִּרְאוּבֵ֥ן וְשִׁמְע֖וֹן יִֽהְיוּ־לִֽי׃(48:5)


Now, your two sons, who were born to you in the land of Egypt before I came to you in Egypt, shall be mine; Ephraim and Manasseh shall be mine no less than Reuben and Simeon.

  1. What did Yaakov reveal to his sons before dying?

  • Along with the blessings that Yaakov gave his sons, he also revealed to them the following secrets:

  1. Ephraim and Menashe would be counted as his own sons and would each receive a portion in the land of Israel.

  2. The thoughts of a couple during marital relations can influence the soul of the child being conceived. Indeed, during intercourse, the future child’s soul descends and hovers near the couple’s heads.

  3. He had been destined to have an additional two sons (i.e. Ephraim and Menashe) with Bilhah. However, because of the sin of Reuven moving his father's bed, those two souls remained in Heaven until Yosef married Assenath and fathered them. For this reason, Yaakov considered them like his own sons.

  • Efraim and Menashe were twins.


וַיֹּ֤אמֶר יוֹסֵף֙ אֶל־אָבִ֔יו בָּנַ֣י הֵ֔ם אֲשֶׁר־נָֽתַן־לִ֥י אֱלֹהִ֖ים בָּזֶ֑ה וַיֹּאמַ֕ר קָֽחֶם־נָ֥א אֵלַ֖י וַאֲבָרֲכֵֽם׃(48:9)

And Joseph said to his father, “They are my sons, whom God has given me here.” “Bring them up to me,” he said, “that I may bless them.”

2. How did Yosef “prove” to Yaakov that his sons were from pure lineage  ?

  • Yosef then showed Yaakov his marriage contract and prayed to Hashem that the Divine Presence would return to him. He also showed him the golden tablet that was hanging on Assenath’s neck, which contained the words that Yaakov himself had written: “Whoever takes this daughter of Dinah, will be marrying into Yaakov’s descendants”.


וַיֹּ֤אמֶר יִשְׂרָאֵל֙ אֶל־יוֹסֵ֔ף רְאֹ֥ה פָנֶ֖יךָ לֹ֣א פִלָּ֑לְתִּי וְהִנֵּ֨ה הֶרְאָ֥ה אֹתִ֛י אֱלֹ-הִ֖ים גַּ֥ם אֶת־זַרְעֶֽךָ׃(48:11)

And Israel said to Joseph, “I never expected to see you again, and here God has let me see your children as well.”

3. Why was Yaakov seemingly surprised to see Yosef’s children ?

  • We are told that the face of one who sinned turns a yellowish tinge like beeswax, that could only be cured with a drug called ikkarin. This drug, however, also makes a person sterile. When Yaakov saw the Yosef’s face had no tinge, he thought that Yosef may have taken the ikkarin to make the yellow tinge go away. However, from the fact that he had children, was proof that he did not sin and did not take the drug.


וַיְצַ֣ו אוֹתָ֗ם וַיֹּ֤אמֶר אֲלֵהֶם֙ אֲנִי֙ נֶאֱסָ֣ף אֶל־עַמִּ֔י קִבְר֥וּ אֹתִ֖י אֶל־אֲבֹתָ֑י אֶל־הַ֨מְּעָרָ֔ה אֲשֶׁ֥ר בִּשְׂדֵ֖ה עֶפְר֥וֹן הַֽחִתִּֽי׃(49:29)

Then he instructed them, saying to them, “I am about to be gathered to my kin. Bury me with my fathers in the cave which is in the field of Ephron the Hittite,

4. Why didn’t Yaakov want to be buried in Egpyt?

  • Yaakov didn’t want to be buried in Egypt because:

  1. He knew that the lice would afflict the Egyptian soil during the ten plagues and would attack his body as well.

  2. He didn’t want his tomb to become a place of idolatry.

  3. Those who are buried outside of Eretz Israel will not come back to life as quickly at the resurrection of the dead as those who are buried in Eretz Yisrael.

וַיָּבֹ֜אוּ עַד־גֹּ֣רֶן הָאָטָ֗ד אֲשֶׁר֙ בְּעֵ֣בֶר הַיַּרְדֵּ֔ן וַיִּ֨סְפְּדוּ־שָׁ֔ם מִסְפֵּ֛ד גָּד֥וֹל וְכָבֵ֖ד מְאֹ֑ד וַיַּ֧עַשׂ לְאָבִ֛יו אֵ֖בֶל שִׁבְעַ֥ת יָמִֽים׃(50:10)

When they came to Goren ha-Atad, which is beyond the Jordan, they held there a very great and solemn lamentation; and he observed a mourning period of seven days for his father.

5. Why was the place where Yaakov funeral took place, called “The Field of Thorns”?

  • The kings of Canaan and the princes of Yishmael came to Yaakov’s funeral in order to prevent his burial. However, when they saw Yosef’s crown on the coffin they remembered how Yosef supplied them with food during the famine. They then changed their mind and placed their own crowns on Yaakov’s coffin, as well. There were a total of 36 crowns on Yaakov’s coffin which resembled a field of thorns. As such, the place was named Goren Atad/The field of thorns.

  • Due to the large crowd expected at Yakov’s funeral, (similar to the funerals of great rabbis nowadays) fifty men were appointed to keep the order and ensure that no one gets hurt.

Eytan Yéhouda DZIKOWSKI - © Torah-Box Account

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