Rabbi Shmuel Brazil
HOW WELL DO YOU KNOW YOUR BERACHOS? | PARSHAS VAYECHI
When Yaakov wants to relate to his children the end of days the time of the final geulah and Moshiach's coming, the Shechinah departed from him. Instead he began to speak about other things (Rashi). Apparently the other things refer to the berachos given to the Shevatim before his demise. However, if we look closely at the berachos we will discover that the "other things" are not a separate topic at all but rather an elucidation and insight into the Final Day of Moshiach's coming.
At the conclusion of the berachos the passuk says ויברך אותם איש אשר כברכתו ברך אותם Yaakov blessed them with the blessing that fitted him. Rashi writes ברכה העתידה לבוא על כל אחד ואחד the blessing which in the future was to be bestowed upon each one. Here Rashi explains the fundamental mission of our lives. Each person is a בריכה a wellspring and fountain of potential. Each individual is unique in that he must actualize his potential of positive moral choices in order to bring about a sum total of sanctifications of Hashem's name during his lifetime. He already was given his destiny that he could attain if he chooses so. That goal is his beracha to himself, to his nation, to the world, and to Hashem. By doing so he becomes a רכב a chariot to Hashem's glory as the Avos were called הן הן המרכבה.
Rav Yisrael Salantar was once participating with Rav Naftali Amsterdam his close talmid in the Seudas Purim and his talmid was crying to his Rebbi wishing that he had the mind of the Shaagas Aryeh, the heart of the Yesod Veshoresh Havodah and the sensitivities of his Rebbi. Rav Yisrael answered him, My dear Naftali, Hashem wants your head, your heart, and your sensitivities. Every potential with its strengths and weaknesses is one of a kind with which one can excel to be the אדם with the letters מאד being revealed.
The word of אדם and מאד possesses the word אד which means to break. To attain fulfillment one must be ready and willing to actually break himself, his middos, his selfishness, his ego and pride. Today's lifestyle is to chill relax and not overdue ruchniyus and spirituality. In today's climate there is retardation in fulfilling one's potential as the word itself suggests potentchill. The drive that should be one's strongest motivation in life (potent) which is to actualize his Tzelem Elokim, is mocked and belittled by our culture and the chill factor is fostered instead.
The media's entire thrust to its environment is to make the listener and the consumer imagine themselves as someone else, deriving vicarious pleasure with their new identification. By following one's sport team, wearing model's fashion, dining at fancy restaurants, travelling to exotic places and safaris, one lives in fantasy that they have a more exciting, different and desirable new identity through these experiences. One's mission on planet earth cannot be hid or swept under the carpet with a new classy image created by the crazy perverts of the media. One cannot run away or escape from his mission as we see from Yonah. One will be responsible for not listening to his inner calling of his neshamah.
The passuk says that Yaakov said to his children gather and I will relate to you את אשר יקרא אתכם באחרית הימים. The word יקרא means to call unlike יקרה which translates as to happen. As Moshiach comes closer, Hashem is calling to His people to shape up and spread His word throughout the world. You don't hear the calling of Hashem from Covid, the sicknesses, the untimely deaths of Klal Yisrael's children, the lockdowns etc.?
The Baalei Mussar say that the real gehenim will be when they will show you your picture of how you would have turned out had you made the right moral choices every day of your life. You will not believe it and say there was no way I could have been such a giant in spirit. When they prove to you, that this is the absolute truth, this will be your worst gehenom.
Hashem says to Avraham ואברכך I will bless you. How? והיה ברכה You will be the beracha. The biggest beracha is to be able to dig deep inside yourself and reveal the spring of life potential that lies inside of you waiting only to be revealed. It is so potent and powerful that with it we can bring Moshiach. That is why there are two times of the future geulah בעתה אחישנה (Yeshaya 60,22) Rashi writes if we merit then אחישנה I will hasten the geulah. Otherwise, it will come בעתה at its appointed time when ever that is.
If we would work on ourselves and make the necessary changes in our character traits and upgrade our Avodas Hashem we could bring Moshiach even earlier that the predetermined time. We also can change ourselves to new identities that would bring us lasting eternal happiness instead of mere external passing exterior images that fade with every seasonal change.
Yaakov was hoping to reveal to his children the end of days. Hashem had a different plan. I will allow for אחישנה that you can bring the geulah earlier by bringing out the beracha that each one has within himself. Then the tikkun will be completed by you Am Yisrael and not by Me. The berachos to the Shevatim was the message that each one can bring the geulah by his unique mission in this world to be himself with his strengths and weaknesses, his positives and negatives, his pluses and minuses, his losses and gains, his debits and credits, his failures and victories.
וזאת אשר דבר להם אביהם ויברך אותם איש אשר כברכתו What does it mean when the Torah said וזאת אשר דבר להם אביהם . Of course, he just gave everyone berachosand therefore it is superfluous to say and this is what their father said to them?
We can say that the passuk means that Yaakov told them the message of זאת. The Maharal says that this word represents the two interventions of Hashem in this world. There is the intervention of the Laws of Nature called טבע and there is the intervention of Torah which was the blueprints through which the world was created which is the supernatural providence of Hashem. The letter of ז of the word zos symbolizes nature the number seven representing the seven days of creation. The letters of את represent the letters of the Aleph Beis from alephto tov. So in the word of זאת we have these two descriptions of divine intervention.
The time of geulah which corresponds to the predestined time is symbolized by the letter zayin – nature. The letters of את represent the supernatural, the merit of changing one's nature and middos for the better, to server Hashem and fulfill the potential of the Tzelem Elokim with which he was gifted. Yaakov thought there was one destined for the final geulah just as we found in the Galus Mitzrayim 400 years. He wanted to reveal that time to his children. Hashem wanted them to know that there is another time as well which is called אחישנה . The geulah can be hastened by איש כברכתו בירך אותו every Yid by upgrading his ruchniyus, changing his middos, and fostering a greater love and yiras shamayim to Hashem. וזאת אשר דבר להם. The Torah is telling us that we should not think that when the Shechina left Yaakov he decided that instead of the geulah he will give out berachos. No he did not change to a different topic. Yaakov was talking about an expressway to the geulah one that allows to bring it even earlier in our days mamesh. How? Through איש את ברכתו בירך אותו. This is hinted in the words וזאת אשר דבר Yaakov's berachos was an expression of זאת revealing to them that there are two ways to bring Moshiach. One, let it happen on its own but who knows how the matzav of Klal Yisrael will look like at that coming. The second preferable way is to make it happen through our avodah and our moral choices every day. וזאת - Yaakov with the berachos was showing Klal Yisrael that there are two ways alluded to in the word זאת by which the geulah can come. Hashem obviously preferred אחישנה for He stopped Yaakov from relating the בעתה time.
When we are asked before the heavenly court צפית לישועה did you hope for Moshiach's coming what are we going to answer. I doubt if singing Ani Maamin will be sufficient. This question is not addressed to the בעתה time but rather to the אחישנה. The only way to prove that you hoped for his coming in אחישנה mode is to say I embraced the challenges and made changes of spiritual growth and development. I brought out my beracha from my bericha with my bechira.
Although we learned to recite our berachos as soon as we learned to speak, as we grow older we have to ensure we become our own beracha and thereby be a blessing to our Creator.
- Rabbi Shmuel Brazil