Vayechi, a unique form of swearing

I heard Rav Goldwicht speak last night. Among the things he touched on was a bridge from Sukkos to Chanukah to Asara BeTeves in the parsha. He said that Yaakov died on Sukkoth (interesting, as that is the holiday associated with him) and was then carried out to Eretz Yisrael on Chanukah (due to the delay in the 40 day mummifying process followed by 30 days of mourning within Egypt) and then finally buried on Asar BeTeves because of the 7 days of mournig observed by the family prior to placing him in Maaras Hamachpela. It was soon after, following the death of the shvatim that the children of Israel came down spiritually, as they picked up on the culture and practices of their surroundings,  and then physically when they were enslaved.

My own thoughts on the parsha were this: Yaakov exacts a form of shvua from Yosef that we only see one other place in TaNaCh, and that is when Avraham exacts a shvua from Eliezer. They both request that oath be signified by the other person placing his hand tachat yereichi. Rashi explained in connection to Avraham that it was the milah that he wished to have him swear by. It was their equivalent of the practice of swearing on a Bible as a physical manifestation of a mitzvah. I was thinking tht there could be something else going on in connection with the milah and both exacted promises. Though Avraham's primary concern was getting Eliezer to find a bride for Yitzchak, he also explicitly stated that his son not be taken out of Israel. Likewise, Yaakov's request for burial was to be returned to Israel after his death.

The bris milah is associated with taking our place in the land of Israel, as mentioned in the connections said in Birchas Hamazon. Accordingly, I thought it's possible that swearing on the milah is about exerting oneself to make the efforts required that will keep that connection to the land -- even on behalf of another. 


Popular Posts