Rabbi Yonah Burr
Vayechi: The Missed Galus
ויחי יעקב בארץ מצרים
And Yaakov lived in Eretz Mitzrayim
In the Torah, there is usually a space between one Parsha and the next, signaling that a new Parsha is about to begin. Vayechi, however, is ‘closed’. No space separates it from Parshas Vayigash.
Rashi explains this "closed" feeling. It is how the Jewish People felt in Mitzrayim when Yaakov passed away. Suddenly, they were boxed in, "closed". Trapped in Mitzrayim.
Wait a second, asks Rav Moshe Feinstein z”l. Rashi tells us in Parshas Shemos that Galus didn't start when Yaakov died. It started when the last of the twelve Shevatim passed away! Even more puzzling, when our Parsha opens, Yaakov himself is still alive. So even according to Rashi in our Parsha, why is the beginning of Vayechi closed?
Rav Moshe explains that any time we are under another authority without total freedom to serve Hashem, we are in Galus. In reality, the Jewish People entered Galus the moment they stepped into Mitzrayim.
But the Jewish People missed this because they were comfortable! Yosef was taking care of them! They lived in the prosperous land of Goshen and had everything they needed. The Galus was not felt.
When Yaakov passed away, it became clear that they couldn’t even bring him to a proper burial without delicate negotiations and diplomacy. That is when they realized that they had been in Galus all along.
"Their eyes and hearts were dimmed due to the Galus" describes how they suddenly realized this reality. It came as a shock and dimmed their eyes.
This is a powerful lesson for all of us. Though we may physically be comfortable, we don't have the Beis Hamikdash, Prophecy, nor the clarity of old. At times, we may not feel the Galus at all.
Nowadays, especially, when our state of galus is becoming ever more apparent, we can only turn heavenward and eagerly await the true redemption!
Have a wonderful and meaningful Shabbos!