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through suffering, and now it is in Yosef’s hands to returnYaakov to his place before G-d, gathered with his ances-tors.This indicates that the request we are witnessing is not assimple as a burial alone. The language of the
: “Placeyour hand under my thigh,” recalls an earlier story aboutYaakov’s grandfather. In it, Avraham tells his servant toundergo a journey, in the opposite direction.
Av-raham is told to leave Israel and find a mate for Yitzchak,to go in search of a suitable mother for none other thanYaakov, a matron of Israel. This parallel story clues us into the real function of this promise. Yaakov is not onlyasking Yosef to commit to returning his body to Israel. Heasks Yosef to swear to ensure the future redemption of thechildren of Israel and their return to the land.The question that still remains is why Yosef? Why doesYaakov appoint Yosef the steward of Israel’s fate? The an-swer lays both in the answer of the Midrash we referencedearlier as well as the conclusion of our
. At our
end Yosef passes away. This speaks to the framing of our
. Two deaths, two burials, one begins our
and the other concludes it. And on both instances a shvuahis elicited. At the
end Yosef adjures his brothers.He tells them that a time will come when G-d will takethem out of Egypt and they will be responsible for Yosef’sreturn to Israel then as well.This is precisely the point of the dialogue between Yaakovand Yosef. Yosef and Yaakov occupy two parts of the sametradition. Yaakov represents Israel in the land and Yosef represents Israel in
. In Egypt, Yaakov is despondent;he longs to return to his home. Yosef in Egypt flourishes.He is one of the most powerful people in Egypt, when hespeaks, Pharaoh listens and acts, granting every request.During the harsh times to come in Egypt the spirit of Yosef will accompany the children of Israel. His bones willremain with them and give them the strength to endurethe suffering that will end in glory. He endured slaveryand abuse and was rewarded with wealth and power. He isthe spirit of the Jew in exile, who succeeds and falls, suc-ceeds and falls, yet proudly endures. Yaakov is buried inthe land. He is the angelic warrior who blesses his childrenwith regard to their portions of Israel, their roles in thenation that will not be born for decades. Yet, he is a bea-con to all those in exile. He is mourned by Egypt becauseof what he represents, a connection to divine truth em-bodied in a national soul.It is between these two pillars of
comes to a close. It is the legacy of thesetwo forefathers that guides our progression to
where both the endurance of Yosef and the guiding lightof Yaakov will have crucial roles to play. Yaakov bows toYosef and to G-d recognizing that thanks to Yosef’s com-mitment to preserving the tradition of the
, G-d’s promise to guide and redeem the children of Israelwill be realized.
THE CONSTANT REJECTION OF THEFIRSTBORN
When Yaakov places his hand on Ephraim, the younger of Yosef’s sons, the Meforshim say this is yet another blowto the right of the firstborn. This has already been a dis-cussion between Yaakov and Esav, but this is the finalblow. The preference given to the younger son is usuallyexplained as being a vision for the future. But we knowthat according to Judaism, a person is judged by his pre-sent situation. In this case Yaakov showed a connection tothe younger son, which is connected with a conceptualmessage. The
has one approach to explainingthis. He says that Hashem chooses the weak, basically theunderdog. He favors the underdog over the favorite, sohe chooses the younger son over the clearly superiorfirstborn. Where can we see that Hashem chooses theunderdog? The clear example, is by Har Sinai, which wasthe smallest mountain in the area, and the Torah was giv-en on it. It also says explicitly in a Passuk (Devarim - 7:7)“Hashem did not desire you, or choose you, because youwere a numerous people; for you are the smallest peo-ple”.The Kli Yakar demonstrates how this unfolds in the fami-ly of Avaraham. Yishmael was the first born, and Yitzchakgot the Bechor; Esav was the first born, and Yaakov gotthe Bechor; and now Menasheh is the first born, andEphraim gets the Bechor! R’ Samson Raphael Hirsch alsoadds Shem, one of Noach’s sons, into this mix. Althoughthe Torah does not say who was the oldest of the three, itis known the Shem was not the oldest, and yet he wenton to create Yeshivat Shem V’Ever.The Pa’aneach Raza compares what is said about Yaakovand Yitzchak when they were giving the brachot. Regard-ing both, it says that they were old, and in both cases,