Friday, January 5, 2007
הרב ד'יפו on Parshas VaYechi
When a person dies, two things occur. First, the bodily functions (breathing, pumping of the heart, and so on) cease. This is called Geviyah (expiring). The second aspect of death concerns the soul. After the sin of Adam, the first man, death was decreed in order to allow the soul to purify itself from its contact with the body's physical drives and desires. Death purges the soul of those sensual influences that distance one from true closeness to God. The aspect of death that cleanses the soul is called מיתה.
In certain respects, Jacob did in fact die. But this was only in personal matters, due to the baseness of the physical world and its negative influence upon the human soul. Yet, that was not the true essence of Jacob's soul. When the Torah describes Jacob's passing, it does so in terms of his life's goal, as the father of the Jewish people. The Torah does not use the word 'death,' since these was no need to purge his soul of its ties to its worldly occupations.
This explains why we don't find in the Torah that Jacob's sons eulogized their father. Only the Egyptians did so — "A profound mourning for Egypt" [Gen. 50:11]. Jacob had assisted the Egyptians by bringing the years of famine to an early end. From the standpoint of the Egyptians, Jacob had died, and the connection of his soul to these matters was severed. Therefore, the Egyptians had reason to mourn. But Jacob's sons, who knew that Jacob was still alive with them, had no need to eulogize their father.
[adapted from Midbar Shur, pp. 242-251]
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