Parshas Vayechi: Breaking the Code of Geulah


rav-shmuel-brazil-1By Rav Shmuel Brazil

In Parshas Shemos [3,15] the passuk says that Hashem tells Moshe that he should gather the elders of Yisrael and say to them that Hashem appeared to him to say “pakod pakadeti eschem” that I remember you and am aware of what has happened to you in Mitzrayim. These two words of “pakod pakadeti” is the code that is to verify that Moshe is the true redeemer of the Jewish Nation. As Rashi points out on passuk 18 that they will listen to your voice when you mention these two words as the code, since Yaakov used them in the redemption process [Berishis 50, 24] and so did Yosef in passuk 25. By relating the code you will be believed as the true redeemer and not one of those false Messiahs.

The question arises that if everyone was familiar with the code, by Moshe saying over what was common knowledge would seem meaningless and of no significance at all?

A few solutions are given to this problem. Some answer that only Serach bas Asher knew the code as it was only transmitted to her. This Serach was the same individual who told Yaakov that Yosef was alive, revealed to Moshe the burial place of Yosef, and lived miraculously for tens of years even after the period of Yetzias Mitzrayim. The elders would check with her to verify the code that she alone possessed and then Moshe will be accepted as the authentic red Another interpretation is that really everyone knew the code but they were waiting for a heavenly sign that would verify the identity of the redeemer. Moshe was a stutterer. It is totally unnatural for a stutterer to pronounce the sound of “p”. Yet Moshe Rabbeinu miraculously pronounced a double “p” sound pakod pakadeti which was a clear sign that he must be the redeemer.

On the same theme I would like to suggest the following pashat. The indicator of the authentic redeemer would be revealed not by repeating the code but rather by his interpretation of it. The Baal Haturim at the end of Vayechi explains that the word pakod could also be interpreted as a lacking [Bamidbar 31,49]. All hope for redemption was squashed because the question that was eating away at Klall Yisrael was how is it possible to be redeemed when we were in Mitzrayim only for a period of 210 years and we still owe a remainder of 190 to fulfill. For at the Bris Bein Habasarim it was decreed that we will be enslaved for 400 years? One of the answers to this question is that the degree of servitude was so extremely severe and unnatural that it made up for the 190 missing years. This answer is hinted in the words vayemarraru es chayahem [Shemos 1,14], that the Egyptians embittered their lives. The musical notes [tropp] on these words are kadma ve’azla which interprets in Aramaic as they proceeded to go out early hinting to the skipping of a lean of 190 years. This interpretation is furthered verified by the fact that the gematria of kadma ve’azlah is 190. Not only is the reason of our early deliverance hinted in these words of the Torah but also the exact amount of years of our early exodus. Incredible. This interpretation is hinted in the words of the Baal Haturim that pakod which is gematria 190 was yifkod will be taken off from the number of 400 of what we owe.

We see from this that it was not the repeating of the code that was the indicator of the real redeemer but rather his unique interpretation of how to answer the problem of leaving Mitzrayim at this juncture in history when our debt has not been fully paid. Only Moshe Rabbeinu came up with this interpretation of why these words serve as the code for redemption.

I would like to bring one last interpretation from Rav Tzadok of Lublin who said the following. True, that everyone knew of the code. However, the one who would say the code and cause everyone to really feel the light and hope of geulah from these penetrating words which pierced their already apathetic and unbelieving hearts would be identified as the true redeemer. Only Moshe Rabbeinu was able to do so.

We see from this last interpretation that it is not what you say but how you say it that brings the geulah. Two people can say the same words yet they can affect the recipients of the message with varying reactions and impressions. Even a simple good morning to one’s spouse can have polarized effects both positive and negative. One is said with a welcoming smile and pleasant countenance while the other is muttered without eye contact and just perfunctory.

The answer to the chacham son in the Hagaddah is emor lo kehilchos hapaisach ain maftirin achar hapesach afikomon – tell him like the laws of karban pesach that one cannot eat anything afterwards. The Belzer Rebbi ztl asked what is the meaning of emor lo kehilchos hapaisach say to him like the laws of pesach? He answers that the dialogue that one must have with his child the night of the seder has to be one that leaves an incredible and indelible impression. The night of the seder must be so memorable that the taste of the seder should remain in his mouth and heart the entire year just like the laws of karban pesach which states one should not eat after the karban pesach in order so its taste should last and last and not leave. The night of the seder during the portion of “maggid” is not about what you say to your children but rather how you say it, with how much excitement and fire, with how much enthusiasm and meaning, with how much simcha and joy. So too it’s not about the mere recital of davening that one says mechanically without feeling and heart, with just rote and habit, but rather the sensation and visualization of one standing before the king of all kings that makes tefillah an opportunity to bring about devaikus with one’s creator.

In the parsha of Noach the Torah says that Hashem asked Noach to create a tzohar to the taiva. Whether we interpret tzohar to mean a window or a brilliant stone, both interpretations signify light. The Baal Shem Tov therefore interprets these words to give over the message that everyone is expected to make a light to the words that he says [taiva besides ark means word]. Don’t just merely say the words of davening and Torah but rather bring out the inner light and energy that lies within them in order that their inner lights will lighten your heart and mind bringing you closer to Hashem the light of all lights. If “how you said it” brought the redeemer to the Jewish people in their first galus, “how you say it” can surely bring the redeemer to the Jewish people in our last galus.

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