Parashat Vayihi: the end in sight

There's something tremendously beautiful and deeply luminous about going into exile with the foreknowledge that it is a temporary and necesary state. This parashah ends with beautful berachot to each of the tribes of Israel. Heaps of light, tons of blessing. Yaakov avinu sees the end, but doesn't reveal it. Yosef tells us that God will be coming to bring us out of this exile, before it has even begun.

In that light, VaYihi really means and Yaakov lived, or even and Yaakov will live. This is the end of bereshit, the end of the beginning, but it is also the beginning of the end, and so it is a point of tremendous illumination.

This relates to two different teachings, bi adoni, and ohr chozer.

Shlomo Katz sent me an email about Yehuda's request to Yosef last parashah saying בי אדני, please my master, but more deeply and more literally it means God is in me. This is an unbelievable exile, the Godly soul in the human body, but it is also a boundless revellation of God's light, God's awesome providence and divine attention to the smallest of our paltry human concerns. The Godly soul in the human body is not sad, but an endlessly joyous precursor to when that light is no longer hidden in a body, but instead revealed in the world.

There is a discussion of this in the Tanya, when a Tzaddik passes away, his soul is no longer limited to the locality of his body, but rather permeates the whole world, both the heavens and the earth. For this reason, those bound to the Tzaddik are capable of revealing and channelling the light of the Tzaddik more clearly than during his lifetime. This is the case for Eliyahu and Elisha, for Mosheh and Yehoshua, for the Baal Shem Tov and the Maggid, for the Ariz"l and Rav Hayyim Vital, and for Rebbe Nachman and Rebbe Natan. (And of course for countless others)

The second Torah is that of Ohr Chozer, one of the last teachings of the Baal HaTanya was a long and complex work, (Igeret haKodesh ch.22) that explains parts of the Ariz"l's system of partzufim, specifically that the returning light, the light that rebounds from the feet of Adam Kadmon, shines more brightly in this world, than the source of the light. Hence the only thing in this world that is empowered to create something from nothing is the ground, where the feet of Adam Kadmon end. The important point here is this idea that at the deepest, most complete exile of Godly light, there is a wild unbounded revellation of that same light, implicit in it's being hidden.

This is the light of the word VaYihi. It is an end whose portent of a new beginning of infinite promise has no limit.


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