Kol Eliyohu - Parshas Vayechi

What enabled Ya’akov to become strong and sit up on the bed?

(48,2) “And someone told Ya’akov and said: Behold (הנה), your son Yosef is coming to you. And Yisrael was strengthened and sat up on the bed (המטה).”

We can explain this posuk on the level of allusion from that which Chazal taught in Nedarim 39b, that one who visits a sick person takes away one sixtieth of his illness. But this is only true if the visitor is בן גילו, that is, he has the same Mazal. And it says in the Midrash that Yosef was בן גילו of Ya’akov.

Now, the word הנה has a gematria of sixty, and the word המטה has a gematria of fifty-nine. This is what the posuk is saying: “Behold (הנה), your son Yosef is coming to you”, to visit you and take away one sixtieth of your illness. Because of all Ya’akov”s sons, only Yosef was בן גילו. Therefore, “Yisrael was strengthened”, because his illness had been reduced by one sixtieth, “and sat up on the bed (המטה)”, because there remained only fifty-nine parts from his illness.

When did Ephraim and Menashe multiply abundantly?

(48,16) “…and may they multiply abundantly like fish, in the midst of the land.”

Many people have asked that despite the fact that Ya’akov blessed Ephraim and Menashe that they should multiply abundantly, we do not find that their numbers were greater than the other tribes when they were counted in the wilderness and at Arvos Moav.

But we can explain that Ya’akov’s blessing was only for when they entered Eretz Yisrael, as we see from Ya’akov’s concluding words “in the midst of the land”. And in fact during the seven years of conquering following their entry into the land, the blessing of Ya’akov was fulfilled, because they became abundant like the fish of the sea whose offspring cannot be counted.

Therefore, it is written in Yehoshua 17:14 “And the sons of Yosef spoke to Yehoshua, saying: Why did you give me for an inheritance one lot and one portion, seeing that I am a numerous people, until thus”, that is, until the land was conquered, “has Hashem blessed me?”. And because of this Chazal explained in Bava Basra 118a, that even according to the opinion that the land was distributed according to the male population of each tribe at the time of their entry into Eretz Yisrael, even so, the complaint of the sons of Yosef was valid due to the disproportionately large number of children that had been born in the last seven years, because in a very short time they increased their numbers until it was hard to count them. And for the same reason Chazal explained there that because of the evil eye Yehoshua replied to them “if you are a numerous people, go up to the forest…”.

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