Parsha Vayechi Rabbi Fishel Todd


Rabbi Fishel Todd
Rabbi Fishel Todd


Who said to whom, and in what circumstances?

(a) I will do as you say.

(b) Who are these?

(c) May G-d make you like Ephraim and Menasseh.

(d) Judah is a lion cub.

(e) G-d, I long for your salvation!

(f) I will go up… and bury my father.

(g) Am I in the place of G-d?

(h) G-d will certainly remember you and bring you… to the Land that He swore to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob.


(i) Be strong, and become a man!

(j) You shall act according to your wisdom.


(a) Joseph to his father Jacob (48:30), agreeing to ensure that his burial would not be in Egypt, but in the Patriarchal tomb in the Holy Land.

(b) These are the words Jacob exclaimed in Joseph’s presence when he set eyes on Ephraim and Menasseh (49:8) in his old age.

(c) Jacob, in blessing his grandsons, Ephraim and Menasseh (48:20) – initiating the text henceforth used for giving blessings.

(d) Jacob, in blessing his son Judah (49:9) with powers of leadership before his death.

Rabbi Fishel Todd
Rabbi Fishel Todd

(e) Jacob, in blessing his son, Dan (49:18). [Commentators read in this a reference to the last recorded words of Samson, one of his descendants, as he brought down the temple of Dagon on the Philistines, crushing himself in the process.] (Judges 16:28)

(f) Joseph to Pharaoh (50:5), in persuading him to let him leave Egypt temporarily to bury his father Jacob in the family tomb in the Holy Land.

(g) Joseph to his brothers following their father’s death (50:19), after they begged his forgiveness for grievously wronging him.

(h) Joseph to his brothers on his death bed – reminding them that the Israelites’ permanent home was the Holy Land and that their presence in Egypt was to be only a temporary phenomenon. (50:24)


(i) King David, in his final words to his son and successor, Solomon (Kings I 2:2).

(j) King David to Solomon (Kings I 2:6), in the same circumstances as above. ‘You shall act according to your wisdom’ refers to his impetuous commander, Joab, who needlessly put to death two people who, by the time they were murdered, were David’s close allies: Avner (Samuel II 3:27) and Amasa (ibid. 20:10). David had not succeeded in catching up with him in his own lifetime – he left that to his son, Solomon. (See Kings I 2:34)


From where, according to Rashi’s commentary, may the following be deduced?

(a) ‘Bow down to the fox when he has his hour.’ (There are times when a great person should show respect to an inferior person)

(b) The Shechina (Divine Presence) is always above the head of a sick person.

(c) Express severe criticism by condemning the wrong specific act: do not assassinate the general character of the wrongdoer.

(d) Both those that learn Torah and those who support Torah have great merit: indeed one activity complements the other. (e) One may tell untruths to promote family harmony.


(a) The text states that Jacob bowed down to his son Joseph after he agreed on oath (47:31) to promote his burial in the Holy Land. Although Joseph was only the ‘fox’ – the Patriarch’s son, he was unique in having the political key to obtain permission to leave Egypt for that purpose. (Talmud: Megillah 16b)

(b) From the same verse as above – ‘Jacob bowed down at the head of the bed’ (47:31). According to this explanation, he did not bow down to his son Joseph per se, but to the Divine Presence in the vicinity. On that, the Talmud pins the tradition that the Shechina (Divine Presence) is always above the head of a sick person. (Shabbat 12b)

(c) When Jacob sharply rebuked his sons Simeon and Levy for their impetuousness in killing the people of Shechem over the rape of Dinah, he cursed only their anger (49:7), without assassinating their personalities as people.

(d) Rashi explains Jacob’s cryptic blessings to Zebulun and Issachar as stating that the former’s forte would be in business and trade, whilst the latter’s would be in studying Torah and spiritual leadership (49:13-14). Their working in partnership together (c.f. Deut. 33:18) means that as Issachar has a share of Zebulun’s acquired wealth, Zebulun has a corresponding share in Issachar’s Torah study. That precedent sets the tone of the relationships between Torah institutions and their financial benefactors.

(e) After Jacob’s death, Joseph’s brothers feared that Joseph might use his political powers to avenge their treatment of him earlier in life. They approached Joseph telling him, by the command of their father (50:16), to forgive them. There is nothing on record in the text to state that Jacob gave any such order, but they invented it to prevent any future family trouble. (Gen. Rabbah 100:8)

Rabbi Fishel Todd
Rabbi Fishel Todd


1. Why, according to Hirsch, did Jacob insist on being buried in the Holy Land?

2. How, according to Abarbanel, may Jacob’s wish to transported for burial in Holy Land be reconciled with the stated tradition against such a practice? That tradition is recorded in the Talmud (Sanhedrin 111). It quotes Jeremiah 2:7: ‘You came and contaminated My Land and you made My inheritance as an abomination’. On that theme, R. Eleazar adds: ‘In your lives you did not go up – shall you come and contaminate My land in death?’

3. What is the significance, according to Rabbeinu Bachya, of all the letters of the Hebrew alphabet being used in Judah’s blessing except the letter ‘zayin’?

4. When, according to the Malbim, did the first phase of the Israelite servitude in Egypt begin?

5. Why, according to the Talmud (Sotah 13b), was Joseph’s place of burial in the Holy Land the city of Shechem? (Joshua 24:32)


1. Hirsch derives from the closing words of the previous Parasha (47:27) that the Israelites were feeling more and more settled in Egypt. They began to look to the Nile rather than to the Jordan. By insisting on being buried in the Holy Land, Jacob sought to demonstrate to his sons that Egypt was not the permanent home for the Israelites.

2. Abarbanel explains that only the corpses of the wicked contaminate the Holy Land. Insisting on being buried in Israel after constantly rejecting it and detesting it, and the Mitzvot, is the act of hypocrisy that ‘contaminates My Land’. However, Abarbanel stresses that people living worthy and upright lives deserve to have the merit of being buried in the Holy Land…

3. Rabbeinu Bachya points out that in blessing Judah, Jacob used all the letters except ‘zayin’. That is a hint that the future Israelite monarchy will not be based on ‘klei zayin’ – weapons, but on truth and justice. ‘Not by might, nor by power, but by My spirit,’ says G-d, the Lord of Hosts. (Zacharia 4:6)

4. According to the Malbim, the servitude in Egypt started at the time the adults left Egypt to bury Jacob, leaving the children behind (50:8). He deduces that the children had to remain as Pharaoh had specifically ordered that to be so. He did this to show the Israelites were not free agents. That is why Joseph had to assure his brothers (50:24) that G-d would remember them and (eventually) bring them out of Egypt to the Promised Land.

5. The Talmud states that Joseph was eventually buried in Shechem because his brother tribes wished to make amends for their ill-treatment of him in that very place, for it was in the Shechem area that they sold him.


Following Rashi to 48:1, why did Jacob wish to reveal events of the future to his sons at the final stage of his life? And why, following Rashi’s commentary, should that prophecy have left Jacob’s mind at the moment he wished to do so?


16 Replies to “Parsha Vayechi Rabbi Fishel Todd”

  1. Haha thanks for the article my guy! Man, every time I read one of your articles on this Rabbi, I get to know more and more information about him. He definitely loves the Bible! That’s great to hear as I am very fond of the Bible myself. Thanks again for the information and keep posting about this guy! 

  2. So glad I got that one right, the part about Jacob and why he wanted to be buried in the Holy Land after his death. I was watching a show about how the Israelites were taken from their homes in ancient times and forced to work all across Egypt but seeing how they are still in tuned with their faith is beautiful. Having to go back to the Holy Land is a goal for many.

  3. Wow, I must say, I am happy to have stuck around your site to learn a little more about this culter. And I must say, I really find it so interesting how to refer to God as “G-d” I know I mentioned it in a different article that I read from you, but it still interests me so much that you do that. Thank you for this educational post

  4. Thank you so much for sharing about this Parsha Vayechi Rabbi Fishel Tod. He sounds like an amazing persona and all his answers are amazing, I don’t even half of the answers. He seems like he is so dedicated and devoted his life to the bible and that is amazing. I always learn something new here. 

  5. Hello there! This is an interesting article. It took me a couple tries to recognize that G-d was your codename for God. I definitely do not know a lot of the answers to these Biblical questions. I guess I know what to include as my new years resolution for this new year. Thanks for writing this post.

  6. Thanks so much for the great story! I had never heard of rabbi fischel before. I have to be honest I have a very difficult time wrapping my head around scriptures so I had a bit of difficulty following along and understanding the whole post. If you could summarize it in 2-3 sentences what would that summary be? From what I gather this is a lot of biblical history, is it not? Thanks again for the very informative post, even if I did struggle to comprehend it!

  7. I appreciate this breakdown of the story of Joseph.  I have read the bible in its entirety but there are always things that cannot be understood without proper context.  I didn’t know, for example, the reason why Jacob requested to be buried in the Holy Land or why Joseph was buried in Shechem.  These two things went straight over my head.  There is just so much to know and I’m glad to have someone like you, who is so educated in the Holy Scriptures, help us to understand what was going on “behind the scenes”. 

  8. I had not heard of Rabbi Fishel-Todd before reading this article, I was very impressed with his knowledge he certainly knows his stuff. This was a very interesting story about Joseph and one I had forgotten about. It has been very many years since I last read the bible. When I was a young child I used to love to attend bible classes every Sunday.

  9. Hi there!  Amazing review! Wow it was a pleasure going through this. I learnt something about Jacob from this. Personally I had questions about that bible story.well thanks for taking time to share this because my questions have been answered already. I will do well to share this. Thanks again 

  10. Thanks so much for sharing this interesting as very resourceful article here, many people are gonna benefit from what you’ve just put out to the world like this. I’ve been able to Gain a lot from this, It is good and very thoughtful of you to put all of this together as it’ll be very helpful to a lot of people

  11. Being from an Asian country, I am not too familiar with Judaism, but I did read a bit about it last year. Though not good enough to get into an in-depth discussion with you on the questions here! But it’s certainly an interesting religion and I am fascinated every time that I come across something to do with Judaism.

  12. There are several points I have gathered from Rabbi Fishel Todd. And one of them is that I had not realized that in Gen 50:16 Joseph’s brothers state something that was not recorded concerning something their father said. And after we read their statement, it makes us think that they could have made it up. But I also feel these were restored brothers, so it’s difficult for me to believe they acted this way. They may had had growns to say their father said that.

  13. Hello

    I love reading these stories that are in the bible, a very good website I see to read about it all. Where do you get all your info, just from reading about it? I will bookmark this website for further information in these difficult times it is a comfort to read about this.

    best regards

  14. Beautiful! As someone who loves the Word of God (Ps. 19), I enjoy coming across others who love it and dive into it as well. I have never heard of this guy before, but he seems very knowledgeable. I like all the questions and then the follow-up answers; it is helpful to be asked questions and forced to think about subject matter. But why is God spelled as G-D? 

  15. we are we still on the phone with my mom and I don’t know what I was like what I was like what I was like what the hell out of town and we will see what happens if u can do that and I was like oh my goodness you want me there at about the other side and I have to be there for you guys doing tonight and I don’t have to do that and I’m so happy for u to get to the store and buy a house in like a baby g you have to be 

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