וַיֵּשֶׁב יִשְׂרָאֵל בְּאֶרֶץ מִצְרַיִם בְּאֶרֶץ גֹּשֶׁן וַיֵּאָחֲזוּ בָהּ וַיִּפְרוּ וַיִּרְבּוּ מְאֹד. וַיְחִי יַעֲקֹב בְּאֶרֶץ מִצְרַיִם

And (the nation of) Yisrael settled in the land of Egypt in the land of Goshen, and they acquired property in it, and they were fruitful and multiplied greatly. And Yaakov lived in the land of Egypt

Seeing the above pesukim one wouldn’t notice anything specific, and they’d be right. The split between Parashat Vayigash and Vayechi isn’t noticeable in the Torah. These are the only two Parshiyot in the Torah where is no extra space put in. This is called “setumah”, meaning closed or blocked.

Rashi asks why this Parashah has the distinction of being setumah. Rashi’s first answer that in this Parashah, Yaakov is dying, and with Yaakov’s death came a “closing” of the eyes of the Jews. They now began their subjugation to the Egyptians. Many commentaries ask that the Jews didn’t begin slavery until the death of the last of the sons of Yaakov, many years later? They answer that with Yaakov’s death the guiding light of the nation was gone. Though they weren’t actually enslaved, the source of their spirituality was now extinguished, and they were ripe for the picking.

Additionally, says Rashi, Yaakov wished to reveal the end- when and how Mashiach will come. Yaakov wished to ease the burden of our exile, and when one knows when it will end they can more easily bear the burden. Hashem didn’t want this, and thus Yaakov’s eyes were “closed”- he could no longer see the end to be able to reveal it.

Rabbi Gedalya Schorr gives an additional answer. The Torat Kohanim writes that when there are spaces in the Torah, Hashem literally paused saying it to Moshe (and Moshe when he would later teach his students) so he could reflect on the preceding pesukim. The fact that there was no pause here was to teach that in Yaakov’s absence, his offspring lost their capacity to pause, reflect on, and perceive proper conclusions from the event.

Shabbat Shalom

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