Similarities Between Yehudah and Shlomo by Hillel Koslowe


Both the Parashah of VaYechi and the Haftorah of VaYechi end with two of Bnei Yisrael’s leaders bestowing Berachot upon their children. Before Ya’akov dies, he blesses all of his children. His Berachah to Yehudah is that “MiTeref Beni Alitah… Lo Yasur Sheivet MiYhudah…,” “From the prey, my son, you elevated yourself… The scepter shall not depart from Yehudah” (BeReishit 49:9-10). Before David dies, he commands Shlomo, “VeHineih Imecha Shim’i Ben Geira… Al Tinakahu Ki Ish Chacham Atah,” “Behold! With you is Shim’i the son of Geira… You are not to hold him guiltless, for you are a wise man” (Kings I 2:8-9). We thus see a similarity between Ya’akov and David: Both, soon before they die, tell their children to fulfill their life goals.

Ya’akov encountered many difficulties throughout his life that took time to overcome. He wanted to marry Rachel, and worked for seven years for her. At the wedding, his father-in-law, Lavan, secretly swapped Rachel for Lei’ah, causing Ya’akov to marry Lei’ah while thinking he was marrying Rachel. He was thus forced to work another seven years in order for Lavan to grant him permission to marry Rachel. According to the Gemara, Ya’akov had ambitions to lead Bnei Yisrael into Eretz Yisrael and build the Beit HaMikdash, but due to many struggles throughout his life, he was unable to fulfill his goal.

David faced many difficulties maintaining peace throughout all of Israel. Although he wanted to build the Beit HaMikdash, as he tells Shlomo, “Ani Hayah Im Livavi LiVnot Bayit LaShem Eloki,” “As for me, it was in my heart to build a House in the name of the Lord my God” (Divrei HaYamim I 22:7), he couldn’t, because he had to focus on securing peace throughout all of Israel. He was unable to build the Beit HaMikdash because of the lack of peace during his time.

Ya’akov and David were both unable to complete their goals themselves, and yet managed to complete them through their children. Ya’akov tells Yehudah that he will be king throughout Israel. Not only does the first king of Israel come from the tribe of Yehudah, but Yehudah was the person who put Bnei Yisrael in the position to control all of Eretz Yisrael. Yehudah was the first of the brothers to suggest to them that they spare Yosef’s life. He gave Bnei Yisrael the chance to enter Eretz Yisrael as a united people by working to eliminate the Sin’at Chinam of the brothers. Similarly, Shlomo removed Sin’at Chinam by killing Shimi ben Gera. Just as Yehudah diminished the hatred throughout the brothers in order to take control of Eretz Yisrael, so too, Shlomo eliminated the Sin’at Chinam throughout Bnei Yisrael that was needed in order to merit the building of the Beit HaMikdash (Sanhedrin 97a). Although their fathers weren’t able to conquer Eretz Yisrael and build the Beit HaMikdash, both Yehudah and Shlomo were able to fulfill their fathers’ goals.

Regarding Shlomo HaMelech building the Beit HaMikdash, the Navi records: “VaYehi BeShemonim Shanah VeArba Mei’ot Shanah LaTzeit Bnei Yisrael MeiEretz Mitzrayim… VaYiven HaBayit LaShem,” “And it was four hundred and eighty years from the departure of Bnei Yisrael from Mitzrayim… and he [Shlomo] built the house [Beit HaMikdash] for Hashem” (Melachim I 6:1). Why does this Pasuk state the number of years since Bnei Yisrael left Egypt? The answer is that the Beit HaMikdash being built began by leaving Mitzrayim and getting Eretz Yisrael, which was caused by Yehudah removing the hatred towards Yosef. The Beit HaMikdash was built by ensuring peace throughout Bnei Yisrael, which was caused by Shlomo HaMelech eradicating Sin’at Chinam from Bnei Yisrael.

As Sefer BeReishit comes to an end, Bnei Yisrael descend to Mitzrayim. In order to remain resolute and leave Mitzrayim and subsequently enter Eretz Yisrael as one, there cannot be any hatred amongst them. Ya’akov’s final message to his children is that they must stay united and respect one another. The fact that final messages to their children are that there cannot be Sinat Chinam amongst Bnei Yisrael teaches us that we must emphasize and prioritize Ahavat Yisrael to stay united as a nation.

Yosef’s Persistence by Zachary Orenshein

When You Luz, You Lose! by Dr. Joel M. Berman