The Divrei Torah in this section have been translated by Rav Reuven Ungar, Director of Alumni Affairs
The Recitation of the Shma in the Exile
By: Rav Aryeh ben-Yaakov
Mashgiach of Yeshivat Hesder Sha'alvim
In the course of the Parshiot of Vayigash/Vayechi, Chazal inform us of two recitations of the Shma. The initial recitation transpired when Yaakov met Yoseph (46:29). This happened when Yaakov initially made contact with Egyptian soil. Prior to his death, Yaakov gathered his children; they recited the Shma while he responded by blessing The Name (Baruch Shem Kevodo Malchuto Le'Olam Vaed). The gemara (Masecet Pesachim 56a) and the Rambam (Hilchot Kriyat Shma, 1:4) derive halachot from this encounter.
What links the events recorded in the Torah with the recitation of the Shma?
The exile contains two components. A.
The Jewish People must realize that despite being in a difficult position, our internal holiness is not impinged. We are still entrusted with our task of advocating the Oneness of The Name; subsequently we are not truly subservient to the foreign nations.
Chazal reveal to us that Yaakov desired to convey the end (kaytz) of the exile to his children. Yaakov intended to explain the secret of the exile-despite the external exile from the
Thus, while beginning the exile to
Precisely Yaakov is the forefather who instituted the prayer of Ma'ariv. Tefillat Ma'ariv is classified as an optional prayer. To pray at night- symbolic of the exile- is derived from Yaakov, who understood that we are eternally connected to Hashem, despite times of darkness and distance from The Land. From the darkness the descendants of Yaakov call out "Hashem Elokeinu, Hashem Echad!"
1: Parshat Shavua
2: Parshat Shavua > Vayechi
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