The Weekly Sedra – Parshas Vayechi

by Shalom Goldberg

The Rebbe says:

1. In this week’s Torah portion Yakov Avinu (Jacob our forefather) blesses each one of his twelve children.

When Yakov Avinu blesses his son Asher he says, “From Asher- his bread is rich, he will provide kingly delicacies”.

Rashi (an acronym for Rabbi Shlomo Yitzchaki) explains this blessing and says: “The food which comes from the land that Asher received as an inheritance is rich and fat because there are many olives in his portion which give oil like a spring. As we see, Moshe Rabbeinu (Moses our teacher) also blessed Asher by saying, ‘And he will (even be able to) dip his feet in oil’”.

2. The Rebbe now says that there must be more that we can learn from the blessing that Asher received:

We know that everything we have here in the physical world is also in the spiritual world. In fact, the real way it works is the other way around; since the spiritual world has it, it manifests here in the physical world also.

Therefore, there must also be a spiritual meaning to the blessing (that Yakov Avinu gave), “From Asher- his bread is rich”, and (to the blessing that Moshe Rabbeinu gave), “He will dip his feet in oil”.

(Of course we cannot take away the simple meaning of the blessing- that Asher physically had a lot of oil in his land, however there must also be a deeper spiritual meaning).

3. The Rebbe now begins to explain what Asher’s blessings mean spiritually:

Oil resembles our power of intellect which is the highest part of the person, just like oil that floats above any other liquid. We also see this clearly from the Talmud when it tells us that the people of the city Tokea were very smart because they consumed a lot of oil.

Feet resemble our ability to do something just because we are told to do so, without even thinking about it. [If someone had to explain to their feet why they should listen to them when they tell them to move- this person would be in big trouble]!

4. The Rebbe continues to explain Asher’s blessings spiritually:

Externally, intellect is the highest part of a person and feet are the lowest part of the person. However in Moshe Rabbeinu’s blessing to Asher we see that the feet actually have an advantage that the mind does not have: Moshe Rabbeinu says, “He will dip his feet in oil”, which shows us that the oil is subservient to the feet (the feet are the main thing and the oil is only there for the feet).

Question: What is the advantage that feet (doing something because you are told) have over oil (understanding what you are told to do)?

Answer: “Oil” means that one learns Torah because he enjoys the wonderful wisdom that it has to offer and that one serves Hashem (G-d) with his intellect.

“Feet” means that one gives himself over to Hashem without question and serves Him because that’s what He told him to do.

Now we can understand the advantage of feet/subservience over oil/intellect:

If someone serves Hashem based on his intellect alone he can only reach a level that his intellect will take him to. Moreover, being that intellect is limited, his connection to Hashem will be limited.

The obvious downside to this is that since Hashem is unlimited he is not fulfilling his full potential of connecting to Hashem in an unlimited way.

However, if someone is subservient to Hashem he is serving Hashem at Hashem’s level (which is unlimited) and therefore his connection to Hashem is unlimited.

5. The Rebbe now spells out what the blessing to Asher was spiritually:

The blessing that Yakov Avinu and Moshe Rabbeinu were giving to Asher was that he (and his children) should serve Hashem with subservience and to accept the yoke of Heaven without question.

6. The lesson that each and every one of us can learn out:

We have the ability to connect to Hashem in an unlimited way and all we have to do for this is to let our inner ability of subservience shine.

Translated and adapted by Shalom Goldberg. Taken from Likutei Sichos volume one, the first Sicha.

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