Vayichi – Blessings of the Land

Chazal state: All of the blessings, goodness, and consolations that the Holy One Blessed be He bestows upon the Jewish people, He brings from Zion.


Rabbi Moshe D. Lichtman (

Before Ya’akov Avinu passed on to the next world, he gave his grandsons, Efrayim and
Menasheh, the following blessing: May the angel who redeemed me from all evil bless the lads,

and may my name be called upon them, and the names of my fathers Avraham and
Yitzchak; and may they multiply greatly in the midst of the land (48:16).
The Gra points out a “problem” with this blessing: seemingly, it did not come true! If one
studies the various censuses in the Torah, one does not find that the tribes of Efrayim and
Menasheh were more populous than any other tribe. What happened to Ya’akov’s blessing
And may they multiply greatly?
The Gra answers that the blessing did come true, exactly as Ya’akov Avinu intended. He
blessed his grandsons that they should multiply specifically in Eretz Yisrael, as it says, May
they multiply greatly in the midst of the Land. And that is exactly what happened.
Immediately after the Jews conquered Eretz Yisrael at the time of Yehoshua, the verse says,
The children of Yosef spoke to Yehoshua saying, “Why have you given me an inheritance of
[only] one lot and one portion, when I am a numerous people, for the Lord has blessed me so
much (lit., until now – עד אשר עד כה ברכני ה')” (Yehoshua 17:14). In other words, they said: In
the short time “until now” (עד כה) that we have been in Eretz Yisrael, God has blessed us so
greatly that we need more land.
How did Yehoshua respond to their request? If you are such a numerous people, ascend to
the forest… (ibid. 17:15). Chazal comment: “He [Yehoshua] said to them, ‘Go and hide in
the forests, so that the evil eye will have no control over you’ ” (Bava Batra 118a). That is,
Yehoshua was afraid that such a quick and wondrous proliferation would provoke the “evil
eye” to take action against them. Therefore, he advised them to hide in a place where the
“evil eye” has no dominion. All of this, says the Gra, was a result of Ya’akov’s blessing: May
they multiply greatly in the midst of the Land. (Found in Itturei Torah, vol. 2, p. 439.)
This is yet another example of Ya’akov Avinu’s efforts to ensure that his descendants do
not become too complacent in exile. By making their blessing contingent upon Eretz Yisrael,
he was forcing them (to some degree) to long for their true homeland. We, too, should long
for Eretz Yisrael for the same reason. After all, Chazal state:
All of the blessings, goodness, and consolations that the Holy One Blessed be He
bestows upon the Jewish people, He brings from Zion: Torah [comes] from Zion, as
it says, For out of Zion the Torah will go forth (Yeshayah 2:3). Blessing [comes] from
Zion, as it says, May the Lord bless you from Zion (Tehillim 128:5). [God] appears
from Zion, as it says, Out of Zion, the perfection of beauty, God appeared (ibid. 50:2).
Support [comes] from Zion, as it says, And from Zion He will support you (ibid. 20:3).
Life [comes] from Zion, as it says, Like the dew of Chermon that descends upon the
mountains of Zion, for there the Lord has commanded the blessing, eternal life (ibid.
133:3). Greatness [comes] from Zion, as it says, [God is] great in Zion (ibid. 99:2).
Salvation [comes] from Zion, as it says, O, that Israel’s salvation would come out of
Zion (ibid. 14:7). (Midrash Tehillim 14:6)

Why would anyone want to live anywhere else?



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