[P> X:Y (Z)] and [S> X:Y (Z)] indicate start of a parsha p’tucha or s’tuma respectively. X:Y is Perek:Pasuk of the beginning of the parsha; (Z) is the number of p'sukim in the parsha.
Kohen - First Aliya - 13 p'sukim -
SDT Why would Yaakov insist that Yosef swear - didn't he trust him? Among other reasons, the oath might prove necessary in obtaining permission from Par'o for the funeral. Even if Par'o would have been inclined to say "no", he would respect an oath. This, according to Midrash, because Yosef had sworn not to divulge a particular secret about Par'o (that he, Yosef, knew more languages than Par'o). Par'o could not say to Yosef, "I don't care what promises you made", etc. There are commentaries who suggest another possible reason for making Yosef swear - Yosef might be upset about his mother's not being buried in the "proper" place, and he might not be favorable to his father's request.
SDT Yaakov asks Yosef for Chesed v'Emet, True Kindness. It is usually considered that tending to the burial of the dead is the purest form of kindness, because, among other reasons, it is the one situation in which the recipient of your kindness cannot repay the favor himself. It is an act of kindness without recompense.
Commentators question this idea in Yosef's case. We are taught that Yosef merited having his remains taken out of Egypt as a reward for his attention to Yaakov's wishes. How can we refer to what he did for his father as Chesed shel Emet? One answer is that Yosef received reward in kind only by being taken out of Egypt and buried in the Land of Israel. His body spent a long time in Egypt. His act of True Kindness to his father was that Yaakov's body did not spend even a moment buried in Egypt. For this, Yosef was not paid back in kind; his action on behalf of Yaakov's funeral arrangements was indeed Chesed & Emet.
Another understanding of the concept of CHESED SHEL EMET is that when one does a favor for a living person, one never knows if things will actually turn out all right. It might look like a good thing to do, but things can turn out "don't do me any favors". An act of kindness to the dead is an unquestioned act of Chesed.
[P> 48:1 (22)] Some time later, Yosef is informed (by Efrayim who regularly ministers to and learns Torah with Yaakov) that Yaakov is sick ("at death's door"). Yosef brings his two sons with him to Yaakov (so that they can receive his blessing). Yaakov is strengthened by the news of Yosef's impending visit (Thus is the power of Bikur Cholim).
SDT As to who told Yosef that his father was sick, it is Rashi who brings the opinion that it was Efrayim, who tended to Yaakov's needs in Goshen while Yosef was in Egypt proper. The Midrash says that it was A-s'nat, Yosef's wife, who told him.
Speaking of A-s'nat... The Midrash says that she was Dina's daughter, who was raised by Potifar in Egypt. The Midrash also says that when Potifar's wife accused Yosef of improper advances, it was A-s'nat who privately told Potifar the truth, thus saving Yosef's life.
Yaakov tells Yosef of HaShem's promises to him and his descendants and of Rachel's death and burial. He then assures Yosef that his two sons, Efrayim and Menashe, will be equal to Yaakov's sons. (This in essence, is the double portion of inheritance that Yaakov is giving to "his heart's first-born", the elder of his beloved Rachel's sons.) Then Yaakov takes notice of the boys and asks Yosef to present them so that he can bless them.
Yaakov's reference to fish in his blessings for Efrayim and Menashe (and all Jewish children in perpetuity) is explained on at least two levels. Fish are prolific; Yaakov was blessing his descendants that they should become a large nation. It is also known that the EYIN HARA has no hold over fish (which had something to do with their survival during the MABUL without having to be taken into the Ark). And this too was part of his bracha. (BTW, the Yiddish name Fischel (fish) is often paired with Efrayim; obviously, this bracha is the source of that name- pair.)
Shlishi - Third Aliya - 6 p'sukim - 48:17-22
On this same day, Yaakov blesses them by saying that the traditional blessing for sons shall be: "May G-d make you like Efrayim and Menashe".
Think about this... Imagine the panic that Yosef
must have felt when he witnessed the potential of "history repeating
itself". How can Yaakov do what he was doing when he was painfully aware of
the consequences of favoring one son and of the jealousy that it creates
Perhaps Yaakov Avinu saw that his two grandsons possessed the qualities that "allowed" him to do what he did. Two major personality traits that a person should strive for (and that parents shall try to teach their children) are: not being boastful when in a superior position and not being resentful when in an inferior position. Efrayim was destined to become greater than his older brother Menashe. These two brothers were such that Efrayim did not lord himself over Menashe, nor was Menashe jealous of Efrayim's prominence. What greater blessing can a father give his sons than "May G-d make you like Efrayim and Menashe!"
Yaakov then tells Yosef that he is about to die; that G-d will be with the family-nation; that He will restore them to the Land of their ancestors; and that he (Yaakov) has provided Yosef with an additional portion of the Land.
SDT Rashi says that Yaakov wanted to reveal the "KEITZ" (end of time), but was not allowed to do so by G-d. The original prophecy concerning the exile in Egypt was given to Avraham in the "Covenant between the Pieces". There he was told that his descendants would be oppressed for 400 years. In fact, the people were enslaved for 210 years. (Actually, they were in Egypt for 210 years; actual enslavement was significantly less.) The additional 190 years is calculated from the birth of Yitzchak - once Avraham had his first descendant, the "clock of exile", so to speak, began ticking.
Egyptian exile would have been more tolerable, had our ancestors known about this 190 year "grace period". This is the KEITZ (KUF (100) + TZADI (90) = 190) that Yaakov wanted to reveal to his sons. But this he was not permitted to reveal it.
(The blessings, often mixed with fatherly criticism, combine to become the brachot of the Tribes.)
Yaakov's words about Reuven speak of his unrealized potential to have been the leader and the indiscretion that lost him the position of leader.
[P> 49:5 (3)] Yaakov refers to the violence of Shimon and Levi. He curses their anger - not them.
Important lesson for us all from this point. Don't say to your son, "BAD BOY!" Say, "you did a bad thing." It might not seem to be so important, but it is. Especially, because we don't say these kind of things once, but rather countless times over many years.
[P> 49:8 (5)] Yehuda receives the brightest words - he is promised the leadership and respect of his brothers.
The Baal HaTurim points out that the initials of GUR ARYEI YEHUDA - Gimel+Alef+Yud = 14, the numeric value of DAVID.
[P> 49:13 (1)] Zevulun is given the blessing of prosperity...
[P> 49:14 (2)] and Yissachar will carry the burden of Torah scholarship. (The image of a donkey indicates perseverance, strong-willed - qualities that are suitable for a scholar.)
Together, these two tribes will form a partnership that will be mutually beneficial.
[S> 49:16 (3)] Dan will be the judge (and upholder of the honor, the one that will avenge Israel by fighting the P'lishtim) of the people. Rashi says that this is a prophecy about Shimshon, who was from the tribe of Dan.
This parsha and Aliya finish with the famous 3-word pasuk: To Your salvation, I hope, HaShem. When a person sneezes, he is supposed to say L'SHU'ATCHA K'VITI HASEM. This is based on the fact that prior to Yaakov Avinu, there was no being sick before one died. Rather, the soul just left the body as it had been breathed in, through the nostrils, with a sneeze. Yaakov acknowledged the "gift" of being sick before death, so that one can put his affairs in order. A sneeze is no longer a sign of death, but just a reminder of illness (sometimes a symptom and sometimes just a reminder). This is why people say ASUTA or LIVRIYUT, or something like that, to a person who sneezes. But the sneezer himself quotes the words of Yaakov Avinu.
[S> 49:20 (1)] Asher's blessing also seems to be that of prosperity (and/or eloquence).
[S> 49:21 (1)] Naftali is likened to a swift deer (or spreading tree, according to other opinions) and is blessed with eloquence (and probably, prosperity).
[S> 49:22 (5)] Yosef's blessing is extensive and shows Yaakov's special love for him. It is the bracha of Avraham to Yitzchak and of Yitzchak to Yaakov that Yaakov gives to Yosef, son of Rachel.
A fruitful son is Yosef. BEN PORAT = 732. Baal HaTurim points out that this is the G'matriya of Efrayim and Menashe: 1+80+200+10+40 (331) + 6 + 40+50+300+5 (395) = 732
Shishi - Sixth Aliya -27 p'sukim - 49:27-50:20
Note that Reuven's bracha is in the same parsha as the "introduction" of Yaakov's parting words to his children. Binyamin's bracha is part of the parsha which concludes the sedra, and the Book of B'reishit. Furthermore, some of the sons have their blessing in a parsha p'tucha and some in s'tumot. These are just observations; no suggestion as to significance, if any, is implied.
Commentaries point out that Yaakov's words don't
always seem to be blessings - but they do contain implied blessings and
Yaakov dies. The wording in the Torah is indirect - the words death or dying are not used - indicating the special "quality of life" (strange term to use here, but purposely chosen) even in the death of Yaakov Avinu.
The Torah next tells of the preparation for burial. Yosef tells Par'o of his oath and receives permission for the funeral procession to Canaan. The funeral and mourning for Yaakov is elaborate and extensive.
When they return to Egypt, the brothers are filled with guilt feelings and offer themselves to Yosef as slaves. Once again, Yosef assures the brothers that all that has happened is G-d's will and for the best.
Yosef cries because the brothers are falsely accusing him of planning to take revenge against them.
Interesting (and sad) that part of their original problem was based upon false accusations by Yosef against his brothers.
According to Seder HaDorot HaKatzar, by MK Shlomo Benizri, the order in which the brothers died (over a period of 22 years) was Yosef, Shimon, Yehuda, Reuven, Binyamin, Yissachar, Asher, Zevulun, Gad, Dan, Naftali, Levi.
CHAZAK, CHAZAK, V’NITCHAZAK
Apparently, the phrase became an expression of encouragement at crucial junctures of one’s life. We apply this encouragement to the situation of completing the reading of the Torah (perhaps the original custom was to say the phrase at the end of the whole Torah, and subsequently it extended to the end of each Book).
Another possible origin would apply to the end of the whole Torah (not necessarily each book). The Haftara of Vzot HaBracha is the opening portion of Yehoshua, where we find G-d repeatedly encouraging the new leader of the People, the successor to Moshe Rabeinu, to be strong and courageous. CHAZAK VE’EMATZ. As we “relive” the experience of Moshe’s death and the final preparation to enter Eretz Yisrael, we too shower words of encouragement upon the person honored with the Aliya that finishes the Torah.
Whatever the origin, there is halachic opinion that the person with the CHAZAK Aliya should not say CHAZAK, CHAZAK, as it might constitute a HEFSEIK (interruption) between the reading of the Torah and his bracha. No problem for the congregation or for the Baal Korei to say it.
Final 4 p'sukim are reread for Maftir.