There is a Torah concept that the name of something is an exact expression of its essence. The Hebrew word for a ‘thing’ (d’var) also comes to mean a ‘word’. When Ya’acov’s sons were gathered around their father on his death bed they waited to hear when the Moshiach would arrive. Ya’akov felt that he could express this secret to his sons because in their names he did not see the letters ‘Ches’ and ‘Tes’ (which comes together to spell ‘chet’ which loosely means ‘sin’). Because Ya’akov saw that there was no ‘sin’ within his sons he felt they could merit to know about the end of days. However, the Medrash tells us that the Divine Spirit left Ya’akov and he ‘ forgot’ what he was going to say – so, the Torah passage continues to say that Ya’akov blesses his children, with no further mention of the end of days.

However, a deeper understanding of this passage outlines the very essence of a Jew’s ability and strength in the world.

We can understand why Ya’akov could not reveal Moshiach’s arrival differently. When he looked further into the names of his children, he found no ‘Kuf’ and ‘Tzaddi’ (spelling ‘Keitz’ which means ‘end’). Ya’akov saw that there was no ‘end’ through his sons and blessed them instead. But what does it mean that there was no ‘Keitz’ within his sons, and why does Ya’akov go on to bless them? If he had suddenly forgotten when Moshiach was coming, he should have said “I’ll get back to you about the Moshiach, in the meantime here are a few brachas to keep you going.” And if we study the brachas carefully, they don’t seem too positive. Reuven gets scolded for being restless, Shimon and Levi are cursed for their anger – and so on and so forth. So, Ya’akov, instead of telling his sons what will happen at the end of days seemingly forgets (or realises that he can’t tell them) and so goes on to ‘bless’ relating their weaknesses? What’s going on?

Perhaps we can answer all these questions as follows. When Ya’akov decided to tell his sons what will happen at the end of days, he realised that he could tell them when Moshiach will come and how to wait for his arrival. At the same time, though, he could also keep the time of Moshiach’s arrival secret so that his sons (ie. the Jewish people) would not simply wait until Moshiach arrives, but they would bring him earlier, because we know that Moshiach could come at the allocated time (after 6000 years) or the Jews could fulfill their purpose in life and ‘fix’ the sin of Adam HaRishon and therefore bring Moshiach earlier.

We now see why the apparently superfluous brachas given by Ya’acov are so essential at this point. If the Jewish people know our strengths to do G-d’s will, and in addition if we identify our weaknesses in order to work on those areas in which we are deficient, then we can bring the redemption of the Jewish people sooner rather than later.

Please G-d, we will all merit to use our strengths and work on our weaknesses to accomplish what Ya’akov Avinu felt we had the ability to do, and bring Moshiach speedily in our days. Amen.

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