This week's Kli Yakar is in the merit of all wrongly imprisoned captives, including:
Our MIA soldiers:
Guy ben Rina
Ron ben Batya
Yekutiel Yehudah Nachman ben Sara
Tzvi ben Penina
Zecharia Shlomo ben Miriam
Our brothers wrongly imprisoned in America (or prevented from living a life in Eretz Yisrael):
Yehonatan ben Malka
Evyatar Yisrael Eliyahu ben Gila Chana Slonim
Elor ben Oshra
"Yosef said to his father, 'They are my sons, whom Hashem gave me here.' So he said, 'Now bring them near to me, so that I may bless them.' " (48:9)
There appears to be a question of why they deserve to be blessed. After all, the Kli Yakar points out, terrible people, like Ahab and Yeravam eventually will descend from them.
He says that Yosef Tzaddik’s answer is a sort of favorable judgment on the Jewish people:
….their mother is an Egyptian, the daughter of Potifera, the priest of On, meaning a priest of occult worship. Therefore, descendents like that, who would engage in occult worship, were destined to come from her.
But my view is that they deserve to be blessed.
And if not, then why did Hashem bless Yitzchak when Esav and Yaakov came from him because Rivka was the daughter of Betuel the Arami? But certainly, Hashem doesn’t worry about the blemished seed and blessed him for the sake of the holy seed, which is deserving of blessing. And so You should bless them because in my view, the are deserving of blessing because “ba’asher hu sham—in the place where he is currently” - each one is seed that Hashem has blessed.
(He was rendered harmless at that moment due to being nearly dead of fever and dehydration).
Rashi explains it to mean that Hashem judges you according to your deeds now, not those you may commit in the future.
So the Kli Yakar is pointing to two merits, two favorable judgements for the Jewish people:
- A Jew is basically holy and good. A Jew may do bad things due to a certain genetic disposition inherited from less kosher ancestors, like Betuel and Potifera. While it in no way excuses the transgression, it does imply that the sinning Jew is not entirely at fault—partly at fault, yes. Even mostly at fault. But not entirely. He or she still has something (even a little something) in his or her favor.
- You can make yourself worthy of blessing at any given moment, just by doing the right thing (or by refraining from doing the wrong thing) right now. Hashem is always looking at our good points and at our better moments. He is always looking to judge us favorably.
Hashem Prefers the Small and Seemingly Insignificant
"May the angel who redeemed me from all evil bless the youths, and may they be called by my name and the name of my fathers, Avraham and Yitzchak, and may they multiply abundantly like fish, in the midst of the land." (48:16)
The Kli Yakar takes this opportunity to note that Hashem often chooses the lesser one.
The smaller one is, the more Hashem wants to raise and increase him. He brings several examples of firstborns (Yishmael, Esav, Reuven, and Menashe) who were skipped over and whose birthright was given over to a younger brother (Yitzchak, Yaakov, Yehudah, and Efraim).
In a later parsha, the Kli Yakar points out that Mt. Sinai was a smaller mountain. And in the story of Gidon in Judges, Gidon was the youngest of the smallest family in the smallest tribe. Yet Hashem chose him to save the nation out of all the myriads of others He could have chosen among Am Yisrael.
The Kli Yakar states that this Divine preference toward the smaller and lesser ones is a hint. "V’hamaskilim yavinu—and the wise ones will understand."
Rabbi Shlomo Ephraim of Luntschitz (1550-1619) lived in Bohemia (which is today Poland and Czechoslovakia). He served as rabbi and dayan and wrote several books, the most well-known being his commentary on the Chumash known as the Kli Yakar.
This is my own translation and therefore, any errors are also mine.