1. Today is Shabbos Chazak, when we complete the reading of one of the five books of the Pentateuch and we recite in unison: “Be strong, be strong, we shall strengthen ourselves.”

There is a special significance in the conclusion of the first book of the Torah, Bereishis. This point is made clear for us when we see that Rashi discusses in great detail, the many facets and reasons connected with the opening words of the Torah.

What lesson can we garner from the whole book of Bereishis for our personal Divine service, especially for the time that Bereishis is read and studied?

Bereishis is called the “Book of Yashar” as the Gemara says:

Which is the “Book of Yashar”...It is the book of Avraham, Yitzchok and Yaakov who are designated as righteous.... (Avodah Zarah 25a)

Thus, this book, which deals with the lives and deeds of our forefathers, is indeed a fitting introduction into Torah.

At the same time:

The deeds of the fathers are a sign for the children. (see Sotah 34a)

This will help us to see the division of Torah in its proper context. The last four books of the Pentateuch deal with the story of the Jewish people (the children) mainly after Matan Torah (the giving of the Torah at Sinai). The story of the fathers is told to us in Bereishis, and although they lived before Matan Torah, their lives served as a source of inspiration and strength for their offspring. The lives and “deeds of the fathers” set the path for the children.

This may be compared, by way of analogy, to the father who bequeaths to his son all that he worked and toiled for during his lifetime. The son does not have to labor in order to receive the inheritance; it is all ready. Similarly, all the positive levels attained by our forefathers during their lifetimes are transmitted intact to their descendants in all generations, automatically and without special labor. An example of this would be the power of faith which every Jew possesses without great effort, for we are “believers the children of believers.” To this basic inherited foundation we must add ourown contributions, and although we cannot compare to our forefathers, nevertheless, if we start with the powers they bequeathed to us we can accomplish similar accomplishments.

So, by following the direction “signs” of the “fathers,” we fulfill the same good deeds as they did, and the same inner satisfaction and spiritual accomplishment will also be reached by way of inheritance.

At the same time we must learn to be involved in our own individual areas of Divine service, with enthusiasm and toil. This is obvious from the lesson of the Avos.

Towards the end of the Laws of Teshuvah the Rambam speaks of the intention and goal of the commandments:

Let not man say, “I will observe the precepts of the Torah and occupy myself with its wisdom, in order that I many obtain all the blessings written in the Torah, or to attain life in the world to come”;... Whatever you do, do it out of love only.... It was the standard of the Patriarch Avraham whom G‑d called His lover, because he served only out of love. (Laws of Teshuvah beg. ch. 10:1,24)

This discussion sets the foundation for the exercise of free will in a person’s Divine service. For the Torah tells us:

See! Today I have set before you [a free choice] between life and good [on one side].... You must choose life. (Devarim 30:15-19)

Why did G‑d create a world in which there would be a choice between “life and good” on one side and “death and evil” on the other? So that the G‑d-given power of freewill and choice shall be utilized.

There can only be free choice when there are equal alternatives. Then his choice is not dictated or motivated by reason or evaluation, rather only because of his freewill. In other words his choice is not because one alternative is better, e.g. “life” and “good.” In that case he would be forcedbyreason to choose the better alternative, and then it would not be free choice. Rather, the choice must be made purely on the basis of his willpower “you must choose.” After making the choice you will see that you have chosen well and will benefit from the fruits of your efforts.

Thus, when the Torah tells us to choose “life” the Rambam explains that you should not choose this path because it is good and it will bring you life, rather you must serve G‑d out of love:

..But only because He is the master, it is right to serve Him; that is to serve Him out of love. (Ibid. 10:4)

Thus, man chooses to connect himself to G‑d and then he subsequently realizes that his choice brings him “life” and “good.”

Again the Rambam:

Such a man does what is truly right because it is truly right, and ultimately, happiness comes to him as a result of his conduct. (Ibid.:2)

As a consequence of his wise actions he will merit to receive the blessings enumerated in the Torah. He does not do Torah and mitzvos because of the good it holds in store, rather only because he chooses to do G‑d’s command — true Divine service out of love.

Yet, when we ponder this thought for a moment we realize the loftiness of this approach, that:

This standard is indeed a very high one.... It is the standard of the Patriarch Avraham....” (Ibid.)

We also perceive that Avraham reached this standard only after much spiritual self-development and self-perfection. We stop for a moment and ask, can this level of Divine service be demanded or expected from every Jew? Can we really exercise the true power of free will on the altruistic level of service out of love?!

Here we find that the answer is: “The deeds of the fathers will be a sign for the children.”

Even though we stand on the level where we are seemingly not capable of such altruism we must still function asifwewere; “(it) will be a sign.” Why? Because in our innermost essence the potential for service out of love is there in a latent state. As the Rambam explains:

One should always engage in the study of the Torah, even if not for its own sake; for he who begins thus will end by studying it for its own sake. (Ibid.:5)

This aphorism is further illuminated by Chassidus, which explains that inherent in the selfish approach may really be found, in the innermost and most essential level, the true desire for Torah for its own sake. This is the inheritance of the fathers to the children in an altruistic manner. It is incumbent upon every individual to reveal the inherent, latent power, from the potential to the kinetic.

The overall theme of the book of Bereishis is that “the deeds of the fathers will be a sign for the children.” This includes the aspect that the children possess the advantage of receiving the inheritance and at the same time they have the responsibility to add their own accomplishment and reveal their innate powers. And no matter how lofty the Divine service of the fathers was, they wait, anticipate and expect the input of the children so that they may rise by their own power to greater heights. Clearly we must accomplish this as quickly as possible — they are waiting for our work.

The book of Bereishis concludes with the words: “And placed in a sarcophagus in Egypt” (Bereishis 50:26), which signifies the complete absorption into the exile of Egypt. Since the “beginning is connected to the completion,” let us see what Rashi says on the verse, “In the beginning G‑d created the heavens and the earth”:

The Torah (which is the law book of Israel) should have commenced with the verse: “This month shall be unto you the first of the months,” which is the first commandment given to Israel. What is the reason, then, that it commences with the [account of] creation? Because of [the thought expressed in the text]: “He declared to His people the strength of His works [i.e., He gave an account of the work of creation], in order that He might give them the heritage of nations.” (Rashi, Bereishis 1:1)

Bereishis tells us of G‑d’s creation of the world, so that G‑d may give us the “heritage of nations.” However, first we must be in bondage in Egypt.

Similarly, the end of the book of Bereishis, which speaks of the beginning of the exile, is connected with the book of Shemos. Matan Torah, the premier theme of Shemos, is also related with the process by which the Jewish people convert the “heritage of nations” into the Holy Land of Israel. So the book of Shemos is also associated with the beginning of Torah.

Can we find the potential for this power of conquest and conversion, as well as the application of Torah to the world, in the deeds and actions of the Avos (fathers)?

The book of Bereishis carries the answer.

Rashi explains his initial concept further:

For should the peoples of the world say to Israel, “You are robbers, because you took by force the lands of the seven nations of Canaan,” Israel may reply to them, “All the earth belongs to the Holy One, Blessed be He; He created it and gave it to whom He pleased. When He willed He gave it to them, and when He willed He took it from them and gave it to us. (Rashi, ibid.)

A perplexing thought crops up: why should the protestations of goyim cause a change in Torah, so that instead of commencing with “This month” it commences with “In the beginning”?

Since we cannot reconcile such a thought, it therefore behooves us to say that the argument must have an independent, legitimate and logical basis for which the only logical answer will be: “He declared to His people the strength of His works.” And since He declared only to “His people,” we have to inform the non-Jew.

The strength of their argument is that since G‑d gave the land to these nations we have no right to conquer it and to convert it to be Eretz Yisrael. The answer is: G‑d wants the Jewish people to convert the “heritage of nations — Canaan” to be Eretz Yisrael — but it must be carried out in a businesslike fashion.

When can we be termed “robbers,” when the land is denuded and exploited. But, we have added to and improved the land by living in the land according to Torah and mitzvos; the land itself is improved, refined and uplifted.

This also explains the need for the dispersion of the Jewish people to the far corners of the world during the galus to refine the lost sparks. There are scenarios under which we could all be in Eretz Yisrael and still refine the lost sparks in the world. Why must we be dispersed all over the world? But the answer is, that also the space of the world must be refined, so that alltheworld will have the aspect of Eretz Yisrael; by being converted from the heritage of the nations.

With this in mind, we can understand how the book of Bereishis serves as a preparation and source of power for the Divine service of the Jewish people in the diaspora.

The purpose of Matan Torah is to effect a change in the “heritage of the nations,” which is why it was preceded by the exile in Egypt.

But we are looking for the “deeds of the fathers” which will give the “sign” for the children.

Well, we do find this in the case of Avraham; he had to function in Canaan while the Canaanites were still there! Later Yosef was taken to Egypt to be followed by his brothers and Yaakov. This descent of the Avos served as the sign for the later complete absorption of the Jewish people in the enslavement of Egypt.

But it also serves as a source of strength. At the same time we find a sign of preparation for Matan Torah in Bereishis also. When Yehudah was sent to Egypt ahead of Yaakov his mission was to establish a school for Torah study. Generally speaking, the Avos had observed Torah, although it was not yet given, during their years in Israel. Now Yaakov wanted to lay the foundation for Torah in Mitzrayim, which also served as the potential for Matan Torah after Mitzrayim.

Thus, when we conclude the story of Bereishis and its inherent power in potentia, we say: “Chazak — be strong” — three times, for we need this strength to approach the work of the galus in the book of Shemos, which will ultimately bring to the highest accomplishments.

All this expresses itself in the daily action of a Jew. How does the day begin? With the prayer “Modeh Ani — I offer thanks,” the aspect of submission of the individual. This leads to further prayer which expresses thanks and praise for the physical gifts of G‑d — sight, mobility, the world of flora and fauna. Finally the prayer reaches the Shema — study of Torah — and only after the prayer does one move on from the synagogue to the study hall for intensive Torah study.

This long, drawn out daily process is necessary to prepare and outline the role of conquering the world with Torah — first we must go down into the world and then raise it.

May G‑d grant that at the close of the book of Bereishis, the “Book of Yashar,” we will take the deeds of the fathers and apply the inherent power to conclude all that we are responsible for in the course of the diaspora. The fathers have already given us the power, we must reveal it.

The deed is of the essence, to complete all our work in the galus and thereby merit the true and complete redemption through our righteous Mashiach speedily in our times.

* * *

2. When we speak of our role and responsibility in the final years of the diaspora to purify the world and bring the ultimate redemption, we must also remember that our attitude should be that the work has already been completed and therefore, “How long must the galus go on!” Surely Mashiach must come forthwith.

Bringing Mashiach quicker has a special connection with Jewish women. The Gemara tells us:

As the reward for the righteous women who lived in that generation were the Israelites delivered from Egypt. (Sotah 11b)

The Gemara goes on to describe the meritorious actions of the righteous women. Despite the difficulties of slavery and the suffering of Egyptian bondage they bore and birthed a generation of sons and daughters who became the “Legions of G‑d”:

When the time of childbirth arrived, they went and were delivered in the field...The Holy One, Blessed be He...provided for them two cakes, one of oil and one of honey, as it is said, “And He made him suck honey out of the rock and oil....” [The Israelite women with their babes] broke through [the earth] and came forth like the herbage of the field, as it is said, “I caused you to multiply as the bud of the field” and when the babes had grown up, they came in flocks to their homes.... At the time the Holy One, Blessed be He, revealed Himself by the Red Sea, they recognized Him first, as it is said, “This is my G‑d and I will praise Him.” (Ibid.)

They recognized G‑d even before Moshe and Aharon!

This description of the Gemara relates to the narrative of the Torah in the portion we will read at Minchah today. The Torah tells us:

The Israelites were fertile and prolific, and their population increased. They became so numerous.... (Shemos 1:7)

The Jewish women realized their responsibility to raise a generation of children who would become the “Tzivos Hashem.” Notwithstanding all the difficulties, and in spite of Pharaoh’s decree to cast the boys into the river, they continued to bear and raise their children. Amongst the Jewish women there were several unique personalities who encouraged and aided the others. Shifra and Puah (Yocheved and Miriam) disregarded Pharaoh’s decree:

..and they did not do as the Egyptian king had ordered them. They allowed the infant boys to live, (Ibid.:17)

and, as Rashi explains: “They provided the babies with water and food,” for which they were later rewarded.

A question comes to mind. G‑d had promised to redeem the Jewish people, why does the Talmud say that we were redeemed as a reward for the righteous women? We must understand this concept within the proper context and from the correct perspective.

The Holy One, Blessed be He, had promised to liberate the Jews from Egypt. “G‑d is sure to grant you special providence and bring you out of the land” (Bereishis 50:24). However the date of that deliverance was unsure. Therefore, the Jewish people needed a special merit to make the redemption come sooner. This was the merit of the righteous women.

The conduct and accomplishments of those righteous women of that generation provides us with the model from which we must garner a lesson and directive for Jewish women of all generations. This lesson will assume special emphasis in this generation of the “footsteps of Mashiach,” for the AriZal teaches that the souls of the generation of Mashiach are the reincarnation of the souls of the Jews who left Egypt.

The lesson is clear. Women of our generation must be zealously devoted to their purpose and mission, to bear and raise sons and daughters who will be the modern day Tzivos Hashem. Then those faithful mothers will be ready to walk proudly with their children to the true and complete redemption.

This directive is clearly derived with the added emphasis of a deduction, a minori ad majus:

The righteous women of that generation labored under the servitude of Egyptian bondage, they suffered the difficulties of slavery and the tragic decree of infanticide. Yet, they were not stymied by the torture, and carried on with their mission and role with firm and unbending faith in the Almighty. And, the Holy One, Blessed be He, did take care of them and their children, “He gave them to suck honey,” and brought them back in “flocks to their homes.”

How much more so in our generation, and in this land, where there are no difficulties, and assistance is extended to the Jewish people in many areas. Certainly, here and now, Jewish women can and must fulfill their mission to raise Tzivos Hashem, without any reservations (which are based on the temptations of the evil impulse, or the influence of the surrounding culture).

It is certain and axiomatic, beyond the shadow of a doubt, that Jewish mothers should not worry about the question of livelihood — for the Omnipotent One showed us that He could care for the needs and requirements of Jewish children under much more extreme conditions.

Therefore, just as then: “As the reward for the righteous women who lived in that generation were the Israelites delivered from Egypt,” so too, will their merit redeem us from this galus.

When the righteous women of our generation will accept upon themselves the discomfort of pregnancy and the pains of labor and childbirth in order to raise a generation of Tzivos Hashem, in their merit will all the Jewish people be delivered from galus with the true and complete redemption.

It should be added that in this week’s portion — Vayechi — we find an amazing lesson concerning the power of Jewish women relative to redemption.

In Yaakov’s dialogue with Yosef he refers to the burial of Rachel:

When I was coming from Padan, [your mother] Rachel died on me. It was in Canaan, a short distance before we came to Ephrath. I buried her there along the road to Ephrath [Beth Lechem]. (Bereishis 48:7)

Is this not paradoxical? Why did Yaakov remind Yosef of the fact that his mother was not carried to the reserved burial place, at the time that he is requesting Yosef to do just that?

Rashi of course explains Yaakov’s words to mean, that he should not be deterred by this consideration:

And although I trouble you to take me for burial in the land of Canaan and I did not do this for your mother, which I might easily have done since she died quite close to Beth Lechem,...and I buried her there and did not carry her even the short distance to Beth Lechem to bring her into a city. I know that in your heart you feel some resentment against me. Know, however, that I buried her there by the command of G‑d in order that she might help her children when Nevuzaraden would take them into captivity. For when they were passing along that road Rachel came forth from her grave and stood by her tomb weeping and beseeching mercy for them as it is said: “A voice is heard in Ramah, [the sound of weeping ... Rachel weeping for her children]” and the Holy One, Blessed be He, replied to her, “There is a reward for your work says the L‑rd...for your children will return to their own border.” (Rashi, loc. cit.)

This shows us that the deliverance was effected because of the accomplishments of our mother Rachel.

The episode of the destruction of the Holy Temple and march into captivity is poignantly described in Midrash Eichah. There we are told that the Prophet Yirmeyahu called Avraham, Yitzchok, Yaakov and Moshe to come before G‑d, to plead for the Jewish people and to try to appease G‑d. Despite all their protestations G‑d was not appeased, until:

At that moment, the Matriarch Rachel broke forth into speech before the Holy One, Blessed be He, and said: “Sovereign of the Universe, it is revealed before You...,” forthwith the mercy of the Holy One, Blessed be He, was stirred and He said, “For your sake, Rachel, I will restore Israel to their place,” and so it is written, “A voice is heard in Ramah...Rachel weeping for her children...there is a reward for your work...your children will return to their own border.” (Eichah Rabbah, Proem 24)

Here too we can find a vital lesson for Jewish women today.

Let us first analyze this Rashi, for there are many important points to be derived from Rashi’s words.

Why did Yaakov assume that Yosef felt some resentment against him? Yosef knew Yaakov’s greatness, would he have second-guessed his father? He surely would have understood that Yaakov had a good reason for what he did.

Furthermore, the setting is strange. Yosef comes to Yaakov when he is lying on his death-bed; would he have felt negative emotions at that time?

This proves for us, that in fact, the suggestion that Rachel should have been buried in the Cave of Machpelah is just, and that Yosef was indeed justified in his feeling of resentment. So much so, that Yaakov did have to justify his actions in order to assuage his feeling.

Here we should take a second look at the specific emotion mentioned by Rashi. Rashi does not state that Yosef second-guessed Yaakov. On the contrary, he knew that Yaakov probably had a good reason for what he did. Despite this, Yosef was upset about this matter because it was important to him and it bothered him. He therefore wanted to hear some words of reassurance from Yaakov to soothe his heart.

This approach in Torah is proper. When a disciple sees some inexplicable conduct on the part of his teacher, if the subject affects him and bothers him he must seek an explanation — not that he should challenge, but he must question.

In all areas of Torah when a question arises one should not say, “Who am I to question, certainly the sages knew what is right.” On the contrary, if something seems strange or wrong he should not sleep until he finds the answer.

[This is why the sages told us of the merit of the righteous women in Egyptian bondage. Although G‑d had promised to liberate the Jewish people, logic tells us that they needed some merit for which the redemption would be a reward.]

This was Yosef’s feeling about his mother’s burial. Did Yaakov satisfy Yosef’s complaint? Why should Rachel be denied burial in the Cave of Machpelah because of the needs of the later exiles? Did this reason satisfy Rachel? She certainly knew the greatness of being buried next to Yaakov in the Cave of Machpelah! And how does Yaakov take the liberty to deprive her of that important right?

But the answer is that when Rachel knows that she would be of assistance to her children she is happy to be buried on the wayside and she waives and relinquishes her right to burial in Machpelah.

If Rachel is happy, because she will be of assistance to her descendants, then what can Yosef say! Certainly any negative feelings he may have experienced in his heart were only for the good and honor of his mother. After Yaakov explained to Yosef that it was for Rachel’s benefit to be buried by the wayside near Ephrath, Yosef’s feelings were at ease.

This all goes to show us the immeasurable greatness of Rachel, who gladly and happily was willing to forego the advantage of burial in Machpelah, in order to assist her children.

But ponder this for a moment.

Rachel surely appreciated the great quality of our Father Yaakov. Being a prophetess she knew the importance of being buried in proximity to Yaakov. Especially when in Machpelah she would also be near Yitzchok and Rivkah, Avraham and Sarah, as well as Adam and Chavah.

Is there any question that she wanted to be in the Machpelah with the Patriarch Yaakov?

Notwithstanding this, when she became aware that she would be needed on the day of Nevuzaraden’s march into captivity, Rachel relinquished her right to be buried beside Yaakov and gave precedence to burial on the roadway, so that she could pray for mercy and G‑d would answer her: “Your children will return to their own border.”

This shows us her unbelievable devotion and sacrifice. She could have had the merit of common burial with Yaakov for hundreds and thousands of years. Yet she opted for helping a later generation of Jews who would be in an unworthy condition. [They deserved exile. “Because of our sins were we exiled from our land.” Nevuzaraden would have had no power over them, if they were not deserving of punishment from G‑d.]

Yet, for those rebellious children Rachel gives up her greatest zechus, for thousands of years. She would not have rested in peace in the Machpelah if she knew that her children were languishing and suffering in the galus.

This point reveals for us why it was in fact Rachel who moved G‑d to promise redemption.

Yaakov and the other Patriarchs and Matriarchs were laid to rest in the Cave of Machpelah, but Rachel, who could likewise have found her rest there, gave up that right and remained on the road to Ephrath, to stand guard and help her children at the time of Nevuzaraden. Only she can stand before G‑d and awaken His mercy, for she can challenge G‑d:

..Whose mercy is greater, Your mercy, or the mercy of a creature of flesh and blood? ...forthwith the mercy of the Holy One, Blessed be He, was stirred, and He said, “For thy sake, Rachel, I will restore Israel to their place...and, your children will return to their own border.” (Ibid.)

It is Rachel’s conduct which stands as a shining example for all Jewish women throughout all generations, until our own generation. They must do whatever they can to bring about the condition of returning the children to their borders.

The difference between the final redemption and the earlier redemptions is that this time no one will remain in the galus. Therefore, so long as a single Jew is still in exile the entire nation waits for that individual.

We don’t stand with hands folded! We must work hard to show that we hope for the salvation and do everything to make it happen sooner.

When a Jew, who has been “lost among the nations” and, in his ignorance, is far away from Torah and mitzvos, is reached and encouraged to approach Yiddishkeit and Torah and mitzvos, he is the “child returning to his border,” which brings the ultimate return of all the Jewish people to the physical borders of the Holy Land.

Rachel, our Mother, set the example and paved the way for all Jewish women to follow. Her care and devotion for her children knew no boundaries and she received G‑d’s own promise of redemption. From here every Jewish woman may learn to worry about and devote herself to the good of the Jewish people even when it means personal sacrifices.

Rachel made the supreme sacrifice for the sake of the exiled Jews of a much later generation, how much more so must every Jewish woman, today, make the small sacrifice, for Jews in our own generation.

It may entail sacrificing some fancy meal, or being away from home for a night, in order to reach out to the children who have been “lost among the nations.” Just show them the right way of Jewish living and you will bring them back to the Jewish borders!

The directive also generates the potential for success. You will see the results of your activities.

There is much to be gleaned from these teachings of the righteous women of that generation and the great sacrifices of Rachel — our mother. But the deed is of the essence.

May it come to proper action. By putting the proper work in all these areas we will merit to see the greatest possible results which will bring us to the promise of: the coming of our righteous Mashiach speedily and truly in our times.

* * *

3. In this week’s portion we read:

He drew his feet back onto the bed, breathed his last, and was brought back to his people. (Bereishis 49:33)

Rashi comments on this:

But the word “death” is not mentioned in his case and our teachers [therefore] said: Yaakov, our father, is not dead.

Can we explain these words to the five-year-old Chumash student according to the plain meaning of Scripture? Can we say that Yaakov is not dead when the verse clearly states: “...breathed his last, and was brought back to his people”? Every cheder child knows that this means the absence of life!

Rashi’s commentary is based on the Gemara, which adds:

Was it then for naught that he was bewailed and embalmed and buried? (Taanis 5b)

To this question the Gemara answers:

..as his seed will then be alive so he too will be alive. (Ibid.)

Rashi, however, does not quote the complete discussion of the Gemara, he only writes that Yaakov did not die. This would seem to indicate that the plain meaning of the verse may be reconciled with the idea that Yaakov did not die, without explaining that it really means when his children are alive he is still alive (in them).

Clearly, the five-year-old Chumash student has not learned the Gemara and would not think of the Talmudic interpretation. Since Rashi was satisfied with the simple statement that Yaakov is not dead, it must also be clear for the five-year-old Chumash student. This raises the obvious question: How can Rashi say that Yaakov is not dead when the verse clearly states: “breathed his last, and was brought back to his people,” which, as everyone knows, means expiring?

Had Rashi prefaced his commentary with the words “The Midrashic interpretation is...,” then we would assume that the plain meaning is as stated in the verse, but the Midrash sees it from another point of view.

Now, however, we do not have a clear understanding of the verse in the plain sense.

Another point comes to mind. Rashi says: “the word ‘death’ is not mentioned in this case,” but, we do find Yaakov using the term death, when he said: “I am dying” (Ibid. 48:21) Why does Rashi conveniently ignore that verse? The Ramban did, in fact, remark about this discrepancy and pointed out that perhaps Yaakov did not want to honor himself, or may not have known what was to be.

Rashi’s silence generally indicates that the five-year-old Chumash student will be able to understand the total verse based on the explanation which Rashi states in situ, or based on an explanation which Rashi previously expounded.

Can we find an answer?

When the five-year-old Chumash student reads Rashi’s words, that Yaakov did not die, he realizes immediately that this contradicts the words of Scripture. At the same time he is reminded of an earlier Rashi similar to this one:

On the verse: “Chanoch walked with G‑d, and he was no more, because G‑d had taken him” (5:24), Rashi had commented on why the term ‘death’ is not used:

He was a righteous man, but his mind was easily induced to turn from his righteous ways and to become wicked. The Holy One, Blessed be He, therefore took him away quickly and made him die before his full time. This is why Scripture uses a different expression when referring to his death by writing “and he was not,” meaning, he was not in the world to complete the number of years. (Rashi 5:22)

Here we see, that one may not be alive and yet the Torah will not use the term death. In this context the term death would apply only when one dies in the ordained time, but when one passes away before his time we may be told: “and he was not,” or some similar expression.

Consequently, in our quest for the simple understanding of the statement that Yaakov did not die, we will also interpret Yaakov’s being “...brought back to his people,” as an unusual occurrence.

[Note: The Rebbe Shlita at this point answered this question by relating death in general to the sin of the Tree of Knowledge and then making a distinction between Yaakov and other tzaddikim. On the following Shabbos, Shemos, the Rebbe referred to the earlier explanation and said that it does not solve the problem and proceeded to present the following explanation:]

In the case of Yaakov’s “passing” we may compare it in some degree, with the “taking” of Chanoch. Yaakov, too, did not die but “was brought back.” In what particular manner was Yaakov’s passing similar to Chanoch, in that Yaakov passed away beforehistime. How do we see that Yaakov did not attain the projected age, which we suppose from the words “Yaakov did not die”? We see this in Yaakov’s words:

The days of my life have been few and hard. I did not live as long as my fathers did during their pilgrimage through life. (47:9)

This indicates that he could have lived as long as his father, but for some reason his life was shortened and he would be “brought back” earlier.

There remains, however, a serious difference between Yaakov and Chanoch.

Chanoch was taken before his time because, “his mind was easily induced to turn from his righteous ways and to become wicked.” Therefore, when Rashi describes the story of Chanoch he says specifically, “the Holy One, Blessed be He,... made him die before his full time.” True, that: “Scripture uses a different expression when referring to his death,” but since his early disappearance was precipitated by a negative attribute — the term death is reintroduced by Rashi.

In the case of Yaakov, however, the term “death” did not apply at all, which is why Rashi says “Yaakov is not dead”!

There is still a perplexing problem. How can Yaakov say that he did not reach the years of his father while he was still alive? G‑d could still bless him with many more years. As in fact he did live 17 more years after telling Pharaoh that “I did not live as long as my fathers!”

The answer is that we learn an important lesson from Yaakov’s statement!

We see that a Jew has the right to request that he shouldlive as long as his fathers, Avraham and Yitzchok!

Now, if we have this right regarding physical life, how much more so in a matter regarding all the Jewish people — the true redemption. Certainly every Jew has the right and responsibility to demand the redemption and to cry, “How long.”

The Gemara has ruled:

All the predestined dates [for redemption] have passed and the matter now depends only on repentance and good deeds. (Sanhedrin 97b)

Regarding teshuvah, the Previous Rebbe had ruled that the act of repentance had already taken place, as he quipped: “Immediate repentance.” As such it must be followed by, “Immediate redemption.” Yet we are still in galus! Mashiach has not yet come, so we call out: “How long — till when?!”

There are those who wonder why a Jew bothers himself to try to get other Jews to say “How long!” and they ponder: “Today is Shabbos, why express anxiety over the galus. And who are we anyway to demand that G‑d give us Mashiach. G‑d knows about the Gemara and what the Previous Rebbe said — don’t mix into His computations.” Those critics want to live at peace.

All of these arguments are not important, the main thing is that we should leave the diaspora and it must be “hastened.”

Those who have questions will then ask Eliyahu the Prophet and he will certainly answer all their queries and the main thing is to leave the galus immediately. “Jews, go out of the galus!”