The above pasuk contains the name of our quintessential leader, the Rabban Shel Kol Yisrael, Moshe Rabbeinu, and also that of the third Patriarch, the b’chir ha’Avos, chosen one of the Patriarchs, Yaakov Avinu. Does a relationship exist between these two, or is the mention of both in the same pasuk arbitrary? Horav Aryeh Leib Heyman, zl, observes that, in a similar instance, we find Yaakov’s name together with that of Yosef. True, they were father and son. In his commentary to Parashas Vayeishev, however, Rashi notes this, explaining that this association reflects a powerful verity: the events of Yosef’s life found a parallel in the life of his father. Kol mah she’ira l’Yaakov – ira l’Yosef, “Whatever happened to Yaakov – happened to Yosef.” Each one had a brother – or brothers – who sought to take him down, etc. Midrash Rabbah, Bereishis 84:6 enumerates twenty-four areas in which Yosef and Yaakov were alike! Indeed, the Radal applies a siman, mnemonic, to this number from a pasuk in Yeshaya 54:12, V’Samti kadkod shimsosayich, “And I will set your window/sun with ruby.” Kadkod is spelled chof daled – chof daled – each pair denoting the number twenty-four. Shimsosayich is translated as window, because it allows in the sun, shemesh. Both Yaakov and Yosef are compared to the sun. Thus, two “suns”/Yaakov and Yosef/ twice – 24.
Having established that a relationship exists between Yaakov and Yosef to the extent of twenty-four instances of commonality between them, Rav Heyman wonders if a parallel does not also apply to Moshe and Yaakov. He set himself to the task of locating areas of relationship between the two. He found twenty-four parallels between Moshe and Yaakov. Since this is the end of this Torah cycle, I have taken the liberty of detailing them as a type of review. At the end, I will offer my understanding of their correlation to one another.
Yaakov was born circumcised; so was Moshe. The name Yaakov is not an original Biblical name, but rather, a reference to the incident of his holding onto the akeiv/heel of Eisav. Moshe’s name was also given to him as a result of an incident which took place concerning Pharaoh’s daughter. She drew him out of the water. Hence, his name Moshe: ki min ha’mayim mishisuhu. Third, Yaakov’s attribute is emes, Titein emes l’Yaakov; even the wicked concede that Moshe emes v’Toraso emes; “Moshe and his Torah are true.”
Fourth: Yaakov’s image/countenance is engraved on the Kisei HaKavod, Heavenly Throne; Moshe was commanded by Hashem to grab the Heavenly Throne and respond to the Ministering Angels in a debate concerning why the Torah should be given to the mortals (Shabbos 88b).
Fifth: Yaakov was forced to flee his birthplace and home for fear of being killed by Eisav. Moshe was forced to escape Egypt as a result of the slander spoken against him by his arch nemeses Dassan and Aviram. Ultimately, they both returned home – years later.
Sixth: Chazal teach that when Eisav met Yaakov, he attempted to bite his throat. Miraculously, Yaakov’s neck turned into marble, leaving Eisav with a painful reprisal. When Pharaoh commanded that Moshe be executed with the sword, his neck also turned into marble. Seventh: when Yaakov came to the Yarden, he stretched out his walking stick and the water split for him. Moshe used his Mateh Elokim, Staff from G-d, to split the Red Sea. Indeed, Yalkut Shmoni (Shemos 168) writes that the two staffs were one and the same. Yaakov’s staff was passed down through the generations.
Eighth, Yaakov met his bashert, predestined spouse, at the well. Chazal tell us that this incident taught Moshe to seek his wife at the well. Ninth: Moshe and Yaakov are the only two individuals in Tanach who shepherded the sheep belonging to their fathers-in-law.
Tenth: from amongst Yaakov’s sons, three stand out as having caused him pain and anxiety: Reuven, Shimon, and Levi; Reuven moved around the bed, and Shimon and Levi destroyed the city of Shechem, both instances that troubled the Patriarch. Moshe too, suffered at the hands of Dassan and Aviram, who hailed from Shevet Reuven. Zimri was the Prince of Shevet Shimon; his outrage can hardly be ignored. Then there was Korach, scion of Shevet Levi, who led the only mutiny against Moshe. Eleventh, Yaakov sent Yosef on a mission to search for his brothers. Moshe sent the meraglim, spies, to reconnoiter Eretz Yisrael, resulting in Klal Yisrael’s tragic exclusion from entering the Land.
Twelfth, Both Yaakov and Moshe’s marriages were tainted and eventually ended as a result of their personal eminence. Yaakov was married to two sisters; therefore, when he was about to enter Eretz Yisrael, one of them had to “go.” Rachel died on the road to Bais Lechem. Since Moshe never knew when he would be summoned to speak with the Almighty, he separated from his wife.
Thirteenth, Yaakov taught Yosef all of the Torah which he had learned from Shem and Eivar, thus transmitting his legacy to the next generation. Moshe transmitted the Torah to Yehoshua, his disciple and eventual successor. Fourteenth, In Yosef’s dream, Yaakov is compared to the sun. Upon comparing Moshe to Yehoshua, the Zekeinim, Elders, viewed them through a contrast whereby Moshe was the sun, and Yehoshua was the moon.
Fifteenth, Yaakov wrestled through the night with an angel, representing Eisav. Moshe fought valiantly, triumphing over the Ministering Angels who attempted to prevent the Torah from being given to mortals. Sixteenth, Yaakov rebuked his sons complaining, Lamah harei’osem li, “Why did you treat me so ill (by telling the man [Yosef] that you have another brother)?” (Bereishis 43:6). Moshe complained to Hashem, Lamah ha’reiosa la’am hazeh, “Why have You done evil to this People (Why have you sent me)?” (Shemos 5:22).
Seventeenth, Yaakov originally distanced Timna who had come to convert. As a result, she became the concubine of Elifaz, and together their union produced the archenemy of the Jewish People: Amalek. Moshe, who symbolizes unusual alacrity in carrying out mitzvos, was seemingly indolent in battling against Amalek, sending Yehoshua instead.
Eighteenth, Yaakov rebuked his sons shortly before he took leave of this world. Moshe derived from this that one speaks his piece, rebukes, blesses, tells it how it is, shortly before death. This is when his words have the greatest impact.
Nineteenth, concerning Yaakov, the Torah uses the phrase kreivah lamus, “The approachment of death;” Vayikrevu yemei Yisrael lamus, “The time approached for Yisrael to die” (Bereishis 47:29). Likewise, shortly prior to Moshe’s death, the Torah writes: Vayomer Hashem el Moshe “Hein karvu yamecha lamus, “Hashem spoke to Moshe, ‘Behold, your days are drawing near to die’” (Devarim 31:14).
Twentieth, Yaakov blessed his sons before he died. Moshe blessed Klal Yisrael before he left this world. Twenty-first, Yaakov blessed his successors/heirs by placing his hands on their heads. He placed his hands on Menashe and Ephraim, who were assuming Yosef’s place among the Shivtei Kah. Moshe blessed Yehoshua by placing his hands on his head. On the other hand, we find Yitzchak kissing Yaakov before his death – not placing his hands on his head.
Twenty-second, Yaakov’s descendants numbered over 600,000; Moshe’s descendants also numbered over 600,000 (Bereishis 7a).
Twenty third, Moshe and Yaakov partnered in proclaiming the Oneness of Hashem to future generations. Moshe declared: Shema Yisrael, Hashem Elokeinu, Hashem Echad. We add Yaakov’s declaration, Baruch Shem Kavod Malchuso l’Olam Vaed. Chazal teach that Yaakov assembled his sons around his deathbed, and, as he was about to divulge the End of Days to them, the Shechinah, Divine Presence, suddenly left him. He asked, “Is it possible that there is a psul, flaw, among my offspring, similar to that of my grandfather, Avraham, who had Yishmael, and my father, Yitzchak, who had Eisav?” They answered with a resounding, Shema Yisrael, Hashem Elokeinu, Hashem Echad. “As there is only One G-d in your heart, so, too, is there only One G-d in our hearts.” At that moment, Yaakov replied with Baruch Shem Kavod Malchuso l’Olam Vaed. Thus, Moshe said, Shema Yisrael, and Yaakov said, Baruch Shem.
Twenty-fourth, Yaakov and Moshe each had an equal share in constructing the Mishkan. Yaakov brought the cedars, which he transplanted in Egypt and later commanded his children to take them along with them when they left the country. Moshe erected the Mishkan by raising up the pillars and placing the curtains upon them.
Now that we have established the twenty-four similarities between these two giants, we wonder ‘why?’ What about these two demands such parallels in their respective lives? Rav Heyman explains that Moshe is heir to Yaakov’s legacy of Torah. Moshe is the spiritual heir to Yaakov. At the end of Parashas Vayechi, when Yaakov concludes his blessings, the Torah writes: V’Zos asher dibar lahem avihem, “And this is what their father spoke to them” (Bereishis 49:28). Chazal observe that the word v’zos, “and this,” is used, rather than zos, “this.” They say, “One day someone like me will bless them – and continue where I left off.” Therefore, when Moshe was about to bless Klal Yisrael, the Torah begins, V’Zos HaBrachah, “And this is the blessing.” Yaakov’s blessing did not come to an end, Moshe continued it. We hope that Moshe’s blessings will also persist.
We might add that both Yaakov and Moshe were leaders who went into exile. Thus, their legacy is one designed specifically for Klal Yisrael throughout the ages, who have regrettably been without our home for over two thousand years. The leadership of these two giants paralleled one another due to the circumstances under which both of them established their tenures. What they taught us continues to sustain us and give us hope throughout time.