Petirah of Rav Nochum Gold Zt”l

Six Years ago Rav Nochum, a Talmid of Rav Pam Zt”l, recorded the above video in honor of Bais Medrash L’Torah Rosh Yeshiva, HoRav Yisroel Goldblatt Shlit”a. He was the guest of honor but in typical self-effacing fashion he turned it around saying that as guest of honor it was his job to give honor.

Upon moving to Lakewood Rav Nochum learned in our Bais Medrash and gave shiurim to our yungeleit. Unfortunately after an illness of several years, which he was mekabel with great Emunah and Bitochon, he was niftar.

Chazal tell us that the Torah of a niftar is the ideal form of memory and for the first time the following is a rendition in English by Rav Aryeh Goldstein of a dvar Torah from Rav Nochum’s kuntress Torah Mevu’eres:

וַיֶּאְסֹ֤ר יוֹסֵף֙ מֶרְכַּבְתּ֔וֹ וַיַּ֛עַל לִקְרַֽאת־יִשְׂרָאֵ֥ל אָבִ֖יו גֹּ֑שְׁנָה וַיֵּרָ֣א אֵלָ֗יו וַיִּפֹּל֙ עַל־צַוָּארָ֔יו וַיֵּ֥בְךְּ עַל־ צַוָּארָ֖יו עֽוֹד:

בראשית פרק מו פסוק כט

Rashi explains that while Yosef was crying on his father’s shoulder, no mention is mentioned of Yaakov Avinu, as Yaakov Avinu was reciting krias shema. Why did Yaakov Avinu specifically deem this momentous occasion of reuniting with his beloved, long-lost son as the appropriate occasion to lein krias shema, rather than prior to or after meeting Yosef?

Rav Nochum answers that a component of the chiyuv krias shema is “Vi’ahavta es Hashem Elokecha… U’vichol me’odecha.” Chazal explain that loving Hashem with one’s “me’odecha” refers to accepting Hashem’s decrees with love, which demands that a person recite the bracha of “Boruch Dayan Emes” with simcha just like when a person hears besuros tovos. While Yosef was missing, the posuk tell us that Yaakov Avinu was unable to be comforted on the loss of his son- “Vi’lo yuchal linachmo,” saying “ki eireid el bni aveil shi’ola.” If so, his ability to fulfill the mitzva of “Vi’ahavta es Hashem Elokecha” was lacking shleimus.

However, after discovering that Yosef was alive and mishne li’melech in Mitzrayim, Yaakov Avinu now experienced Hashem’s hatava even within the seemingly dark events of Yosef’s disappearance. Only now, upon meeting his son, when he was witnessing that Yosef remained intact in emunah and ruchniyos, was Yaakov able to perceive the great goodness in Yosef’s being sold to Mitzrayim. Precisely at this moment of great joy, when the atzvus of Yosef’s apparent demise dissipated, was Yaakov Avinu able to recite krias shema with the shleimus in ahavas Hashem that it entails. Therefore, Yaakov Avinu took advantage of this auspicious moment to mekayeim the mitzva of krias shema bishleimus at his very first opportunity in twenty-two years.

A remez to this yesod can be found in the pesukim: The shevatim refer to Yosef as “Vi’haechad einenu,” rather than using the term “achinu,” his name, Yosef, or some other terminology. The reference to Yosef
specifically as the “echad” reflects Yosef’s disappearance as being the catalyst for their father’s lack of fulfillment of the mitzva of krias shema bishleimusa.
Krias Shema, which begins “Shma Yisrael, Hashem
Elokeinu Hashem Echad,” was no longer the same for Yakov Avinu due to the loss of the “echad,” Yosef Hatzaddik (Torah Mivu’eres, Parshas Mikeitz).