Rabbi Meir Simcha of Dvinsk, author of Ohr Somayach (1843-1926)

Rabbi Meir Simcha of Dvinsk brings up the oaths in his comment on Yosef’s last words to his brothers: “G-d will surely visit you and take you up from this land, to the land that He promised to Avraham, Yitzchak and Yaakov.” Yosef was warning them not to go up “as a wall” until a prophet sent by Hashem Yisborach comes and says, “I have surely visited you (pakod pakadti).” And this is also a lesson for all generations, that the Jewish people may not leave exile on their own. This was the error of the Children of Ephraim: they left Egypt before the proper time. Even if a prophet had come to the Jews in Egypt and told them to leave and go to a different land (other than Eretz Canaan), they would have denounced him as a false prophet. The prophet must tell them to go to the land Hashem promised to the Avos, as Moshe Rabbeinu did. (Meshech Chochmah on Bereishis 50:24)

Rabbi Meir Simcha of Dvinsk explains the fourth blessing of Birkas Hamazon as a praise to Hashem for taking care of the Jewish people in exile. The first three blessings speak of the building of Klal Yisroel from its foundations – eating manna in the desert, entering Eretz Yisroel, the Beis Hamikdash in which the Divine Presence rested and we experienced constant miracles. But then came the Destruction, and even the revolt of Bar Kochba failed to save us. It seemed that there was no hope for our people. We would disappear under the hands of our enemies. Yet Hashem came to our rescue and inspired a new king to grant the right to bury those killed in Beitar. Chazal composed the blessing not merely to remember this event, but to point out the miraculous survival of the Jews in exile. We may not have the Beis Hamikdash and its miracles, but our existence throughout centuries of exile is our proof that Hashem is guarding us and all the principles of emunah represented in the first three blessings are true. (Meshech Chochmah, Devarim 8:10)


Rabbinic Quotations