Rabbi Yisrael Shachor
Former Rosh Kollel in Chicago
When the time came for Yaakov Avinu to die, he calls his sons to his bedside and tells them: “Assemble yourselves and I will tell you what will befall you in the End of the Days.”
However, we do not see in the content of the blessings that he actually told them anything on this issue. Rashi brings in the name of Chazal: “He wanted to tell them what will happen at the End of the Days but the Shechina left him and he said other things.”
What was the secret that Yaakov wanted to tell his sons? Did he mean the ‘End of the Days’ as we know the concept, or did he mean to tell them about the exile to Egypt?
The “Baal Megaleh Amukot”-Rav Natan Neta Shapiro, says that Yaakov’s intention was to tell his sons that the exile in Egypt will not last four hundred years as said in Brit Bein Habetarim (The Convent of the Parts) but only two hundred and ten years. Yaakov’s purpose was to ease the hardships of the exile for they would know that the redemption would be at half the time. But Hashem stopped him and the Shechina left him at that time.
Even though Yaakov did not tell them literally what will happen at the End of the Days, it is implied in the blessings.
In Yehuda’s blessing it says: “until Shiloh arrives and he will be assemblage of nations.”
Four generations are hinted in this passuk and as it says in The Convent between the Parts “and the fourth generation will return to here”, and who are the four generations? Levi, Kehat, Amram, Moshe. The Zohar explains that the words “lo Yikhat” (he will be an assemblage) are the letters of the names Levi-Kehat.
Shilo- refers to Moshe Rabeinu because the gematria (value of the letters) is the same (345). Moreover, in Masechet Sanhedrin (98) there are four opinions regarding the name of the Mashiach. The opinion of Rav Shila’s place of Torah study is: Shilo and they learn it from the above passuk.
If we say that the Mashiach is the redeemer, we know that the redeemer from the exile to Egypt was Moshe and that is why it says “Until Shilo arrives”- the meaning is until Moshe comes.
Until now we have an indication for three generations, who is missing-Amram. We see that the next word in the passuk is “amim” (nations), the similarity between this word and the name Amram is very clear, but why did the letter ‘Reish’ “shrink” into the letter ‘Yud’? The difference between ‘reish’ and ‘yud’ is 190! And here comes the great hint; the 400 years of exile shrunk by 190 years and therefore, there are only 210 years remaining for the exile in Egypt!