Although Yaakov Avinu was ill and in bed, he nevertheless managed to bow and prostrate himself “al rosh ha’mitah” – at the foot of his bed. Rashi explains: “He prostrated himself to Hashem because his offspring were perfect, insofar as not one of them was wicked, as is evidenced by the fact that Yosef was a king, and furthermore, that (even though) he was captured among the heathens, he remained steadfast in his righteousness.”
The S’forno provides a similar explanation: that Yaakov Avinu bowed as a sign of thanksgiving to Hashem. Yaakov realized that Yosef’s influence would be required for the removal of his body from Egypt for burial in the Land of Israel. Yosef had achieved authority and influence to fulfill his father’s wish through Hashem’s providence. Through bowing to Hashem, Yaakov expressed his appreciation for His guidance over Yosef’s life. This was appropriate. Yaakov was now benefiting from this providence.
The following story was told by Rav Yitzchok Zilberstein shlita (Barchi Nafshi) about a well-respected philanthropist who traveled to B’nei Brak to visit the headquarters of Ezra LeMarpeh, an organization that aids countless Jews in need of medical assistance, advice, and referrals. The philanthropist met with Reb Elimelech Firer, the renowned director of Ezra LeMarpeh, and the two discussed a number of pressing matters pertaining to numerous areas of Jewish assistance. The meeting ended quite late and, on a whim, the two decided to travel to Jerusalem to daven at the Kosel.
They arrived after midnight and the cool night air was still. A constant hum from the trickle of worshipers could be heard. As they approached the holy wall, they suddenly heard the piercing sound of sobbing coming from the plaza in front of the Kosel. As they got closer, they saw a middle-aged Jew standing and leaning his head on the stones, crying unceasingly.
When Reb Firer heard the sound of crying, he was unable to focus on his t’filos, for alleviating the pain of another Jew is uppermost in his mind at all times. After a few moments, he turned to his wealthy companion and said, “It is clear that Hashem arranged for us to be here at this time for a reason. The reason is in order to hear the tears of this Jew and help him out. Let’s make a deal: I’ll approach him and introduce myself; and if he needs medical advice, I will aid him to the best of my ability. However, if he tells me that he is not in need of medical advice, but in need of financial help, you will enter the picture, and offer your financial help.” The philanthropist happily agreed to the deal.
Reb Firer approached the man, tapped lightly on his shoulder, and introduced himself. He then inquired whether he was in need of medical advice. The man replied, “No, no, I have no need for such help. Everything is fine, baruch Hashem.”
Reb Firer asked if there were any medical issues that he was concerned with as he was able and willing to help out in this area, but the man assured him that he had no need. Reb Firer walked away convinced, and he told the philanthropist that it was now time for him to approach and offer his services, as this was most likely what was needed. The philanthropist approached the man and gently inquired whether he needed financial help. Once again, the answer was negative. “HaKadosh Baruch Hu has given me everything I have, and I’m not in need of anything,” he answered.
The philanthropist reported back to Reb Firer and both of them were confused. If everything was fine, then why was he crying so loudly, affecting everyone around him? Reb Firer decided to approach the man once again and clarify the matter.
“If you must know, I’ll tell you why I’m crying,” said the man. “Last night, I married off my youngest son, the last of the 12 children Hashem has given me. I came tonight to thank Him, the Creator of the World, for the great kindness He has shown me for so many years until I was zocheh to bring my last child under the chupah.”
The man explained that just as he had come to the Kosel HaMaaravi over the years to plead with Hashem to help him marry off his children, now that all his t’filos have been answered, he has come especially to the Kosel this very night to thank Him. Reb Firer asked him why he was crying. The Yid looked at the two great patrons of chesed and asked, “Do you think it is possible to thank Hashem and praise Him for such great kindness without bursting into tears?”