The 13th of Tevet is the Yahrtzeit of Rav Menachem Mendel of Vishiva, the She’eris Menachem. (1941) Many commentaries ask why the Sages teach that the hearts of the nation began to close when from the suffering of the Egyptian servitude when Jacob died, long before the actual servitude began.
Jacob felt that the only way his descendants would spiritually survive Egypt was to live as “Geirim,” strangers in this nation that greeted them with open arms. He taught them that living outside of Israel and being vulnerable to the Egyptian’s influence was a deeper sense of servitude than the physical suffering that would come 84 years later.
All of Jacob’s words were intended to convey this lesson and charge. When he died, his children immediately understood that Jacob’s mere presence kept them aware of this sense of Geirim – strangers. Once Jacob died, their hearts slowly closed to the idea and the worst part of their servitude actually began.