Apologies to begin with… this is bound to be a short blog post as the hours ’til Shabbos are quickly dwindling… it’s been an amazing, crazy week for me ’cause my brother got engaged on Thursday night, thank G-d! It’s very exciting but did not lend itself to a long Parasha post!
Now that we’re past that, let’s talk about Parashas Vayechi! The parasha actually starts with Yaakov Avinu approaching his death. He asks Yosef HaTzaddik to ensure that he will be buried in Israel, not in Egypt, and makes him swear to that effect. Yaakov Avinu is then the first member of mankind to fall ill in advance of his death, forewarning his nearest and dearest that his end is coming.
Yaakov Avinu asks for his grandons Efraim and Menashe, the sons of Yosef, and gives them a blessing. Then, he calls in his twelve sons and blesses each one with his own unique blessing. Yaakov Avinu beseeches of his sons to bury him in the Cave of Machpelah where his father and grandfather are buried, and then returns his soul to his Maker at the age of 147.
All of Egypt mourns the loss of this great man, for the famine suddenly grows acute again in the aftermath of his death. Yosef HaTzaddik asks Paroh for permission to go with his brothers to bury his father in Israel. Paroh allows the brothers to go; they proceed to travel to Israel to bury their father. Yosef reassures his brothers once again that even now, after the death of their father, he still doesn’t hate them for what they did to him in the past and will not harm them.
Yosef lives until the age of 110, long enough to watch his great-grandchildren grow up! Soon after, he is the first of the twelve tribes to pass away, and he was mummified and put in a coffin in Egypt to eventually be carried with the Jews to Israel upon the Exodus from Egypt.
At this point in shul we say Chazak! Chazak! V’nischazeik! – Be strong! Be strong! And may we be strengthened! This is the customary proclamation upon the completion of one of the Five Books of the Torah. This Shabbos we finish reading Sefer Bereishis, the Book of Genesis!
The whole first book of the Torah, and this parasha in particular, talks an awful lot about family relationships, sibling dynamics, respecting parents, and so many other ideas relating to family.
Family, family, family.
Sometimes we question whether our family is really that special, worth our time, or good enough to be proud of. Well, let me tell you something!
If you are a member of the Jewish people, your family is part of the same exact family written about in Bereishis! And if you’re part of that family, whoa!
Maybe we should readjust our lens and we can view our families in a different light. We’re not just nobody, out in the middle of nowhere.
You are a member of an important nation, a tribe, a people, a family… we’re few in number and incredible in value. And G-d gave you parents, maybe siblings, cousins, grandparents, and other awesome family members to learn, bond, share, and grow with.
What are you going to do this Shabbos to improve one of your family relationships?
Hatzlacha! (You should be successful!)
I’m currently listening to nothing ’cause I’m wrapping up for the night but the whole rest of the day I was listening to a great album by Nafshenu Orchestra called Heimish Weddinng! Definitely puts you in the mood for one :)
Have a super Shabbos!