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Parashat Vayechi

December 17, 2021
13 Tevet 5782
Parashat Vayechi
Genesis 47:28 - 50:26


Dear Friends,

As we approach the end of the calendar year, a Person Of The Year has been chosen, columnists are writing their year in review, the best streaming shows have been chosen, and we are being asked on every media platform to look back -- to reflect. Some of the content is shallow and some of it has some depth.

And here we are in our cycle of reading Torah at the end of the book of Bereshit (Genesis), which opens with the deathbed scene of Jacob and is echoed in the haftorah with the death of King David. Each of them passes on a legacy. Each of these two men led complex lives with many highs and lows.

It is at their final moments that they pass on what they think is important to the next generation. Just before he dies, King David passes on his legacy of kingship to Solomon with an admonition to follow the path set by Moses and the laws and commandments, to punish David’s enemies, and reward his friends. The one thing he does not do is bless his son, or really recognize him. Until the moment he dies, this is David’s story. He does give Solomon advice: “King David encourages Solomon not to despair: 'Be strong and show yourself a man'(1Kings 2:2)." The recipe for success as king, David tells his son, is to follow God’s ways. David promises that if Solomon is true to the Torah, “your line on the throne of Israel shall never end.”

Jacob’s final moments are of a different quality. They begin with the blessing of his grandsons -- the sons of Joseph, Ephraim and Menashe. He then goes on to recognize each of his sons, for the qualities they possess and who they are.

Endings are also beginnings. The passing on of a legacy, of what matters in a family or to an individual should not be left to the final moments of one’s life. 

Our ability to bless one another and pass on both our stories and what really matters to us need not wait to the final moments of our lives. Thanking and blessing the Divine for the gifts we experience in our lives is something many of us do regularly whatever our spiritual practice. But it is of equal importance and value to express the blessing that are the ones who are in our lives, who are seen by us as we see them. Let us not be like David or Jacob waiting until the end to express our love and gratitude.

This week we asked our children in the Tehillah Hebrew School to write a blessing for someone they loved. Not all of the children were willing to share (after all a blessing is a very private matter), but the ones that did expressed a sense of seeing the individual that was loved.

May we all have the courage to appreciate and express the blessings that those around us bestow upon us. The time is always now!

Shabbat Shalom,

Rabbi Linda Shriner-Cahn


Sun, June 26 2022 27 Sivan 5782