Fear and Forgiveness

Fear and Forgiveness

Dec 17, 2021 By Sarah Wolf | Commentary | Vayehi

ef; it can also reopen old wounds among relatives. This is what happens at the end of Parashat Vayehi, which is also the end of the book of Genesis, after the patriarch Jacob dies. Following Jacob’s death, his sons fear that things are not fully resolved in their family, and they become worried that their brother Joseph is still angry at them for the ways they mistreated him.

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In Every Place

In Every Place

Jan 1, 2021 By Rafi Cohen | Commentary | Vayehi

Just about anyone who has moved homes will agree that sometimes one place will take on outsize influence in our lives. Indeed, even environments in which we’ve only briefly resided can have a resounding impact on our upbringing and outlook.

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Difficult Blessings and the Love Within

Difficult Blessings and the Love Within

Jan 10, 2020 By Jacob Blumenthal | Commentary | Vayehi

At the age of 90, my mother’s mind was still “sharp as a tack” (she loved those kinds of somewhat anachronistic expressions), even as her body was failing. With the growing realization that the solution to each physical ailment aggravated her other challenges, Bernice, z”l, agreed it was time to engage hospice care. “I want two things,” she said. “I don’t want to be in pain. And I want to see everyone I love before I die.”

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Questions of Life and Legacy

Questions of Life and Legacy

Dec 21, 2018 By Daniel Nevins | Commentary | Vayehi

This final parashah of Genesis bears a cryptic title: Vayehi, “He (that is, Jacob) lived.” Well, of course he lived, and soon he will die, but how has he lived? What legacy does he bequeath? These are the questions that concern Vayehi. What is the Torah’s final judgment of Jacob, a man who has wrestled, mourned and rejoiced, deceived and been deceived; a man who has been wounded and yet prevails, who has been humbled by his sons and yet manages to retain enough vigor and authority to command them until his dying breath? How has he lived?

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Can We Grow?

Can We Grow?

Dec 29, 2017 By Deborah Miller | Commentary | Vayehi

Family relationships are often complicated, but the family of Jacob is a particularly jumbled mess. In this week’s parashah, the story has hints and echoes of a decades-long, tangled skein of family dynamics. We see these in two particularly problematic scenes in this parashah. Both scenes illustrate William Faulkner’s truism that “the past is never dead. It’s not even past.” And in this story, we see how the past leaks into the future.

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Pictures at a Benediction: Envisioning Jacob’s Blessing of his Sons

Pictures at a Benediction: Envisioning Jacob’s Blessing of his Sons

Jan 13, 2017 By Eliezer B. Diamond | Commentary | Vayehi

The Tanakh is notoriously parsimonious when it comes to providing visual details. They are supplied only when they are germane to the biblical narrative. Was Isaac good-looking? We are not told. But we are told that Joseph was, because it explains why Potiphar’s wife cast her eyes upon him. Was Moses bald? We will never know. But it is made clear that the prophet Elisha was; because of this, he was taunted by jeers: “Go away, baldhead! Go away, baldhead!” This is the beginning of the brief but horrifying story in which Elisha curses the children who mock him, who are then mauled by bears emerging from the forest).

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Leaving a Legacy

Leaving a Legacy

Dec 18, 2010 By Andrew Shugerman | Commentary | Text Study | Vayehi

What kind of legacy will we leave when we die? Much of our fear of dying is similar to Jacob’s, as described in this week’s Torah portion and further imagined in the midrash above. We worry that our ideals and our values will not survive among the next generation.

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Judaism and the Afterlife

Judaism and the Afterlife

Jan 6, 1996 By Ismar Schorsch | Commentary | Vayehi

The title of this week’s parasha is full of irony.

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