Rabbi Steven Pik-Nathan for Jewish Reconstructionist Communities
Birthright and Brotherhood
This week's parashah, Vayhi, brings to a close the book of Bereshit/Genesis. In this chapter all that has been wrong is made right. Or has it?
Yes, Joseph and his brothers all reunite. Yes, Joseph and his beloved father Jacob are also reunited. But the reunion is all too short, for soon thereafter Jacob is on his deathbed. He has seen his beloved Joseph and now he can die in peace - or as much in peace as is possible for a man who has lived as he has. For Jacob has spent his whole life either running from a brother whom he had wronged, working in order to finally marry the woman he loved or mourning the loss of his favorite son. The days of peace and tranquility in Jacob's life have been few and fleeting. And yet, the name of this parashah - Vayhi - means "and he lived." True, the name is simply taken from the first word of the parashah, but perhaps it is meant to teach us something.
Perhaps contained in this simple word is a core truth of Jacob's life - and all of our lives. For in spite of all that had happened to Jacob he did live. His life may have been filled with much sorrow, deceit, trickery, sadness, anger, frustration and dejection. Yet, in the end he lived and was able to see his beloved son again and bless all of his sons before his death.
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