Torah Thoughts for Today
Shabbat Vayekhi 5772
Rabbi Mark Mallach
Temple Beth Ahm Yisrael, Springfield, NJ
IMPORTANT NOTES FOLLOW BELOW
January 7, 2012 – 12 Tevet 5772
Triennial: Genesis 49:1-49:26 (Etz Hayim p. 298)
Haftarah: I Kings 2:1 – 12 (Etz Hayim p. 313)
Prepared by Rabbi Joseph Prouser
Parashat Vayekhi marks the conclusion of the Book of Genesis. It is the end of the beginning. We are told that Jacob lives in Egypt for 17 years, forming a symmetry in his life: he enjoyed 17 years with his beloved son Joseph before the latter’s “departure.” As Jacob’s life draws to a close, he secures a commitment from Joseph to bury him “with my ancestors” in Canaan. Joseph brings his sons, Ephraim and Manasseh, to receive their grandfather’s blessing. Though Joseph positions them carefully, so that the elder, Manasseh, is at Jacob’s right hand, Jacob crosses his arms, placing his right hand on Ephraim and despite Joseph’s objections calling him by name before addressing the firstborn. Jacob blesses Joseph: “God will be with you and will bring you back to the land of your fathers.” Apparently continuing the pattern of favoritism that led to such adversity in both their lives, Jacob tells Joseph, “I give you one portion more than to your brothers.”
From his deathbed, Jacob recites poetic blessings and personalized messages of remonstrance to each of his sons, and before he dies he repeats his instructions to bury him in his ancestral plot in the cave of Machpelah, which his grandfather Abraham had bought. Joseph weeps bitterly at his father’s death, and instructs the Egyptian physicians to embalm his body in preparation for its return to Canaan.
Egypt observes 70 days of official mourning for Joseph’s father. Joseph secures Pharaoh’s permission to accompany his father’s remains to their final resting place. Jacob’s sons carry him to Machpelah and observe a seven-day mourning period. With Jacob gone, Joseph’s brothers fear he will seek revenge for their offenses against him. They tell him about Jacob’s instructions that he forgive them – although the reader of the Bible has no corroboration that Jacob actually made such a statement!
Joseph assures them that they need not fear: “Although you intended me harm, God intended it for good. Fear not. I will sustain you and your children.” Joseph lives to see great-grandchildren. Before dying at the age of 110, Joseph secures a promise from his brothers to “carry up my bones from here” when God will return their descendants to the Promised Land.
Describing the Torah reading on Simhat Torah, when every worshipper is honored with an aliyah, in his Guide to Jewish Religious Practice, Rabbi Isaac Klein concludes: “For the last aliyah all the children are called up (Levush, O. H. 669:1). This honor is usually given to one of the distinguished worshippers, who spreads his tallit like a canopy under which the children stand and recite the blessings. After the second benediction, the congregation recites the blessing which Jacob gave to his grandchildren, the sons of Joseph (Gen. 48:15-16; Rama on O. H. 669).”
In parashat Vayekhi, read on January 7, 2012, Jacob delivers personalized blessings and his final message to his sons: “And Jacob called his sons and said, ‘Come together that I may tell you what is to befall you in days to come’” (Genesis 49:1). On January 7, 1929, the similarly forward-looking Buck Rogers – the first science fiction comic strip – premiered.
Your thoughts as always are welcome…
A. Sunday, January 8, 2012:
1. 9 AM:
a. Religious School
b. Morning Minyan
2. 7:45 PM: evening minyan
B. Thursday January 5, 2012 @ 8 PM: Coffee & Clergy Corner at Barnes & Noble session
C. Friday, January 6 @ 6:30 PM: SHABBATis4U – Services led by Nitzanim & Kohavim, January Birthday blessing, Yahrzeit list is read, dinner by prior RSVP to follow services – NO LATE SERVICE
D. Monday, January 16th, 10 – 11 AM: Springfield Interfaith Clergy Association Martin Luther King Day Commemoration, Townhall, 2nd Floor Sunday,
E. January 15th, 7 PM: Step Up for Israel concluding film & discussion
F. Thursday, January 19th @ 7:45 PM: Torah on Tap
G. Sunday, February 5th @ 9 AM: World Wide Wrap – Come RAP with us with Tefillin, Talit, special breakfast & guest speaker – all sponsored by your Men’s Club – open to all, male & FEMALE, Teffilin help and practice pairs are available
H. Sunday, February 19th, 8 PM: TBAY Annual Comedy Night!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
NEXT CONGREGATIONAL ISRAEL TOUR
1. Depart EWR: December 18, 2012
2. Return to EWR: January 1, 2013
3. The itinerary & application is available: www.israeltours.com/rmallach2012.php
For updated information go to: http://www.tbaynj.org/
You can also visit my website at http://ridinrebbe.com/