Va’yechi Time to Say Goodbye But Even More to Say Welcome!
“I will make your descendants as numerous as the stars in the sky” Would you like to know how it really happened!?
Read Parashat Vayechi, last in the book of Genesis and learn about our transformation from a Patriarchal society into the People of Israel.
There came a time when things changed. Behind were the days when we believed that the blessing was available for one child only.
We did not expel any child from home anymore, and we started facing our problems. God’s voice changed and we were no longer required to sacrifice our sons but to remember to introduce them into the pact (Brith). Our parents started to love us more equally, we didn’t sell each other the lentils stew, and we shared the Manna in the desert. We shifted from “blind” parenthood to the one which thoughtfully tries to see, from that which struggles to phrase a blessing for the second child to the one which blesses all the children every Friday night.
The sisters didn’t fight for one love anymore, and there were no more coats of many colors, and brothers lived next to each other with love and respect, thereby we could walk together in the desert… We understood that “forgiveness” is a powerful tool which allows us to meet again and to build.
Now all the children stand surrounding Jacob’s bed, understanding the sublime moment and the forthcoming separation. They stand in expectation of their father’s blessing, but this time there is no quarrel; there is justice but also compassion and visibility. This time no one will pretend nor run away immediately after; this time the siblings will stay together after the burial.
On his last day Jacob pays attention to each of his sons (except for Dinah, who is absent), and there is no single blessing but rather blessings. As if something of his own story is present there, in a way which directs us to the behavior which will be the proper one from now on. This is what’s called in anthropology a liminal moment. Liminality is the moment when, during a transitional ceremony, we leave behind our old status and haven’t yet acquired the new one. The moment in which the children of Israel surround his (Jacob’s) bed and receive the blessing terminates the tradition of individuals – birthright, patriarchalism – which led us throughout the book of Genesis; we now enter Numbers, which starts the story of the People of Israel as a group! No more will we be individuals, we now become a People and partners in the journey. This moment can be related directly to the revelation at Sinai in experiencing a collective transformation. From a patriarchal society to a People…
Yet the principle of the collective does not make us all identical. Each of the children receives a blessing of his own, with recognition and respect to their differences.
Our People begins the journey equipped with heritage; we will walk forward carrying the memory of Genesis… of the wonders of creation, of Man’s place in nature, the Shabbat, faith, our fathers and our mothers and family struggles; all of these will become our eternal connection with this book.
Every year we will read again with the same thrill while in life “outside” of the book we face the same obstacles once and again; we will quarrel about our being right, we will sell each other the lentils soup and we will pretend in order to perhaps receive something that does not belong to us… And every time we will learn and remember that there is a place where we can be less competitive, and that there was a day when we matured and we were able to all convene in the same room and be blessed… that out of the difference we became partners in creating a marvellous future, because this is the ultimate message of the book of Genesis: knowing that faith is capable of forming a whole new reality and that we, human beings, are invited again and again to take an active role in the creation of the world.