BS"D || Rabbi Geier
Parashat Vayechi shows us a Yaakov who says goodbye. A Yaakov who is in his last days and understands that he must reorder the family, if the idea is to preserve the values for which he fought as a father and as a patriarch.
It is not different from each of us as parents, who try to generate in our children such strengths that then allow them to face the different adversities in the surrounding society.
This runs clearly for Jewish values and customs, as well as for moral and social values: We care as much about maintaining our traditions and adherence to our customs as Jews as we are about how to face the onslaught of alcohol, drugs and other scourges that exist. around.
Yaakov calls his sons to bless them. He blesses them one by one and marks each one of their mistakes and their strengths, showing a deep knowledge of the personality and spirit of each one.
And we are going to stop at some.
Let us note the peculiarity that it began with Ephraim and Menashe. Neither of them was his son. In fact they were grandsons of Yaakov, sons of Yosef. The midrash tells us that the best blessing that a father can have is precisely that his children, or even more... his grandchildren follow his path, the good path.
But also for a particular detail. The tribes of Ephraim and Menashe are the only ones who were born and raised in Egyptian impurity, surrounded by Egyptian customs, magicians, gods and other issues that would be tempting to be acquired by any human being, instead of their own beliefs. The other tribes were raised under the teachings and education of Iaakov, and once constituted they were brought to Egypt.
Despite this, according to our tradition, the tribes of Efraim and Menashe did not learn the uses and customs of the place. They did not make them their own, and the inheritance transmitted by the people of Israel was stronger.
Yehudah was given command. It was going to be the tribe that governed all Bnei Israel, in fact from this tribe David would descend and from that descent the Mashiach will come, according to tradition.
The midrash tells us that when God created the world it was debated whether to create it based on justice (midat hadin) or mercy (midat harachamim). And the debate was installed in itself insofar as if it created it based on justice, no human being would survive the severe divine judgment, and if it did it based on mercy, neither would the world survive since all transgression and transgression would always be forgiven. the human being would not learn anything at all and would not evolve, Yehuda was the one who managed that interval between being a pacifist and a caudillo. He was the one who suggested "saving" Yosef by suggesting the sale rather than letting him die.
The third one he wanted to rescue is Zebulun.
Zebulun is the sixth son of Yaakov. However, the patriarch in his distribution of blessings once again alters the order. It places Zebulun in fifth place and Isachar in sixth. As always, this cannot be accidental.
Each tribe had a specific task within the people.
In this case, it is Rashi who tells us that the members of the Zebulun tribe were those who were in charge of commerce and providing food, precisely, to the Isachar tribe, who remained at home dedicated to the study of the Torah. And Pirkei Avot teaches us that the reward of those who support the study of the Torah is even more valuable than that of those who study it.
Im ein kemach, ein Torah. If there is no flour, there is no Torah. Livelihood, work, community contribution is needed, not only of money, but of the askanim who support the study in the communities with their daily work with their contribution to sustain the values that are taught and transmitted in ours and in each of the communities in the world.
Finally, tell them a peculiarity of this parashah: who is used to reading from the Sefer Torah, knows that there are no punctuation marks in the text. The only indication that can be found in it is the one that marks the spaces between the different paragraphs, each of them also called parashah (not to be confused with the weekly section of the Torah, which bears the same name). A parashah petuchah is a paragraph that, after its last word, continues the rest of the free line before the next sentence, something like the “full stop”. A parashah setumah is a paragraph that, after its completion, leaves a free space equivalent to nine letters before starting the next one.
Generally, when the parashah of the week concludes, there is a separation that indicates that end as parashah petuchah, or open paragraph. Something like a full stop. In a few cases, there are also weekly reading sections that are separated by a setumah, the space corresponding to nine letters. However, when reading the parashah of the week, Vayechi, from a Sefer Torah, draws attention that there is only a minimum separation of a space corresponding to a letter, a surprising fact that requires an explanation.
The midrash (Bereshit Rabba 96: 1) explains that the closure of parashat Vayechi has to do with Yaakov's death, which occurs at the beginning of it. According to this interpretation, after the patriarch's death "the eyes and hearts of the children of Israel were closed" as the time of slavery occurred in Egypt. Indeed, next week we will read how the Egyptians enslaved our people.
I find it interesting to reflect on how the life of the Hebrew people began to slowly "close," until it became unbearable. Egypt was the place where the sons of Yaakov were able to alleviate the famine that reigned in the land of Israel. They arrived with nothing, and at the request of their brother Yosef, who was second to Pharaoh at the time, they settled in a foreign land and prospered. The rest of the story is known: a new Pharaoh, one who did not know Yosef (or, as the Talmud says in Sota 11a, who "pretended not to know him"), ascends the Egyptian throne. The new king distrusts the Hebrews and begins to oppress them until they become slaves.
What began as a temporary settlement due to a drought and continued as a stable settlement given the prosperity of life in Egypt, will end up becoming one of the most traumatic experiences for the people of Israel. Already in the Torah, then, we see a sequence that is repeated over and over again in the history of the Jewish people: we are skilled at putting down roots and progressing in distant lands, but we do not always have the same wisdom to realize in time when we must. abandon them. Whether out of love for the place, for comfort, for believing that things cannot go beyond a certain limit, for family, economic or social ties, sometimes we react too late, when we are already "locked in."
This “locked up” parashah reminds us that we must always keep, unlike the Hebrews in Egypt, our eyes and hearts wide open. Remain attentive not only to economic well-being, but above all to the political and social situation that we have to live. It is our obligation as Jews to support in each place of our dispersion (although it sounds strange, our homes are that in the vision we make of the history of our people) the education of our children and grandchildren, the continuity of our traditions and the fulfillment of mitzvot, and stick together to have the strength to sustain when it is necessary to do so.