Shabbat Greetings from Stuart Skolnick – December 13, 2013

Stuart SkolnickThe end is near”. That catch phrase was a staple of protest signs and editorial cartoons in the 1960’s and 1970’s. It probably was used in the 60’s and 70’s of past centuries as well. It’s appropriate to quote it again this Shabbat.  In our case, the end is not only near but here. As we begin to read Parashat Va-y’chi, we know that we are reading the last chapters of Genesis.

 There are other ends that occur in this week’s reading. We learn of the final days of Jacob and with his passing, the era of the Patriarchs is over. As he blesses Joseph’s sons, Ephraim and Manasseh he invokes the names of Abraham and Isaac. We add Jacob’s name when referring to the Avot so we use all three of them to represent the forefathers of our people. And it is in this Torah reading that we have the first mention of the three Patriarchs together. We also read of the end of Joseph’s life and as he is about to die, he calls his brothers together. He is the first one to group Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob together as he promises his brothers that God will redeem them from Egypt and return them to the land that was promised to those forefathers.

Jacob asks Joseph to swear that his remains will return to the Cave of Machpelah for burial. He cannot imagine the thought of being buried in Egypt especially knowing that his father, grandfather, their wives and one of his wives are all buried together in the Cave. Similarly, Joseph makes his brothers swear that they will take his remains out of Egypt and back to the Promised Land. So Va-y’chi gives us many endings to consider. But one of these is not the end of the Torah or the end of learning. As we all know from Simchat Torah, our cycle is endless. So this end is just the lead-in to the beginning of the next chapter is our people’s story. Come back next week to learn what happens!

Shabbat Shalom!

Author: Melissa