Weekly Reading Insights: Vayechi 5767

Overview of the Weekly Reading, Vayechi

To be read on Shabbat Vayechi - 16 Tevet 5767 /January 6, 2007

Torah: 47:28-50:26;  Haftorah: Kings I 2:1-12 (David's deathbed words)

Vayechi, 12th out of 12 in Genesis, 12th overall, 44th out of 54 in overall length.

Vayechi:Yaacov realized that he would soon die, so he asked Yosef to swear that he would bury him with Yitzchak and Avraham in Machpeleh Cave in Hevron. Yaacov blessed Yosef's sons, Efraim and Menashe, and told Yosef that the city Shechem would be his eternal inheritance. Yaacov prophetically blessed each of his 12 sons in turn. After he died and the mourning period, Yosef got Pharaoh's permission to leave Egypt to bury his father in Israel. An entourage of Yaacov's family and Pharaoh's courtiers went to Israel with Yaacov's coffin.

After returning to Egypt, the brothers worried that Yosef might still hold a grudge against then for having sold him. Yosef assured them that what occurred was Divine Providence and for the best, and promised to fully sustain them and their families. Yosef lived long and saw his great grandchildren. He made his offspring swear to take his remains out of Egypt when they would eventually return to Israel. "Chazak, Chazak, Venitchazek!"


From the holy Zohar, teachings of Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai (Z:1267/Vayechi)

When the soul returns above, the feminine waters [the waters of malchut, the well] are aroused towards the masculine waters [the waters of yesod, which flow] and flow from below to above so that the [stagnant] well becomes a reservoir of flowing water. Then unity and harmony and the divine will are present, for the soul of the Tzadik brings perfection on high.

For the full article, click to the "Weekly Holidays" section on our KabbalaOnline site.

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From the holy Ari, Rabbi Yitzchak Luria of Safed (A:1267/Vayechi)

Jacob is also referred to as "the choicest of the forefathers", indicating that his way of serving G-d was in some way superior to that of Abraham and Isaac. As holy as Abraham and Isaac (and their respective ways of relating to and serving G-d) were, they each contained an element of imbalance that eventually surfaces as an imperfection

For the full article, click to the "Weekly Holidays" section on our KabbalaOnline site.

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From Rabbi Chaim (ben Moshe) Ibn Atar (S:1267/Vayechi)

Whenever Jacob experienced the kind of spiritual serenity we are meant to experience every Shabbat, he qualified for the name "Israel". The Torah therefore informs us about all these occasions by referring to him by his additional name. Whenever Jacob experienced worries, etc. this serenity departed from him similar to the departure of the additional soul from every Jew at the end of the Shabbat. At such times the Torah reverts to referring to our patriarch as being merely "Jacob".

For the full article, click to the "Weekly Torah" section on our KabbalaOnline site.


He blessed Joseph, and he said, "G-d...bless the lads..." (48:15, 16)

This verse opens by saying that Jacob blessed Joseph. Yet, we see from the next verse that Jacob blessed Joseph's children! However, "G-d bless the lads" is really Joseph's blessing. For what greater blessing can one have than that one's children would be blessed?
(The Zohar)


from the Chabad Master series, produced by Rabbi Yosef Marcus for

www.ascentofsafed.com and www.kabbalaonline.org


"Gather yourselves together, and I will tell you what will befall you in the last days." (Gen. 49:1)

Jacob spoke to his sons in a seemingly spontaneous manner. This is the manner in which Moshiach will arrive - with people paying no attention, seemingly by chance. A person will be involved with his work, and all of a sudden, he will see that Moshiach has arrived.
Baal Shem Tov

(from L'Chaim #802)

An essay from Rabbi Shaul Yosef Leiter, director of Ascent

(for a free weekly email subscription, click here) (W:1267/Vayechi)

Yaacov's blessings to his children were more than prophesies for them individually, they were teachings about the inner life of all of the Jewish people. Each line and phrase has numerous commentaries. To Yehuda, Yaacov says that he will wash his 'clothing' in wine. Rashi explains that this is a reference to the abundance of wine that will be found in the land allotted to Yehuda. Rabbi Schneur Zalman, the founder of the Chabad movement, takes this further.

The word levush, garment or clothing, is a code word for the three vehicles of expression of the soul: thought, speech and action. Every positive thought, speech or action (and, unfortunately, the negative of the same) that a person does all through their life becomes a garment for their soul, in this world and in the world to come. There are those who can see these "garments" in this life, but certainly, in our afterlife, everything we have done will be seen on us like a "class tie" or the type of jacket we are wearing. Our good deeds will be like a dress uniform or shine like medals, connecting a person to the true life team, the divine dimension.

What is Yaacov teaching us with the expression, washing our clothing in wine? Wine is also a code word. Wine hints to us about happiness, as the verse says, (Psalms 24) "Wine makes the heart of man happy". Only when our "garments" i.e. our thought, speech or actions are imbued with "wine" i.e. happiness, are we able to draw down the maximum divine energy to fully empower us in this physical world. This is the intention of the verse. Yaacov is instructing us to demand of ourselves that every thought, speech or action we do be "washed in wine" - thoroughly imbued with joy!

This is a lot to require of ourselves and often it is not easy. Some people can do it easily, others always find it hard. How do we, normal people, overwhelmed by the pressures of day to day life, arrive at this great joy, the happiness of the commandments in all we do? The Rebbe Rayatz of Lubavitch, said that wine is also a hint to the secrets of the Torah. Just like the juice is hidden inside the peel of the grape, the secrets of the Torah are hidden. Our job is to reveal them. When we delve into the secrets of the Torah, through our own vigorous study, or with the right teachers, and meditate into what part G-d really plays in our lives, this arouses in the heart of man a love and a connection to G-dliness. When you really love someone or something, anything you do for them is done with great joy and a special liveliness. The best way to guarantee that your "garment" will be washed in wine is to make sure you are studying Torah, especially the inner dimensions of the Torah, on a regular basis.

Shabbat Shalom, Shaul

P.S. Please also read my weekly Shabbat Law, below.

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