Vayechi

Yaakov entered the land of Egypt at the age of 130, he went on to spend 17 further years in the land, Yaakov then sensed that his days were drawing to an end and he summoned Yosef.

He made Yosef swear to bury him in the Machpela Cave (Bereishit 47:28-31), which was the burial place of Adam and Chava, Avraham and Sara, Yitzchak and Rivka. Leah had also been buried at this place and he was to be buried next to her.

Upon visiting Yaakov, Yosef had actually reduced Yaakov’s illness by one sixtieth (Nedarim 39b), as the Talmud teaches us how important it is to visit the sick, as one individual coming to help and support someone in a bad state can alleviate ones mood.

Yaakov later on fell further ill and Yosef brought his two sons, Ephraim and Menashe (Bereishit 48:19). Yaakov then went on to bless his grandchildren, Ephraim and Menashe to the status of his own sons (Bereishit 48:8-21), thus giving Yosef a double portion of the 12 tribes and he also removed Reuven as the first born and awarded it to Yosef in turn.

Yaakov was blinded in his old age, just as Yitzchak was, Yosef lead his sons close to their grandfather.

Yaakov then began to bless them, giving precedence to Ephraim, the younger, however Yosef interrupted him and informed him that Menashe is the older of the two. However Yaakov explained that he intended to bless Ephraim with his strong hand because he foresaw through prophecy that Yehoshua will descend from Ephraim, and Yehoshua will be both the conqueror of Israel and the teacher of Torah to the Jewish People, in fact he was leader of the Jewish people for 28 years after Moshe had died, and he defeated many of the Canaanite countries. Yehoshua was so great that he in fact made the sun stay still for 36 hours during one of his wars (Avodah Zara 25).

Yaakov then summoned the rest of his sons in order to bless all of them as well. Yaakov gave blessings to reflect the unique character and ability of each tribe, directing each one in its unique mission in serving Hashem.

Yaakov blessed his first three children born to Leah. In each of the blessings was an implied rebuke, they were given to Reuven, Shimon and Levi. He expressed his disappointment with Reuven within regards to him moving his fathers couch (Bereishit 49:4), and rebuked Shimon and Levi due to the way they went about there actions in Shechem (Bereishit 49:6). However we do see later on throughout the Chumash that Levi channeled their zealousness to G-d as they were the Torah scholars in Egypt and were the only tribe to protest against the Golden Calf (Shemot 32:26).

Yaakov then gave a powerful blessing to Yehudah (Bereishit 49:8-12), praising him for the way he dealt with Tamar. He handed over the kingship to Yehudah and compared him to a ‘Lion.’ Many great leaders were to descend from Yehudah, including, Nachshon, Betzalel, David and Shlomo, we see many of the great Princes of Eretz Yisrael also took great pride in descending from Yehudah (Sanhedrin 5a).

Yaakov then gave beautiful blessings to the rest of the tribes, Yissacher, Zebulan, Naftali, Asher, Gad and Benyamin. He also blessed the tribe of ‘Dan’ comparing him to a serpent, he was alluding to the great later judge, Shimshon, who was a nazrite by birth and went on to become one of the greatest leaders of all time, slaying many of the enemy of the Jews, including thousands of Pelishtim (Bereishit Rabba 78:9/ Sota 10).

Yaakov died at the age of 147 years. Yaakov was given the utmost respect in his funeral, as all the leaders of the different nations accompanied him in burial. Extraordinarily, an opinion in the Talmud states that Yaakov never really died (Taanit 5b), one thing for sure is, is that till today his legacy still lives on, being one of our three forefathers.

After Yaakov died, the brothers were worried that Yosef would now take revenge on them for selling him. Yosef reassured them, even promising to support them both emotionally and financially and their families (Bereishit 50:15-21).

Yosef lived out the remaining of his years in Egypt as deputy, and even went on to see Ephraim's great-grandchildren live. Yosef informed his brothers before he died, that G-d would later on redeem them out of Egypt. He made the brothers swear to bring his bones out of Egypt with them at the time of redemption, actually in few weeks time we will see that Moshe would be the one to carry his bones out of Egypt (Sota 9).

Yosef passed away at the age of 110 (Bereishit 50:26), he was the youngest to die out of his brothers. One opinion according to the Talmud for his early death was because he took a position of authority (Sota 13). This is how we conclude the book of Bereishit; we will be starting of the book of Shemot in next weeks reading.

The Haftorah for this weeks reading comes from Chapter 2 in the book of Kings where King David delivered his death message to his son, Shlomo.

This weeks dvar torah is dedicated to Moshe Ben Yael Leah, for him to live a physically and spiritually healthy long life, rich in mitzvot with many descendants of descendants to be very rich in mitzvot. Shabbat Shalom!