Parshas Vayechi


The final portion of the first book of the Torah describes Jacob’s actions immediately preceding his death in Egypt. Jacob makes Joseph swear to bury him in the land of Israel, and then gives Joseph’s two sons, Menashe and Ephraim, a special blessing. Notwithstanding Joseph’s protest, Jacob insists on giving the younger Ephraim the right-hand position of primacy during the blessing (is this the origin of ‘my right-hand man’?). Jacob then proceeds to give each of his other sons their individual blessings in accordance with their own unique character traits and life purpose.

Jacob passes away at the age of 147. He then is brought by his sons and accompanied by a great procession of Egyptian royalty to the land of Israel where he is buried in M’aras HaMachpelah (The Tomb of the Patriarchs). Upon returning to Egypt, Joseph’s brothers fear that he will finally take revenge now that their father is dead. However, Joseph reassures them that he bears no hard feelings. The portion concludes with Joseph’s death and the Jewish people’s promise to carry his bones with them to Israel when they are finally redeemed.

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