Vayechi – The Work of Art Called Our Own Existence

Something I wrote about 3 years ago on this week’s Torah portion, “The Work of Art Called Our Own Existence”

Prelude to Hope

My sermon from the LJS this Shabbat:

Our parasha is called ‘And he lived’ – that is Jacob. However, it is not, on the surface, a parasha about life. We read the death of Jacob and of Joseph. And the intertwined connections between these lives is apparent in the poetry of the section we read this morning:

Listen to the words – they have different meaning, but homophones in Hebrew are used brilliantly by the writers of the Bible to elicit meaning (from Genesis 49:28 etc):

Ani ne’esaf el ami – I will be gathered to my people

Vaye’esaf raglav – He drew up his legs

Vayipol yosef – Joseph fell on his face

Vay’tzav yosef – Joseph commanded

Seamlessly, we are drawn from the figure of a contracting Jacob, who is to be gathered unto his people, drawing his last breath, to the figure of Joseph. The patriarch is dead and…

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