VaYechi (5779)

Drash Cards for VaYechi (5779)

by Marc Mangel

  • Today – in the third part of the triennial cycle – we read about the deaths of Yaakov and of Yosef.
  • From these, we learn two practical things and one spiritual thing.
  • Josef goes to bury his father: “So Yosef went up to bury his father, and with him went up all of Pharaoh’s servants, the elders of his household, and all the elders of the land of Egypt and all of Yosef’s household – his brother’s and his father’s household (Ch 50, v 7-8). All the important people of Egypt when to Yaakov’s funeral.
  • From this verse, Rosie Saltsmann teaches in a Portion of Kindness: The last chesed we get to do with someone (unless we are a close relative) is to participate in their funeral. It is a chesed shel emet (kindness of truth) because the deceased cannot do a chesed back for us”.
  • She goes on “No one likes to attend funerals – people prefer the more comfortable, convenient and less awkward setting of a shiva call. And while it is very important to pay shiva calls, it is also a chesed to the family to come to the funeral of their loved one”.
  • In Torah Gems, S. Ludmir notes that we are given Josef’s age twice in 4 verses “Yosef dwelt in Egypt. He and his father’s household and Josef lived one hundred and ten years (Ch 50, v 22)” and “Josef died at the age of one hundred ten years. They embalmed him and he was placed in a coffin in Egypt” (50:26).
  • Ludmir quotes Daat Sofrim : Josef is the only one of the entire houseful of Jacob to have merited his death and age recorded in the Torah. In this he was compared to the Patriarchs.
  • In his commentary Daily Wisdom, the Rebbe writes

“After the account of Jacob in Egypt, the Torah gives us the inspiration that will sustain us until the end of our exile: ‘Joseph was placed in a coffin in Egypt’ [Ch 50 v 26]. We are not alone:  Joseph is with us in exile reminding us that we too can rise above exile and transform it into Redemption”.

  • Ludmir echoes the Rebbe: “The presence of Josef’s coffin in Egypt symbolized that his spirit would remain with his children during the hardships awaiting them. On this note of comfort, Bereishit comes to an end – the end of the Patriarchal epoch but the beginning of a nation”
  • From the verses about Yosef’s age Paaneach Rozo teaches that we make monuments and inscribe the name of the deceased on the grave.
  • The practical i) we should attend funerals, ii) inscribe the name and age of the deceased on the tombstone. The spiritual iii) wherever we are we can enhance Judaism