This week’s Parasha is Parashat Vayechi. It is the last reading from the book of Genesis and covers Genesis 47:28-50:26. After finishing the reading of a book of the Torah, it is traditional to say “Chazak, chazak v’nitchazek!”, which means “Be Strong, Be Strong, Let Us Be Strengthened!” Amen!
Here is a brief commentary from Baruch:
Recently I was speaking to some family and friends and the conversation moved to death. The oldest person who was part of the conversation was a man in his earlier eighties. He has made no plans whatsoever for his death and commented, “What do I care what happens to me after I die.” This man professes faith and what he was saying is that it makes no difference to him, where he is buried or how the burial takes place. Such an attitude was in stark contrast to the words of Jacob concerning his death. For Jacob commanded Joseph as he knew his death was approaching,
“If I have found grace in your eyes, please put your hand under my thigh and do with me kindness and truth—Do not bury me in Egypt.” Genesis 47:29
It is important to realize that Jacob’s request was not for his benefit, but rather to influence his family that Egypt was not the place for them. It is also most significant that Jacob did not just request any place in Israel, but the Cave of Machpelah in Hebron. Why specifically this location? The Patriarchs represent two important Biblical themes. The two themes are covenant and promise. In other words, Jacob wanted to cause his family, especially the new leader, Joseph, to remember that he and his brothers had a covenantal responsibility to HaShem and if they had any expectation of HaShem fulfilling the promises of this covenant then they would have to leave Egypt and settle in the Land of Israel.
Jacob’s action was the opposite of his brother Esau, who only thought about himself and his own generation. I am currently doing a study in 2 Peter. Peter also speaks about the promises of G-d (See 2 Peter 1:4) and in regard to those promises Peter states that the Divine Power of Messiah Yeshua will grow and mature the believer to inherit them. However, if one is not going through this process that Peter describes in verses 5-8, then Peter informs the reader that it is because the person “is blind and short sighted and has forgotten that he has been purified from his former sins” (Verse 9).
The point that I would like to emphasize from this verse is that Peter informs the reader that it is a great hindrance to the believer if he does not have a Kingdom perspective, i.e. if he is short sighted. Jacob was faithful because he used every aspect of his being, even his death and burial, to influence others concerning the plans and purposes of the living G-d. Good advice for all.