January 7, 2023: Parashat Torah Portion Vayechi
This week’s Parashah Torah Portion Vayechi is taken from Genesis 47:28-50:26. Join Dr. Jeffery Myers, as he exposes the fear of revenge that Joseph's brothers had, about Joseph and the vital perspective that Joseph had, that each of us need to possess!
Follow along in the AUDIO PODCAST, by clicking on the play button below, and reading along with the notes, as you listen to today's Parashah Torah Portion:
Lion of Judah Speaks: Parashah Torah Portion Vayechi - Genesis 47:28-50:26
Bersheet ends on a sublime note of reconciliation between Joseph and his brothers. Last week parashah’s key was about forgiveness and repentance. The brothers were afraid that Joseph was just delaying his revenge until Jacob, their father, died. After Jacob’s death they expressed their fear but Joseph said in Gen 50:19-21. “Don’t be afraid. Am I in the place of Yah? You intended to harm me, but Adonai intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives. So then, don’t be afraid. I will provide for you and your children. And he reassured them and spoke kindly to them.” What a crucial moment, the birth of forgiveness, the first recorded moment at which one person forgives another for a wrong they have done. It also reveals “divine providence”, in that, life has a purpose, point, and plot and Adonai is at work behind the scenes, in the past, present, and future of our lives. Because Adonai knows the end from the beginning, He shapes our end! Joseph’s greatness is the ability to sense Adonai in everything! He knew that nothing in his life had happened by accident. Whether it was a plot to kill him, to sell him into slavery, false accusations, time in prison, disappointments or broken expectations, all these could have cast him into a deep depression, pity party, or a “Why ME” moment. However, all of these events in his life, no matter how crushing, were necessary. Joseph’s journey, the purpose of Adonai in his life, required each and every event! This is true for all of us!
What did Joseph have that each of us need to possess? The perspective that everything has purpose which gives us the ability to keep going despite opposition, envy, false accusations, and repeated setbacks. If you live one hour, you will face opposition! To live is to have conflicts; to live is to face envy; to live is to have rivals. In the story of Moses and Aaron, Korach thought, “Why wasn’t it me?” Jealousy is destructive on all levels! The brothers’ jealousy of their father’s love toward Joseph would create a path of circumstances that would begin a horrific thing…throwing Joseph into a pit!
Setbacks can kill or propel us depending on the choices we make at the moment. There are many things that sustain people through repeated setbacks: belief in themselves, sheer tenacity, lack of alternatives but what sustained Joseph? It was his insight into divine providence! A plan was unfolding whose end he could only dimly discern. However, at some stage he seems to have realized that he was one of the characters in a far larger drama. The bad things that happened to him were necessary if the intended outcome was to occur! Do you get it yet?
Joseph said, “It was not you who sent me here but Elohim!” Are we there yet in our lives? This willingness to let events work themselves out in accordance with providence, this understanding that we are at best, no more than co-authors of our lives. This perception enabled Joseph to survive without resentment about the past or despair in the face of the future. Trust in Elohim gave him immense strength…this is what we need! Where do we put our trust or what do we put our trust in? Whatever people have done to you, whatever malice they harbor against you, if you say: “You intended to harm me, but Elohim intended it for good”, then you will survive! Halleluyah! Your strength will be intact and your life will continue to have meaning and purpose!
Joseph was able to extend forgiveness to his brothers’. We should exhibit a “Joseph mentality” within us. However, Joseph is not the only one we should emulate, Judah is also important in this narrative. Joseph and Judah possessed different strengths; each one “king” in his unique domain. Judah is rooted in the Hebrew word “hoda ah” meaning acknowledgment and submission. It represents action, an acknowledgment that we are merely servants of the Creator who must implement the “Divine Will” whether or not we comprehend its meaning.
Joseph’s name means to increase and represents the power of intellect, emotion, qualities which develop with maturity and experience. The 3-year-old girl that lights Shabbat candles just as her mother does, the difference between the two lies in the understanding and appreciation of the mitzvah.
We are commanded to understand Torah and to love Elohim but we must also serve Him because this is what He commanded us to do. Judah studied Torah and labored on refining his personality. Joseph unconditionally submitted to Elohim’s will. The difference between the two tribes was emphasis! Judah emphasized the primary action whereas Joseph stressed the importance of developing our Elohim-given talents. Jacob chose Judah to establish a Yeshiva in Egypt, because in times of exile, turmoil, and hardship, it is Judah’s legacy which ensures our continued allegiance to Elohim and His Holy Torah!
The heart and mind can be manipulated and swayed by suffering and trials but our inherent submission to Elohim can withstand any challenge that might come our way. We must teach our youth how to study Torah. It is important but not the most important because the key to their survival is leaders who follow the ruach of Judah—birthing in our children a sense of duty, the duties toward Elohim, the world, and certainly each other!
As we look at Joseph we see that Jacob’s blessing of his sons, Ephraim and Manasseh are important to us and important to our children. Gen. 48:15-16 says, “Then he blessed Joseph and said, “May the Yah before whom my fathers Abraham and Isaac walked faithfully, the Yah who has been my shepherd all my life to this day, the Angel who has delivered me from all harm- may he bless these boys. May they be called by my name and the names of my father Abraham and Isaac, and may they increase greatly on earth.” Jacob is asking that his name and the name of his father live on in these boys. He desires them to walk in the same blessings and covenant relationship that Elohim placed on the patriarchs. May our offspring be included in the Abrahamic legacy of covenant and blessing. We want them to be a powerful part of the covenant and blessings Elohim bestowed on our forefathers, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. Halleluyah and Amen!
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Elohim is great and greatly to be praised especially on this Sabbath day!
Give Him all your heart, will and mind! Worship the King! Have a great week and see you next Sabbath!
See you at the altar!
Shabbat Shalom Mishpocha