In this week’s parasha our father Ya’akov of blessed memory passes away. Although a very mournful event we know and realize that our Lord is the G-d of the living. The name of this parasha is Vayechi, and he lived, while this is the section in which the description is placed of Ya’akov’s passing away. Beautiful. That said we continue and we will see our father Ya’akov again as it says in the text of Torah: “He expired and was gathered to his people” (Genesis 49:33). Sad and interestingly enough right after the passing away of our father Ya’akov the spiritual exile begins for the then still small people of Israel. This will be followed as we know by the material exile after the passing away of Ya’akov’s sons, our tribal fathers.
In the text we see a clear hint to not apply cremation to our loved ones who passed away, but burial. Ya’akov asks his son Yosef to transport his body to Chevron to bury it there in the family grave – by the way instead of the Mount of Olives. Ya’akov also showed with this act that the Jewish state of Israel is the inheritance of the Jewish people.
A third important issue in the text is the blessing Ya’akov is asked to give to the sons of Yosef, once Yosef hears that Ya’akov is ill after Yosef leaves Goshen. The prophetic Ya’akov does two important things:
1. he takes away the status of firstborn from Reuben and gives it to the sons of Yosef.
2. he reverses the firstborn status of Menashe and Efraim so that the younger Efraim is placed under Ya’akov’s right hand, the hand of the firstborn. And Ya’akov shows to the protesting Yosef that he realizes who was born first, but that the younger gets the first position because of his greater destination. By blessing Yosef’s two sons Yosef’s line receives a double blessing. Because of Ya’akov’s choice we still bless our children in that same order.
Of all the brothers it is Yudah who is blessed in a special way. All the descendants of Ya’akov who is called Israel are named after Yuda and are called Yehudim, Jews. The fact that the two kingdoms split after on has nothing to do with this fact, simply because this situation happened first. We see in the book Esther mentioned seven times that the Benjaminite Mordechai is called a Jew.
The Messiah would be the offspring of Yudah. An honor for him! Mashiach ben Yosef in the person of Yeshua was indeed a son of Yudah. The returning Mashiach ben David will be king ruling from Jerusalem and we will recognize him as the Jewish Yeshua, son of David, son of Ya’akov who is Israel. It’s all one big family affair.
Lion S. Erwteman, Rosh Kehillat Beth Yeshua,