Weekly Portion: Vayechi (Genesis 47:28-50:26)

The Parsha opens with Jacob on his deathbed 17 years after arriving in Egypt. Jacob blesses Joseph’s two sons, Manasseh (Menashe) and Ephraim (to this day it is a tradition to bless our sons every Shabbat evening with the blessing, “May the Almighty make you like Ephraim and Manasseh” – they grew up in the Diaspora amongst foreign influences and still remained devoted to the Torah). He then individually blesses each of his sons. The blessings are prophetic and give reproof, where necessary. (The Shabbat evening blessing for girls is “to be like Sarah, Rivka, Rachel and Leah.”)

A large retinue from Pharaoh’s court accompanies the family to Hebron to bury Jacob in the Ma’arat Hamachpela, the burial cave purchased by Abraham. The Torah portion ends with the death of Joseph and his binding the Israelites to bring his remains with them for burial when they are redeemed from slavery and go to the land of Israel.

Thus ends the book of Genesis!

Dvar Torah
based on Love Your Neighbor by Rabbi Zelig Pliskin

The Torah states in the blessing of Yehuda and his descendants, that

“”His eyes shall be red with wine; and the teeth white with milk.”(Genesis 49:12)

What does this mean?

Rashi tells us that it is a blessing for fertility of the vineyards to produce an abundance of wine and a blessing that the sheep grazing on the land will produce an abundance of milk.

The Talmud (Ksubos 111b) states that the verse “his teeth white with milk” can be read (in the Hebrew) as “When one shows his teeth (in a smile) to his fellow man, it is better than giving him milk to drink.” How highly we would consider a person who gave drinks of milk to passersby everyday. What a benefactor of mankind!

Rabbi Avidgor Miller comments in Sing, You Righteous, that a drink of milk provides essential nourishment and becomes part of all that the recipient does thereafter. Yet this person does less than one who smiles at his fellow man. The smile enters the recipient’s mind and body, and stimulates all the glands to produce their secretions in the most beneficial proportions. Every one of the thousands of intricate processes of physical function is optimally motivated.


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