VaYehi – And They Lived
SEEING BEAUTY WITHIN CONSTRAINT.
adapted with Living Torah by R Aryeh Kaplan and MetaParshiyot by R David Wolfe-Blank
This Torah portion is about Yaacov‘s last days. It completes the book of Braysheet; Genesis. Yaacov‘s final act was to give blessings to his grandchildren and children. Some of them received warnings.
Interestingly, some of the sons are given animal names as part of Yaacov‘s blessing. Yehudah, is a lion; Yisaskhar, a donkey; Dan, a snake or viper; Naftali, a deer; Yoseph, a bull; Benyamin, a wolf.
After death, Yaacov and is embalmed, as was practiced in Egypt at that time. Yoseph and the family journey to bring him back to the ancestral caves for burial.
After that, the family rests comfortably in Egypt and ride out the famine in safety, for a while.
The First Blessing Goes to Yoseph and his sons Ephraim and Menashe.
Yoseph is Yaacov’s favored, long lost, and recently found son. He managed to rescue the entire family from famine releasing the fact his brothers had sold him into slavery. (He is often called Yoseph the Tzaddik.) Yaacov blesses him and his children first and elevates both of these grandchildren as tribal heads, along with his sons. Yoseph and his lineage now hold an elevated status with the tribe of Yisrael.
Yaacov surprised Yoseph by placing his right hand on the second born son, Ephraim, and his left hand on Menashe. Even when Yoseph pointed out the reversal and tried to get him to change the positioning, Israel insisted on giving the blessing that way.
The name “Yisrael” is used rather than “Yaacov“. From this we learn that he was in a state of expanded consciousness . This was as explained in a previous post parashat VaYishlah, click here to view.
“HaMalakh haGoel” – “The Angel Who Saves”
“HaMalakh haGoel“, “The angel who saves” is a potent and beautiful chant found in this Torah portion. Sefer Maavar Yabbok includes it among sacred psalms, songs, and verses to help a gosses/et (someone in the process of dying) complete their transition into death, when tarrying. There are several beautiful and powerful verses included in the list. Sefer Maavar Yabbok Eyt Yetziat haNeshamah – the time during which the soul exits p 98 Vilna Edition.
Yaacov’s blessing to Ephraim and Menashe
This is the second part of the blessing Yisrael gave Ephraim and Menashe.
הַמַּלְאָךְ֩ הַגֹּאֵ֨ל אֹתִ֜י מִכָּל־רָ֗ע יְבָרֵךְ֘ אֶת־הַנְּעָרִים֒ וְיִקָּרֵ֤א בָהֶם֙ שְׁמִ֔י וְשֵׁ֥ם אֲבֹתַ֖י אַבְרָהָ֣ם וְיִצְחָ֑ק וְיִדְגּ֥וּ לָרֹ֖ב בְּקֶ֥רֶב הָאָֽרֶץ
The angel who saved me from all harm,
bless these children,
and let them carry my name
and the name of my fathers; Avraham and Yitzhak,
and may they multiply abundantly like fish,
throughout the midst of the land.Genesis 48:17
VAY’HI in the S’firah Cycle counts HOD IN G’VURAH
Hod, is on the left hand side of the Tree of Life (the G’vurah side). Hod pauses the flow of energy until it is polished, and appropriately refined for movement. This parashah holds the wisdom of Yaacov as he poetically and straightforwardly delivers blessings and challenges to his progeny. This is an act of Hod of G’vurah – to give an evaluation of weaknesses and strengths in a clear and yet, poetic manner. There is a distinct beauty to the process alongside an edge. G’vurah discerns and Hod refines in a way that enhances the beauty of the moment. Hod in G’vurah in Vayehi discerns channels (opportunities, progeny, individuals) likely to cultivate and manifest Presence. The intention is to bring Presence and the blessing that comes with it into the world.
This is the final parashah in the book of Genesis. The story continues in the next book, Sh’mot Exodus..