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Vayechi(Genesis 47:28-50:26)

Vayechi 5764

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GOOD MORNING!  Recently, I attended a Simon and Garfunkel "Old Friends" concert. Looking around, I couldn't decide if it was more like an AARP convention or a geriatric ward. One middle-aged guy (he's middle- aged if he lives to be 110) yelled out "I feel like I'm 30 again." I didn't feel like I was 30 again. I felt like I'm in my 50's watching two very talented singers who are definitely not 30 again singing to a group of people who wished they were 30 again and who were wondering where have the years gone and what have we done with them?

In last week's Torah portion, the patriarch Jacob meets Pharaoh. Pharaoh takes one look at Jacob and the first words out of his mouth are, "How old are you?" I cannot imagine Dick Cheney bringing his mother to meet President Bush and the President's first words are, "How old are you?" Jacob must have looked very old to have elicited a question about his age. Jacob answers:

"I am 130 years old ... few and bad have been the days of the years of my life.." (Genesis 47:9)

Jacob spent 22 years mourning for Joseph; he focused on his pain and what he felt he had not accomplished. And it showed in his appearance.

We all have obligations in life - to ourselves, to those around us, to the Almighty. We owe ourselves and the Almighty to make the most of this world and accomplish as much as possible to perfect ourselves and the world. We owe it to those around us to at least not add to their burdens. A smile brightens the day and lessens the load for yourself and others. And as we grow older, many people tend to focus on themselves and are very happy to share their focus with anyone who will listen - or with anyone who at least won't walk away.

I received the following piece from Nechama Greenfield and felt that it is worth sharing ... and worth keeping.


A PRAYER FOR THOSE GROWING OLDER

Lord, Thou knowest that I am growing older.

Keep me from becoming talkative and possessed with the idea that I must express myself on every subject.

Release me from the craving to straighten out everyone's affairs.

Keep me from the recital of endless detail. Give me wings to get to the point.

Seal my lips when I am inclined to tell of my aches and pains; they are increasing with the years and my love to speak of them grows sweeter as time goes by.

Teach me the glorious lesson that occasionally I may be wrong.

Make me thoughtful but not nosey; helpful but not bossy.

With my vast store of wisdom and experience it does seem a pity not to use it all. But Thou knowest, Lord, that I want a few friends at the end.

In Pirkei Avos ("Ethics of the Fathers," found in the back of many prayer books), Rabbi Elazar HaKappar tells us, "...against your will you were born; against your will you live; against your will you die, and against your will you will give a judgment and accounting before the King of kings, the Holy One" (5:29). We may have not asked to be born, but most of us do not want to let go of this life. Let us make it as pleasant as possible for ourselves and others as we proceed towards that final accounting.


Torah Portion of the Week
Vayechi

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.



CANDLE LIGHTING - January 9:
(or Go to http://www.aish.com/candlelighting)

Jerusalem  4:17
Guatemala 5:31  Hong Kong 5:38  Honolulu 6:22
J'Burg 6:46  London 3:52  Los Angeles 4:43
Melbourne 8:27  Miami 5:28  Moscow 3:58
New York 4:28  Singapore  6:55



QUOTE OF THE WEEK:

A smile is a small curve
which straightens out many problems.



In Loving Memory of
Rena Rachel Rivka bas
Binyamin HaCohen Zemel

by her children




Published: December 31, 2003

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Visitor Comments: 2

(2) Michael, January 9, 2004 12:00 AM

Re: About smiling

Manuel, it is never too late! I grew up thinking the same way about conveying seriousness, but now make a real point of smiling and conveying optimism and goodwill. Push yourself to give at least a little smile to someone today, especially when saying "Good Shabbos".
:-)

(1) Manuel, January 4, 2004 12:00 AM

About smiling

One of my biggest problems is that I am too shameful to smile

I have grown up thinking that having a severe facial expression was indeed the expression of being a serious and responsible individual

How wrong I was, now it is too late

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