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Vayechi(Genesis 47:28-50:26)

Vayechi 5768

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GOOD MORNING! Ever wonder why you do not maintain a sense of happiness after finally obtaining a material goal? Mel Fisher, the Florida treasurer hunter who passed away, spent 14 years searching for the Atocha's sunken treasure and then found it! After the immediate joy, he felt depressed and ... immediately started another search. Why do we continue to strive to obtain more and more things in our life, but often don't find them satisfying? Below is an excerpt from Dearer Than Life -- Making Your Life More Meaningful shared with permission of its author, Rabbi Abraham J. Twerski, M.D. I think it gives some insight.

"Much of Western culture appears to consider happiness as the ultimate goal in life, and defines ideal happiness as freedom from all distress and enjoyment of all pleasures. This is certainly not the Torah concept, which considers human life to be mission-oriented, with every person having a reason for his existence and a specific assignment to complete on earth. If being content were all there is to seek in life, then endowing man with the capacity of intelligence was counterproductive. Cows in the pasture are undoubtedly far more content than sophisticated humans. Seeking meaning in merely being content hardly befits an intelligent person.

"In order for a person to have self-esteem and a feeling of value, life must have meaning. In fact, meaning and value are inseparable.

" 'Esteem' comes from the Latin word that means to evaluate or to appraise. Let us look at what is the basis of self-esteem and how we ascribe value to anything.

"If we look around at all the objects in our homes, we will find that with the exception of items that have sentimental value only, we value things for one of two reasons: aesthetic or functional. Thus, you may have a handsome grandfather clock whose mechanism has broken and cannot be repaired. You nonetheless keep the clock because it is an attractive piece of furniture and it beautifies your home. However, if your can opener broke, you would undoubtedly get rid of it, because it has no aesthetic value, and since it can no longer serve its purpose it has no value at all.

"Let us now apply these criteria to ourselves. There may be a few people who are so attractive that they can consider themselves ornamental, but most of us cannot really think of ourselves as having great aesthetic value. This leaves us only with function as a basis for value, and raises the question: Just what is our function? What purpose do we serve?

"While the hedonist may at least, temporarily, gratify his physical desires, can he really find purpose in being content? What can the hedonist do when the existential question of finding meaning and purpose in life intrudes itself into his consciousness? Too often his only recourse is to try and distract himself from such thinking, and not infrequently he may render himself oblivious to the tormenting feeling of worthlessness by numbing his mind with substance abuse." (end of excerpt)

So, if there is no ultimate meaning in comfort, how does one fill his life with real meaning? If one asks himself what is worth dying for he will have a better understanding of what is worth living for. Ultimately, it will be a spiritual goal -- to transform oneself from an earthy creature to a spiritual entity, to emulate the Almighty, to perfect the world, to do kindness. Rabbi Twerski's book explores the pieces of the puzzle and clarifies the path for making one's life more meaningful and more satisfying. It is available at your local Jewish bookstore, at judaicaenterprises.com or by calling toll-free to 877-758-3242

For more on "Happiness" go to ShabbatShalomAudio.com!

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Torah Portion of the Week
Vayechi

The parsha, Torah portion, 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. The Shabbat evening blessing for girls is "to be like Sarah, Rivka, Rachel and Leah.") He then individually blesses each of his sons. The blessings are prophetic and give reproof, where necessary.

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 Growth Through Torah by Rabbi Zelig Pliskin

Before Jacob's death, the Torah tells us,

"And Ya'akov (Jacob) called to his sons, and he said, 'Gather together and I will tell you what will befall you in the end of days' " (when the Jewish people will be redeemed from galus, exile) (Genesis 49:1).

What did Ya'akov mean when he used the phrase "Gather together"?

When Ya'akov told his sons to gather together he meant that they should have achdus , unity amongst themselves. Only when there is unity among the descendants of Ya'akov can there be redemption. If there is not yet unity, it is not yet time for redemption.

With this we can understand what Yosef's brothers meant when they said to him later on (Genesis 50:16-7) that before Ya'akov's death he requested that Yosef forgive them. No where in the Torah is it recorded that Ya'akov asked Yosef to forgive his brothers. However, the commentary of the Shaloh tells us that the answer can be seen in our verse where Ya'akov asks the brothers to "Gather together". Ya'akov was asking all of them, including Yosef, for unity and the deep love that comes from unity. Where there is love, there is forgiveness.

This is a crucial issue for our time. People are very different from one another in many ways. However, if all the descendants of Ya'akov realize how important it is to have achdus, this unity will bring about a love that transcends the specific complaints one person has against another.


CANDLE LIGHTING - December 21
(or go to http://www.aish.com/shabbat/candlelighting.asp)

Jerusalem 4:05
Guatemala 5:20 - Hong Kong 5:26 - Honolulu 5:36
J'Burg 6:41 - London 3:35 - Los Angeles 4:29
Melbourne 8:24 - Mexico City 5:45 - Miami 5:18
New York 4:14 - Singapore 6:46 - Toronto 4:25



QUOTE OF THE WEEK:

Love people for what they are;
don't judge them for what they're not.



Happy 50th Wedding Anniversary
Lynn & Paul Leight
With love, Madeline & Stephen Barkin

Published: December 15, 2007

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