Parshat Vayechi1

Learning Group–Parshat Vayechi

(Genesis-47:28-50:26)

(Haftara: Kings I 2:1-12)

1. [48:14] Ya’akov got the rights of the first-born even though he was younger than Esav. Now he is giving the rights of the first-born to Ephraim even though he is younger than Menashe. Why is he doing this and what does this tell us about the Torah’s view of the rights of the first-born?

2. [49:3] “…Reuven…you are my strength…unstable as water”. How can Reuven be Ya’akov’s strength (and support) and also be unstable as water?

3. [48:15] “…God, whom my fathers walked in front of…” Ya’akov says that his forefathers walked in front of God. Noach, however, walked with God [6:9]. What is the difference between walking “in front of God”, and walking “with God”?

4. [49:18] “For your salvation I hope, God”. Ya’akov says this short prayer in the middle of his blessings for his sons. This prayer does not seem to relate to anything that he is saying. Why does Ya’akov say it?

5. [Haftara: Melachim I, 20:6] “Do not let his old head go down to the grave in peace.” Personal revenge is not allowed by the Torah, but apparently revenge for the sake of the community would be allowed. Isn’t this a dangerous distinction? Someone could justify his personal revenge by saying that it is for the good of the community. What are the positive and negative sides of this distinction?

Commentary

[48:16] “May the angel who redeemed me from all evil bless the youth…”

Why is the word “youth (ne’arim)” used here? The word is not usually used in this context. Ya’akov wants to bless Ephraim and Menashe with the blessing of never-ending youthfulness. Ya’akov is saying, “May you always have the enthusiasm of youth in serving God”.

–R. Yitzchak Meir Alter, the Gerrer rebbe, 1798-1866, Poland.

This study page is dedicated to the memory of Sarah Bella bat Yitzchak Kummer, Chaim Yosef Yechiel ben Eliyahu Kummer and Eliyahu and Margaret Kummer

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