Parashat Vayehi

On his deathbed, Jacob blesses his sons and asks them to bury him in Canaan.

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The brothers then bowed low, saying, "Here we are your slaves."

But Joseph said to them, "Do not be afraid. For am I in the place of God. Even if you meant to do evil, God meant it for good, in order to bring about what is at present, in order to keep a numerous nation alive. And now, do not be afraid. I will provide for you and your children." He comforted them and spoke to their hearts.

So Joseph lived in Egypt with his brothers and saw the third generation of Ephraim and Menashe. Joseph said to his brothers, "I am dying. And God will surely remember you again one day and bring you up from this land to the land which God swore to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob."

Then Joseph made the brothers swear, "If God will remember you again one day, then you shall bring my bones up from this place." Joseph died at one hundred and ten years old and they embalmed him. Then he was placed in a coffin in Egypt in accordance with his wish.

Questions For Discussion

1. Why do you think Jews still bless their sons on the Sabbath saying, "May God make you as Ephraim and Menashe?" What is so special about them? How does it relate to the sons blessed today? How do Jews bless their daughters today?

2. On his deathbed Jacob gathers his sons and tells each of them what is to become of them in the days to come. What do you think will become of you in the days to come? What do you think will become of your loved ones? Why is this your vision?

3. After Jacob dies, the brothers fear Joseph’s punishment for their previous sins. Joseph instead comforts his brothers and speaks to their hearts. How do you comfort someone and speak to their heart? How are you best comforted by someone else?

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Nancy Reuben Greenfield

Nancy Reuben Greenfield has written three adaptations of the Torah, including an
interactive family version at www.TiptoeThroughTheTorah.com, and an engaging
Jewish immigrant novel, The Golden Medina, available on itunes and Amazon.