Parashat Vayehi 5784

December 26, 2023

Rabbi Marge Wise

As I prepared to write a D’var Torah for parashat Vayehi – with my Tanakh, my research notes and my computer open in front of me, my thoughts kept going to the date later in the week of the yahrzeit of my husband, Rabbi Joseph H. Wise z”l. I looked it up and parashat Vayehi was read on the Shabbat following his passing which seemed to further connect the parashah and the yahrzeit.

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Parashat Veyehi 5783

January 3, 2023

Click HERE for an audio recording of this D’var Torah Wrestling With Our Names: Lessons from Jacob/Israel A D’var Torah for Parashat Vayehi By Rabbi Rena Kieval (’06) Each of us has a name given by God and given by our parents Each of us has a name given by our stature and our smile and given by what we wear Each of us has a name given by the mountains and given by our walls Each of us has a name given by the stars and given by our neighbors Each of us has a name given by our sins and given by our longing Each of us has a name given by our enemies and given by our love Each of us has a name given by our celebrations and given by our work Each of us has a name given by the seasons and given by our blindness Each of...

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Parashat Vayehi 5782

December 17, 2021

A D’var Torah for Parashat Vayehi By Rabbi Marc Rudolph (’04) Click HERE for an audio recording of this D‘var Torah   In Act ll of Richard the Second, Shakespeare tells us that:   The tongues of dying men Enforce attention like deep harmony: Where words are scarce, they are seldom spent in vain, For they breathe truth/ that breathe their words in pain.   This week’s parasha recounts the dying words of Yaakov avinu. As you recall,  Jacob has brought his entire family to Egypt and for seventeen years has been reunited with his beloved son Joseph. The parasha opens with Jacob summoning his children to his bedside. With his last words Jacob rebukes some of his sons, prays for others, gives blessings to some, recalls memories, shares psychological insights, delivers warnings and imparts hope. After blessing his youngest son, Benjamin, Jacob speaks no more. The Torah tells us that he gathers his...

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Parashat Vayehi 5781

January 1, 2021

Click HERE for an audio recording of this D’var Torah A D’var Torah for Parashat Vayehi By Rabbi Jill Hackell (’13)The Smothers brothers had an ongoing routine in which Tommy (the older brother), complained to Dickie (the younger brother), “Mom always liked you best”. It was funny because their squabbles reflected the sibling rivalry that was present, to some degree, in every family. I didn’t realize at the time that it also reflected almost the entire book of Bereshit (Genesis) in the Torah. Parental favoritism – especially of the younger child over the older – and sibling rivalry is a theme that runs throughout. Brothers vie for position, for approval, for birthright, for blessing, and time after time, it is the younger, rather than the elder who is favored. Here are some examples. Jacob and Esau struggle with each other even in the womb. Esau, the firstborn, is favored by his father, Jacob by his...

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Parashat Vayehi 5780

January 10, 2020

A D’var Torah for Parashat Vayehi By Rabbi David Markus This last Torah portion of the Book of Genesis (Vayeḥi) concludes the drama of Jacob, Joseph and his brothers. The dramatic saga – their troubled family dynamics, power and power inversions, regret, guilt, fear, their very lives – it all finally reaches a settled tableau. Jacob is buried, hatchets are buried (maybe), and Joseph’s body is embalmed. With them, Torah’s first era of Jewish ancestry ends. Of course, their deaths are Torah’s fertilizer for the future. Reflecting God’s promise to Abraham long before (Gen. 15:13), by design all of this week’s endings are mere prelude. The next chapter soon will open by recounting those generations (Ex. 1:1-6), and a new king of Egypt will rise to life who knows not Joseph (Ex. 1:8). Centuries of bondage will commingle death and life until only supernatural deaths – the Tenth Plague and the drowning of...

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