Parshat Hashavua

Parshah Vayechi: Blessings

Shabbat Shalom! We conclude the book of Bereshit with this week’s parshah Vayechi. Vayechi can be translated as “and he lived”. What does it mean to live? According to our sources, Jacob is 147 years old, he has been living in Egypt for the past 17 years and his life is nearing the end of its time on Earth. How does Jacob remain alive after his physical body is no longer present? Jacob creates and disseminates an ethical will to his favored son Joseph. Friday evening we bless our sons to make them like Efraim and Menashe. Clearly, we understand that Efraim and Menashe were not part of the 12 tribes. Jacob summoned Joseph and Joseph brought his two children to meet his father (their grandfather). Jacob shares the importance of the land of Canaan and he physically blesses Efraim and Menashe and elevates their status to be included in the 12 tribes. Additionally Jacob blesses each of his sons.

How often do we earnestly bless one another? It is common in America to say “bless you” when someone sneezes…this is not the Jewish response. In modern Hebrew we say, labriut – to your health, In Yiddish the response to someone sneezing is gezundheit to wish them good health. Has the authentic act of bestowing blessings been relegated to end of life discussions with loved ones? In Judaism we have specific committees and groups to pray or visit those who are ill, but what about other blessings we can and should perform? We are not hard wired to bless in the same way we are to wish or to hope.

With this in mind, Shalom Home is happy to announce we will be starting a Shabbos Cholent Study, abbreviated as SCS. Our first SCS session will take place on Shabbat Shemot, Saturday January 6th from 11:30am-12:30pm, at Shalom Home. Meat (with kishka) as well as vegan cholent will be served.

Shabbat Shalom!