Updated: Dec 28, 2020
Parashat Vayechi / פרשת וַיְחִי
Read in the Diaspora on 2 January 2021 (18 Tevet 5781).
Parashat Vayechi is the 12th weekly Torah portion in the annual Jewish cycle of Torah reading.
Torah Portion: Genesis 47:28-50:26
Parashat Vayech finishes up the book of Genesis, Bereishit is the first book of Torah.
Jacob has lived the last seventeen years of his life happy and comfortable. He sees that he is about to die and wants to bless his sons. He first calls for Joseph and his sons, Ephraim and Manasseh. Although Ephraim is the younger, he blesses him first. He tells Joseph that even though they are his grandchildren, he is adopting them as his sons. Thus, Joseph becomes the first born and through his sons get a double portion.
Jacob then blesses his other sons. First he blesses the first borns of Leah. Reuben is the first born but because he is impetuous, he forfeits that. Joseph is the royalty, Judah is the leader and ancestor of the Davidic line, and the Levites are the priests. Jacob curses the anger of Levi and Simeon.
Dan is like a snake and judges his people, a foreshadow of Samson the judge. Naphtali is a hind let loose. Gad is a warrior, always can be counted on to defend Israel during battle. Asher raises honey is his land, and supplies goods to the Israelites when they do battle.
Issachar and Zebulan are partners. Zebulan is seafaring and deals with fish while Issachar pastures animals and studies Torah. The last blessed are the sons of Rachel. Joseph has gained wisdom. Benjamin is a wolf; His descendants are Saul, the first king, and Mordechai, who helps saves the Jewish people while in exile between the first and second Temples.
Jacob has Joseph promise to bury him in the cave at Machpelah, where is buried Abraham and Sara and Isaac and Rebecca, and Leah. Joseph accepts the vow and thus Pharaoh allows him to do so even though he is important to Egypt.
Joseph assures his brothers after Jacob dies that he still loves them and will not seek vengeance for them selling him into slavery. He conveys to the children of Israelto keep faith during the struggles ahead. "G-d will surely remember you, and bring you up out of this land to the land of which He swore to Abraham, Issac and Jacob. Joseph lives to be 110 and dies. And thus Genesis comes to an end.