Torah Portion: Vayechi (And He Lived) B’Resheet (Gen.) 47-50
HafTorah: I Kings 2:1-12
This Torah portion is the last of the book of Genesis. Interestingly, it is named “And He Lived” while included in this portion we read of the death of both Jacob and Joseph. This brings me to the first point I would like to talk about. Why would a Torah portion named, “He Lived” devote much of its time to the death of these two men? I think it has to do with the way scripture looks at time. For example the Greeks looked at time as cyclical, never reaching an ending point but always starting over again, there will always be another tomorrow. The Jews, and I believe we would be the same, look at time as covenantal. For example, here in Genesis in chapter 12 we read of G-d’s promise to Avraham that his descendants will be as the stars in the heavens. He would be given a Land for his people. Yet by the end of Deut./D’Varim the people have not crossed into the Land. The people did not despair, the promise was always before them.
In our lives as believers we should live each day with this same promise before us. G-d gave us the Messiah and that gives us hope. Each day is important. How we live matters and there is a way for us to live. Here we study every week another building block for our daily lives. We, together with the Father, are co-authors of the story and each day a new page is written. We never give up or lose hope. As we look at this Torah portion Ya’acov had not given up hope either. He believed the Covenant that G-d made with Avraham and even though its fulfillment would not be in his lifetime, he lived, he did not quit. He passed along this vision to all his children. He gathered them around his death bed and told them of the future and that future was not to end in Egypt as slaves. G-d had more for them than that. W must believe that whatever Egypt we find ourselves in it is not the end. G-d has more for us. Our challenge as believers today is to know what G-d’s plan for us is and rest in it. We are not to waste a day in moving in what the Father has for us. Our lives fit into G-d’s overall pan to bring reconciliation between Him and His creation. We fit into that plan but we are not the point of His overall plan. It is not all about us.
For example, I would like to talk for a moment about Joseph and the events of his life. Remember each event of his life led to him being at the right place at the right time. In chapter 41:46 scripture states that Joseph was 30 years old when he came before Pharaoh. If we add on the years of plenty and then part of the years of famine he would have been near 40 years old. Ya’acov lived 17 years in Egypt after he brought his family down. By this time Joseph would have been near 60 years old when his father died. Yet he was 110 when he died. The question is, why, knowing what he did, did Joseph stay in Egypt along with his brothers and all their families and possessions. Knowing what would be (Genesis 15:10-12) why did they stay. We know Joseph could hear from G-d. We must say that they did not leave because G-d’s plan was they stay, become slaves, stay for 400 years. (Genesis 15:13) and then leave with plunder from the Egyptians, and G-d would judge Egypt, the fear of the people and their G-d would be known to all the countries around. (Joshua 2:10-11)
My point being, G-d had a plan. Joseph’s job was to do his part even though he would not see the end. G-d’s plan overall is bigger than us. He desires us to do our part. That part may not be easy. It may involve suffering and pain but He is there with us even in the midst of it, loving us and crying with us. He has a place for each of us. We must find whose plan we are following. Is it His plan or ours? Are we seeking G-d’s plan for our lives? One brings life and the other death. Ya’acov and Yosef were faithful in doing their part. So must we be.