With Parasha Vayechi this week the book of Bereishit comes to a close. It describes the death of Jacob and that of Joseph. It is the recognition of and acceptance of mortality and an honest reflection on life. Some things we can change, and others require repair and acceptance. Joseph does not seek revenge after Jacob dies. Jacob accepts the sons of Joseph as his inheritors and to this day the blessing of sons on Friday night is:
יְשִֽׂמְךָ֣ אֱלֹהִ֔ים כְּאֶפְרַ֖יִם וְכִמְנַשֶּׁ֑ה
May God make you like Ephraim and like Manasseh
Jacob, who is 147 years old, speaks about “the end of days” after he considers the strengths and weaknesses of his children and the tribes. He sets out the future and how they will live. It is a review and a prediction.
Joseph dies in Egypt, at the age of 110. On his deathbed he says:
God will surely remember you and take you up out of this land to the land that He swore to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob.
We are about to begin our time in Egypt. There is a pattern that immigrant groups quite often follow the habit of wilful forgetfulness in the first generation. It is as if they wish to blot out the past. It is the succeeding generations that seek answers and memories.
Over the centuries we, as Jews, have had many predictions; sometimes of hope and often of doom. But we have survived. Now in tumultuous times, we need to remember that, to quote the “Back to the Future” films: The future is still to be written.