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Vayechi: Truly Living

Vayechi: Truly Living


Editor's Note:

Dear Friend,

A quick thought on this week’s Torah portion:

Jacob lived his last 17 years in Egypt. The sages say that they were his best 17 years. (Tov, the Hebrew term for “good,” has the numerical value of 17.) Jacob was a spiritually refined person, who had spent years studying Torah in the Land of Israel (then still called Canaan), the holiest place on earth. Yet his best years were in Egypt, a land of decadence, idolatry and moral depravity. How could that be?

The old saying goes, “If life gives you lemons, make lemonade.” Jacob did not want to go to Egypt. But once he was there, he made the best of it. He sent his son, Judah, to establish a yeshivah where Torah would be studied, ensuring that his children and grandchildren would retain the beliefs and ways of Abraham. And Israel flourished.

When we truly want, even sour lemons can be a delicious thirst-quenching drink, and even Egypt can be good.

Enjoy your read!

The Editorial Team

The Human Story in Twelve Words

If we take the names of the twelve Torah sections (“Parshahs”) of the book of Genesis, and read them in succession as a sort of shorthand or code, we get a synoptic account of the human story.
Sight and Sound

The two aspects of seeing and hearing are potentially within each of us as levels of relationship with G‑d that we can develop through Torah study . . .
Above the Fray

To successfully escape from prison, you need someone on the outside pulling for you. Take it from Jacob, who wouldn’t be found dead in Egypt.
Vayechi in a Nutshell
Jacob blesses each of his sons before his passing. He is buried in the Cave of Machpelah in the Holy Land. Joseph dies at age 110 and asks his descendants to bury his remains in the Holy Land. This comes to pass only years later, upon the exodus from Egypt.
Why Jews Pray Three Times a Day

Jewish people have three daily prayer services. Does it make a difference if we view the order of the prayers as morning/afternoon/evening or as evening/morning/afternoon?
King Solomon

King Solomon, wisest of all men, succeeds his father as king at the young age of twelve. King Solomon builds the Temple in Jerusalem, and reigns over Israel in an age of exceptional prosperity and peace.
Make Believe

“He has such a high opinion of himself, and has assumed all sorts of pious customs and practices. But it’s all superficial: on the inside, his character is as coarse and unrefined as ever.”
Patience & Peace

In a remote village, a future rebbe learns an important lesson.
A Mutation of Identity

The fact that I belonged to two cultures and religions made me feel like something inside me was irreconcilable and wrong. This engendered a kind of existential shame. I felt like a driven leaf, without roots or branches . . .
Twinkies and Me

Growing up, my family wasn’t particularly religious, but there was one rule my mother enforced energetically: there was to be no pork in our Jewish home. And Twinkies back in the 1970s contained lard.
The Little Pill

I saw her smirk out of the corner of my eye. I tried to ignore it, but then she did it again. Finally, I asked her what she found so amusing.
Orange Mousse in Phyllo Baskets with Citrus Punchsietta

Impress your family and guests with this gourmet dessert.
The Rebbe
Can We Understand G‑d?

“It is only because in His Infinite kindness G‑d desired that some of His ways should be understood occasionally, that we get an insight now and again into the ways of G‑d.”
Current Events
Exploring the Roots of the Newtown Tragedy

Judaism recognizes not only the end result, but the process. We do not only mourn the actual destruction; we go to the source, we figure out how it began, when it began, and mourn that as well.
What Does Judaism Say About Gun Control?

Examining the gun control debate from the perspective of classic Judaic sources.
A Pioneer of Living American Judaism

Miriam Gordon's life coincided with the growth of Chabad-Lubavitch in America.
Question and Answer
Is Torah Juvenile?

As I learn and read, I am finding myself drifting away from the somewhat religious man I once was. Some things seem too obscure, others seem fake.
Why Do We Cover Our Eyes for Shema?

Closing our eyes enhances our concentration. The meaning of the Shema goes way beyond the belief in only one G‑d.
Artists' Corner
They translate it as “Let there be light.” But instead, read, “It should become light.”
A people is like a walled city, which needs a wall to surround it, with gates that open and close. In other words, we must protect what is best and most precious in ourselves against outside influences, and also be open to the world to give and receive, learn and teach
— The Rebbe
Print Magazine

G‑d is with me among my helpers.
—Psalms 118:7

Your best friends are those who are at your side in time of distress.

And why are they there? Because you are at their side at the time of their distress.

Sometimes your charitable donations are seriously threatened. You might be short on funds, or the market might be...