Past Weekly Shabbat Message
Jewish Heritage
Rabbi Dovid Saks
(Torah Portion Vayechi) Executive Order!

The story is told of a man who died leaving over a large estate without writing a will. His three sons began the process of trying to figure out what their father's intentions were concerning who should receive what.

After a few days one of the sons tells his brothers, "Father came to me in a dream last night telling me that I am the executor of the estate and entrusting me to decide how to distribute his holdings and possessions." His brothers immediately turned to him and said, "If this was really Dad's wish shouldn't he have come to us to tell us that you are in charge?"

One thing is certain, the Jewish people know the process how we became a people and a nation.

The Torah relates that our forefather Avraham passed the tradition and destiny to his son Yitzchok, and Yitzchok conferred it to his son Yaacov. They, along with our matriarchs, established the foundation of our beliefs and roots.

 Yaacov had twelve sons and bequeathed the link of the destiny of the Jewish nation to all of them. The Torah relates that prior to Yaacov's death he called in his children giving each one a blessing and a charge how to focus their unique talents and strengths. This would ensure that there would be a harmonious blend in the mission of the Jewish people.

The family of Yaacov can be compared to a musical symphony. Each instrument has its unique sound, function and part, but when each of the musicians follow the notes and tune created by the conductor, the symmetry of the sounds and chords that emanate merge into something magnificent, brilliant and pleasing.

For example, Levi was destined to do the Temple service, the monarchy emerged from Yehudah, the tribe of Dan were exceptional warriors, Yisachar was devoted to Torah study while being supported by the tribe of Zevulon who were businessmen, Shimon produced teachers, and the Holy Temple and Altar stood in Binyamin's allotted land in Israel.

Each tribe had a symbol which described the mission which Yaacov set forth for them. A few were described by the nature of animals. For example, Napftali was compared to a swift female deer, thus, Naftali is associated with swiftness, and his services were actually employed in an incident related in this Parsha.

The Torah tells us that before Yaacov passed away, he made his son Yosef promise to make sure that he would be buried in Israel - in the Machpaila cave where his wife Leah and ancestors were buried. It wasn't so simple for Yosef to pull this off, for the Pharoh and the Egyptians viewed Yaacov's presence, even after he died, as a blessing, since when he arrived in Egypt the famine ended. Still, Yosef was cleverly able to convince the Pharoh to give permission for Yaacov to be buried in Israel and for Yaacov's family to escort him to Israel.

On the way, the inborn hatred of the nations towards us raised its ugly head. The Talmud tells us that the leaders of the Cannanintes, Edom and Yishmael came forth intending to attack Yaacov's family and prevent Yaacov's burial, but at the last moment, when they saw the beautiful entourage and honor displayed for Yaacov, they had a change of heart.

Even when they finally made it to the Machpaila cave in the city of Chevron in Israel they were met with resistance. Yaacov's hateful brother Aisav showed up and tried stopping Yaacov from being buried. Aisav claimed, "I am the one entitled to be buried here!"

Now, Yaacov had anticipated that this might happen, and years before, when the two brothers met, Yaacov placed a mound of coins before Aisav and offered it to him in exchange for burial rights in the Machpaila cave. Aisav chose the money and signed a document of sale.

Although Yaacov dearly held on to this bill of sale, his children forgot to bring it along with them. With no choice, they turned to the swift Naphtali and dispatched him back to Egypt to retrieve the papers and settle the dispute.

Although our history, mandate, entitlement and special connection to G-d and the land of Israel is clearly spelled out in our Torah, we have been subject to denial and animosity from the earliest stages of our existence.

A Jew is always inspired to have hope! We believe that there will be a time when all will recognize our unique relationship with G-d and our rights to the Land of Israel. This will be when the Moshiach will arrive and the last verse that we recite/chant of the Alyainu prayer will be fulfilled, "Hashem - G-d will be King over all the world - on that day Hashem will be One and His Name will be One!"
An idyllic time which we anticipate!

Wishing you a most enjoyable & uplifting Shabbos, Rabbi Dovid Saks