Shabbat Parashat VaYechi
January 14, 2017 – 16 Tevet 5777
These days many of us are focused on the future. What next? One farewell address follows another. And, as we realize that a new leaf is being turned over, we look back and we look forward. We may not agree on how to interpret the events of the past, but we can point to things that have happened and we can do our best to understand them. But, the future is, as yet, undefined. So we imagine. And, we look toward the future with an array of feelings: with worry, and/or with joy; with anxiety, and/or with curiosity, and more….
In our weekly Torah portion, VaYechi [And he lived…], we read of the end of Jacob’s life. The Torah records Jacob’s “farewell address” to his children and grandchildren. Midrash tells us that before he died, Jacob had a divinely inspired vision of the future. And, he wanted to communicate that vision to his children. But, when it came time for him to speak, the vision eluded him. So, Jacob spoke of the past, from his perspective, and gave his advice, as best he could. Even Jacob, who had a heavenly vision of the future for a split second, was not able to tell his children what the future would hold. He could only imagine….
So, we are in very good company as we do our best to evaluate the past and to look toward the future. One thing we can learn from current farewell addresses and from our Biblical farewell addresses is that, despite differing styles and differing temperaments, when we sense that a new chapter is about to begin, we often seem to consider the “children”, the “youth”, and the coming generation/s.
So, when we ask ourselves: What’s Next? I invite us to think, not only about global and about national issues, but also about our own wonderful congregation and about our very special community.
When we ask ourselves: What’s Next? Let us imagine that the best is yet to come. And, let us imagine how we might best work together, to create a continued positive and deeply Jewish experience, for ourselves, and for generations to come!
Rabbi Gilah Dror
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