We conclude our yearly reading of the Book of Genesis with the parashah named Vayechi (Meaning: “He lived”). Just as in the case of the section called “Chayei-Sarah (Sarah’s Life) that tells of Sarah’s death, so too does this week’s parashah ironically called “He lived” speaks about Jacob’s death.
You will find this portion in Genesis chapter 47:28 – 50:24. The section is a summary of the Joseph stories, and also in a some sense, it functions as a summary of for the entire Book of Genesis.
Called “Vayechi” meaning “he lived” the parashah deals with Jacob’s death, the blessings of his (Jacob’s) sons and grandson’s (Joseph’s sons), the mourning period for Jacob, the reconciliation between Joseph and his brothers, and finally the death of Joseph.”
Genesis ends as it began. It is a book of wanderings. From Adam and Eve’s expulsion from Eden through Abraham’s journey to the land of Israel to Joseph’s death in a foreign land, the theme of wandering, both physical and psychological, is an ever-present constant. Genesis’ often unstated but always present, leitmotif is: how do we find order in a chaotic world?
Genesis is a realistic book open to a myriad of interpretations. One possible interpretation of the book is the notion that to live creatively is to realize, that life is a dynamic process always pushing us ahead.
This first book of Hebrew Scripture teaches us that for actions produce reactions, and to be alive is to struggle and to grow. Life’s successes come from our desire to push forward, never to be satisfied with our accomplishments but rather always to strive for more. Truly to be alive is to do no less.
Genesis argues that creation and creativity come from the depths of “tohu va’vohu” (total chaos). The book suggests that one way to understand the force that is G’d is by understanding the divine principle of: “reverse entropy.” Genesis teaches us that G-d is able to take the chaos that is life and create order from it.
The book then ends with the same question that it began: Are we so satisfied with our lot that we are afraid to move forward? How do we take the chaos out of our lives and turn that chaos into creative order? What do you do?
Youtubes of the week:
Jewish life in Brazil: Three Videos about the history of Jewish life in Brazil.