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  • Writer's pictureLeann Shamash

And He Lived -Parshat Va'Yechi

Updated: Dec 30, 2020

The book of Genesis concludes with Parshat Va'yechi. While the bulk of this Parsha focuses on the death and burial of Jacob as well as the memorable final blessings for Jacob's progeny, the first word of the parsha is V'Yechi, which translates as "and he lived."

What does it mean "And he lived?"

Perhaps it means that while Jacob spent his last years near all of his children his life was different and lived more heartily. For now though, I would like to focus on the act of living and what we can learn about living our lives from the book of Genesis.

In Genesis our foundational story is recorded. We become familiar with the idea of covenant and promises. The book is full of stories about the earth, God, our foremothers and forefathers, extended family and tribesmen, countrymen, foreigners and leaders. We learn from them, both from their simple acts of goodness, but also from their mistakes. As we transition into the Exodus narrative and our story as a nation unfolds, let's pause and reflect upon the wisdom gained from Genesis.


And you shall live

And you shall grow

And you shall prosper

And multiply as the stars in the sky

And you shall choose love over hate

Creation over destruction

Rainbows over floods

Light over darkness

Kindness over cruelty

You shall balance

work and rest

Pride and humility

Self reliance and assistance

And zealously guard over the earth

And you shall choose truth over lies

And peace over war

And agreement over discord

And communication over silence

And honesty over insincerity

And cooperation over division

And you shall guard your words

And choose them with care

And respect God

Embrace change

And expect the unexpected

And you shall choose civility over violence

And humbleness over arrogance

And gratitude over selfishness

And hospitality over aloofness

And you shall know the power of community

And the power that is prayer

And there is room for belief, even when there is doubt

And that our word is the glue that binds

And you shall choose compassion over cruelty

And patience over intolerance

And hard work over idleness

And preparedness over procrastination

And you shall know that all of us dream

And some dreams come true

And some dreams are woven into the fabric of history

And others are forgotten

And you shall know that there is no place like home

And family is our foundation

And land is more than the ground under our feet

And the power to return exists

And change can happen at any moment

But covenant lasts forever

And the power of love triumphs over death

Genesis 47:28. (Translation from Sefaria)

וַיְחִ֤י יַעֲקֹב֙ בְּאֶ֣רֶץ מִצְרַ֔יִם שְׁבַ֥ע עֶשְׂרֵ֖ה שָׁנָ֑ה וַיְהִ֤י יְמֵֽי־יַעֲקֹב֙ שְׁנֵ֣י חַיָּ֔יו שֶׁ֣בַע שָׁנִ֔ים וְאַרְבָּעִ֥ים וּמְאַ֖ת שָׁנָֽה׃

Jacob lived seventeen years in the land of Egypt, so that the span of Jacob’s life came to one hundred and forty-seven years.

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