Parashat VaYechi

Bring them to me, please, that I may bless them. Gen 48:9

The portion begins with Jacob blessing Joseph and his grandsons, then the rest of his own sons. When Joseph brought his sons Menashe and Ephraim to Jacob, he positioned them so that Jacobs right hand would fall upon Menashe, the elder and his left hand on Ephraim the younger. But Jacob, who we are told had poor vision (like his father Isaac), crossed his hands and put his right hand on Ephraim and his left on Menashe. Joseph was displeased by the act and tried to correct his aged father.

And Joseph said to his father, “Not this way, my father; since this one is the firstborn, put your right hand on his head. Gen 48:18

Sometimes when I am interacting with my parents and others of their generation, it is frustrating to keep explaining things to them over and over. “Double click” or “scroll down” when helping them on the computer. Or when helping them with bureaucracy like the bank or taxes. I often don’t have patience with them and just tell them to sign. I don’t bother reading it to them or explaining what they are signing… because I know better.

Joseph is very worried, after all, Jacob got in trouble over stealing birthright and blessings from Esau. Joseph himself had a world of trouble because of his position among his brothers. He is legitimately worried to pass down this “generational curse” of troubles to his own children.

But his father refused and said, “I know, my son, I know. Gen 48:19

Jacob responded saying “Relax son, everything will be ok, I know what I am doing”. And goes on to prophetically explain that while Menashe will grow to be a great nation, Ephraim will become even greater. This eventually came true as the ten tribes left the united rule by the king of Judah and instead were led by kings from the tribe of Ephraim. We don’t get an explanation for Jacob’s actions just a reply that he is making a conscious decision and not a mistake.

While our elders might seem clumsy and confused and be slow learners when new technology is involved, we must remember that often they know exactly what they are doing when they resist our “instructions”.  After all, it was our parents who taught us how to use a spoon…

It’s surprising to me that even after Joseph’s miraculous life, he is still worried about passing down this “curse”. The course of his life was so clearly guided by G-d, with many strange and unexpected turns. All in order to save his family, the people of Egypt and to eventually bring salvation to the world.

Was it really a curse or was it G-d’s plan that Jacob and Joseph played a part in?

We are able to look back thousands of years and through the pages of history see the answer to that question. We see the fulfillment of G-ds plans through Jacob, Joseph and the rest of their family. Moreover, we see the fulfillment of the ancient biblical prophecies throughout the ages and even in our lives today.

We face a similar question to the one Joseph faced. Will our lives be part of G-d’s plan? Will we let G-d use us to affect change in the world? Do we trust that G-d knows what he is doing?

But the plans of the Lord stand firm forever,

the purposes of his heart through all generations.

Blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord,

the people he chose for his inheritance.

Psalm 33:11-12


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