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Parshat Vayechi

Dear STOCS Friend:


The closing chapter of the Book of Genesis will be read this Shabbat. It relates the death of Yaakov, Yosef and his eleven brothers. Yet, the Parsha is entitled Vayechi Life. Seems contradictory? Absolutely! What is the takeaway of a parsha called Life yet deals with death?

During this period many watch the movie, It is a Wonderful Life! Is that what our existence on this planet is all about; wonderful, spectacular, thrilling or amazing?


I would describe life experience as meaningful. If the life we live is of useful quality or purpose, then it is meaningful. Sitting in front of a computer screen for hours, skiing, or sitting in orchestra seats is considered meaningful. How does Judaism perceive a meaningful existence?

According to a 2021 Pew Research Poll, the depth of one’s involvement in a shul translates into a more meaningful Jewish experience. To take this one step further I would like to share an idea I heard on a podcast from Aleph Beta. Too many see the Chumash as a book of obligations. Instead, see the Chumash as a book with 613 types of inducements.

Each one of the mitzvot is meant for the Jew to bring him\herself closer to the Master of the Universe. When faced with a mitzva see it as a stimulus to achieve a greater level of דביקות השם Closeness to God. In the Book, The Rav Speaks, Rabbi Soloveitchik writes, “Not only does man belong to the Creator of the universe. God also belongs to man. He, so to speak, is the possession of man.”

The Prophet Isaish says, דִּרְשׁוּ יְקֹוָק בְּהִמָּצְאוֹ קְרָאֻהוּ בִּהְיוֹתוֹ קָרוֹב “Search for Hashem when He is close, Call Him when He is near.” In other words, take advantage of the opportunity a mitzvah affords us. This in itself should be a motivation to come closer to Hashem.

Yaacov and his twelve sons cherished the prospect of fulfilling a mitzvah. Therefore, due to the meaningful lives they lived, even in death, they remained spiritually alive and vibrant.

I wish you a good Shabbas and hope to see you in Shul.


Rabbi Shore

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