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    Mighty blessings – Vayyechi

    Jacob the patriarch gives a personal message to each of his children, summing up their character and hinting at their future.

    As we would expect, Joseph receives the most extensive blessing. This is why Jacob uses the singular when, speaking to Joseph, he refers to himself as “thy father”. He says, “The blessings of thy father are mighty beyond the blessings of my progenitors… They shall be on the head of Joseph (Gen. 49:26).

    In case we thought Jacob is saying that blessings bestowed by him upon his children are more valuable than those bestowed by Abraham and Isaac, Rashi explains that “the blessings of thy father” mean “the blessings thy father has received”.

    Abraham, says Rashi, was merely promised the land of Israel (Gen. 13:15). Isaac was promised a broader territory, “all these lands” (Gen. 26:3). Jacob himself was told, “You shall spread abroad to the west, the east, the north and the south” (Gen. 28:14), i.e. all four corners of the earth.

    The word translated “spread abroad” is ufaratzta, which can be understood spiritually and culturally, in the sense of conveying a message wherever one goes.

    Thus Hermann Adler wrote that the Jew, the descendant of Jacob, “has gone up and down the earth proclaiming his belief in the One Supreme Being – a Being whose spirit fills all time and all space, a Being never embodied, but made manifest to man in the glory of the creation and in His all-wise behests, which teach mercy, love, and justice…”.

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