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    Giving a last chance – Vayyechi

    Jacob on his deathbed, by Adam van Noort, c. 17th century

    Jacob on his deathbed, by Adam van Noort, c. 17th century

    As B’reshit draws to a close, so does the life of Jacob.

    147 eventful years of agony and ecstasy are almost over. The old man is on his death bed. Around him his children are gathered. Within minutes the curtain will fall. The pathos of the moment is unbearable.

    In one respect, though, Jacob is fortunate in his sunset. His body is weakening, but his mind is clear. He knows what is going on, he can think clearly, and he not only has things he wants to say but he is able to say them.

    He ranges across his family, and succinctly and shrewdly sums up each one of them, their virtues, their faults, their future. There is no whitewashing or pretence. If he does not speak now, there will be no other chance.

    Millennia later, we have learned how to control pain, but we usually die under sedation. Physical suffering is lessened in this way, but the things that need to be said never have the opportunity of being expressed.

    It is a blessing to be able to pass away without pain, but there is a price to pay.

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