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    His last wish – Vayyechi

    Jacob blesses his sons on his deathbed (Figures de la Bible, 1728)

    Jacob blesses his sons on his deathbed (Figures de la Bible, 1728)

    Jacob dwelt in Egypt seventeen years. A turbulent life was reaching its sunset. Aggravation was behind him. He settled down to a quiet retirement. Joseph and the family were there to care for him.

    But one thing was constantly on his mind – what would befall them all after he was gone?

    The rabbis acknowledge this worry in the Midrash about how the Shema Yisra’el came into being.

    Obsessed with the fear that his children and grandchildren might drift from or abandon the beliefs and ethical values that he stood for, Jacob wept and wondered. That’s why his family tried to reassure him.

    Shema Yisra’el! they said, “Listen, Israel (the alternative name for Jacob)! Listen, HaShem Elokenu HaShem EchadHaShem is our God, the One, Unique HaShem!”

    Their hearts were in the right place, their faith was intact, their lives were committed to the Almighty.

    Whatever happened to the family, whatever befell their existence in Egypt and their hope of one day returning to Eretz Yisra’el, Jacob could die with a smile on his lips.

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