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Vayechi 5772

Vayechi (Genesis 47:28-50:26 )

by Kalman Packouz

GOOD MORNING! Are you a success in life? An Aish teacher (a real estate lawyer by day) was stuck in traffic with the zillionaire tycoon who headed his firm. He asked his boss to critique a class he was giving that night on how one measures success.

After all the stories and examples, the class boiled down to three points: 1) Define success 2) Analyze your life to see how it measures up 3) Make a plan to be successful.

The next day the real estate tycoon comes into the lawyer's office and asks if they can talk. The man relates that he decided to try the exercise. He defined success as "Enough wealth to have whatever I wanted." "I examined my life, listed the cars, the houses, the plane and concluded that I was a success. Then I wadded up the paper, aimed at the waste basket ... and saw the picture of my daughter and stopped. It hit me hard -- how can I say I am a success? I don't have everything I want. I don't have a relationship my daughter! I have been too busy making deals and acquiring possessions to spend time with her."

The tycoon continues, "I moved on to point 3 and decided that the only way to have a relationship was to spend time with her. I immediately called her up. She was surprised to hear from me and asked if everything was OK. I assured her that it was. Then I asked her if she had any plans that weekend because I wanted to fly in to spend time with her. She responded, 'Are you and Mommy getting a divorce?' I assured her that all was good between her mother and me and that I just wanted to enjoy her company. I came in here to thank you."

Another Aish teacher, Marc Firestone (a successful insurance man by day) also recently gave a class on success (it must be that time of year...). After covering the 3 basics points above, he shares the secret to living a Jewishly successful life -- juggling 5 "balls". All of the balls are to bring one closer to the Almighty. Each one requires attention and must be kept in the air. Ignore a ball, things will get out of balance and you might lose control. Each ball must be moved with small, baby steps towards the ultimate goal. Any effort that is not simple and doable will not last; large undertakings will likely get dropped -- and that's not good for the juggler!


1) Body -- eat well, sleep well, exercise ... and get an annual physical. You can't do much with your life if your body isn't well. Rambam said this 1000 years ago. Take a small step for growth and improvement -- walk 20 minutes a day -- or park farther away and walk ... or take the stairs instead of the elevator.

2) Soul -- Rabbi Noah Weinberg taught, "The body gets hungry to teach you that the soul also gets hungry." The soul needs feeding. This includes Torah learning. A Jewish male is supposed to be learning Torah every morning and evening -- even 5 minutes in the morning and 5 minutes in the evening. One needs thinking time, contemplation time. If you're too busy, the soul never gets spoken to. You need to schedule it. Jewish tradition is to do a daily accounting before going to sleep. Ask yourself, "What am I living for? What did I do towards my goal today? What did I do counter to my goal? What's a more important goal to live for?"

3) Family and Friends -- need real attention. You can't just call a friend on his birthday. Call your mother and father! Mothers like to be called even if you have nothing to say. Just call. Ask what's going on? What do dads enjoy? To give advice. It makes them feel important and respected. Your father has experience and knowledge --ask him for his advice and benefit from it.

4) Career -- Business needs attention. If you are an employee or employer, how can you be better at business? This one ball could take 50+ hours per week, but then you'd be neglecting the other areas of your life. And then you won't be successful. You can't depend on a miracle in business.

5) World Repair -- In Hebrew, Tikun Olom which means taking personal responsibility for the world. In Pirke Avos 2:6 we are taught, "Where there are no men, be a man." If you look out and there's something not getting done, do it! Take on small things like visiting the sick or helping a neighbor and then more small things. If you're not doing something meaningful beyond yourself, you're not going to feel successful.

Life needs a goal and a plan. If you don't know where you are going, any road will take you there...


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Torah Portion of the Week

The parasha, Torah portion, opens with Jacob on his deathbed 17 years after arriving in Egypt. Jacob blesses Joseph's two sons, Manasseh (Menashe) and Ephraim (to this day it is a tradition to bless our sons every Shabbat evening with the blessing, "May the Almighty make you like Ephraim and Manasseh" -- they grew up in the Diaspora amongst foreign influences and still remained devoted to the Torah. The Shabbat evening blessing for girls is "to be like Sarah, Rivka, Rachel and Leah.") He then individually blesses each of his sons. The blessings are prophetic and give reproof, where necessary.

A large retinue from Pharaoh's court accompanies the family to Hebron to bury Jacob in the Ma'arat Hamachpela, the burial cave purchased by Abraham. The Torah portion ends with the death of Joseph and his binding the Israelites to bring his remains with them for burial when they are redeemed from slavery and go to the land of Israel. Thus ends the book of Genesis!

* * *

Dvar Torah
based on Growth Through Torah by Rabbi Zelig Pliskin

Before Jacob's death, the Torah tells us:

"And Ya'akov (Jacob) called to his sons, and he said, 'Gather together and I will tell you what will befall you in the end of days' " (when the Jewish people will be redeemed from galus, exile) (Genesis 49:1).

What did Ya'akov mean when he used the phrase "Gather together"?

When Ya'akov told his sons to gather together he meant that they should have achdus, unity amongst themselves. Only when there is unity among the descendants of Ya'akov can there be redemption. If there is not yet unity, it is not yet time for redemption.

With this we can understand what Yosef's brothers meant when they said to him later on (Genesis 50:16-7) that before Ya'akov's death he requested that Yosef forgive them. Nowhere in the Torah is it recorded that Ya'akov asked Yosef to forgive his brothers. However, the commentary of the Shaloh tells us that the answer can be seen in our verse where Ya'akov asks the brothers to "Gather together". Ya'akov was asking all of them, including Yosef, for unity and the deep love that comes from unity. Where there is love, there is forgiveness.

This is a crucial issue for our time. People are very different from one another in many ways. However, if all the descendants of Ya'akov realize how important it is to have achdus, this unity will bring about a love that transcends the specific complaints one person has against another.



Spitting on someone is despicable and diametrically opposed to Judaism. This creates a massive desecration of God's name, where uninformed Jews and non-Jews around the world mistakenly believe media distortions that you, the spitter, somehow represent religious Jews in Israel. The Torah's way is to "love your fellow man" and not to erect barriers of hate and intolerance. (for the full article "Open Letter to the Beit Shemesh Spitter" go to:


(or go to

Jerusalem 4:10
Guatemala 5:29 - Hong Kong 5:36 - Honolulu 5:46
J'Burg 6:46 - London 3:50 - Los Angeles 4:40
Melbourne 8:28 - Mexico City 5:54 - Miami 5:28
New York 4:25 - Singapore 6:54 - Toronto 4:38


If so little in life is accomplished,
it is because so little in life is undertaken


In Loving Memory of
My Beloved Husband

Edwin Dubov

--  Toby Dubov


Happy Anniversary

Marc Singer
Helena Igra


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