Vayechi 5778

December 24, 2017

7 min read


Vayechi (Genesis 47:28-50:26 )

GOOD MORNING!  What is the value of a kindness? Perhaps the following story will give some insights!

Years ago I lived in Israel and worked at Aish headquarters in the Old City of Jerusalem. One time I am waiting behind a Volkswagen van at the stop sign before the Jerusalem-Jericho road. A big dump truck heading north wants to turn left to go towards the Dung Gate. However, there was not enough room for him to maneuver around the van at the stop sign.

What does the driver of the van do? He starts to back up. I blare on my horn and he keeps coming ... until he smashes the front of my car! The driver was an Arab transporting his fellow workers. We exchanged insurance information and I contacted my insurance agent, Shalom Goldman.

All was well until Shalom Goldman informs me that the driver of the van claims that I rear-ended him -- and that he has 7 witnesses! My agent advised that we invite the other agent and the van driver for a sulkha, a peace meeting, to discuss the incident. We met at my agent's office. Shalom served Turkish coffee, cookies and cake. When the refreshments were finished Shalom turns to the driver of the van and says, "You are our honored guest, therefore, you go first. Tell us what happened -- no one will interrupt you -- and I will take down every word, word for word."

The van driver began, "There was a dump truck that wanted to turn into the street, but he couldn't make it around me. So, I backed up my van to let him in and I hit the car behind me." HE FORGOT TO LIE! I couldn't believe it. Shalom Goldman was kicking me under the table to keep quiet. The other insurance agent looked at his client with his mouth wide-open and gave his client an angry look.

When it was my turn to speak I confirmed the facts. The driver then agreed to pay for the damages.

What lessons can we learn from this? If you are kind to someone, oftentimes they will respond to your kindness. Life is often life a mirror -- it reflects back to you what you project. There is a Proverb 25:21, "If your enemy is hungry, feed him bread; and if he is thirsty, give him water to drink." It is possible that even an enemy will be transformed if you are kind to him ... although, not always!

And what about the kindness of the Arab driver for the dump truck? What lesson can we learn from that? When you do a kindness, you have to make sure that you don't damage others in the process!

Writes Rabbi Zelig Pliskin in his book, Kindness -- Changing People's Lives for the Better, "Developing a love for kindness transforms your life as you transform the lives of others. Kindness is one of the pillars of the world. Every act of kindness elevates your character and makes you a kinder person. As you continue to increase your love for kindness, you increase the amount of joy in your life.

"There are minor acts of kindness and major acts of kindness. Every kind deed and word is precious and valuable. Every kind deed and word is eternal. And when your actions and words have a positive lifetime effect on someone, you have created something magnificent, whether or not the extent of its greatness is recognized by any other mortal.

"As you expand your consciousness of kindness, you create a more spiritual life. Your kindness and compassion for the Creator's children is an expression of your love for our Father, our King, Creator and Sustainer of the universe. With your kindness and compassion you emulate Him. As you help others, you create an inner light that illuminates your entire being.

"A master artist looks at an entirely different world than someone who lacks his vision. We can all train ourselves to see more deeply. When you see the world as a place in which to do kindness, you see a different world. You see a world full of spiritual opportunities wherever you are and wherever you go. Let this be your world."


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Torah Portion of the week

Vayechi, Genesis 47:28 - 50:26

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!

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Dvar Torah
based on Love Your Neighbor by Rabbi Zelig Pliskin

The Torah states:

"And the days of Israel (Jacob) drew near to die; and he called his son Joseph, and said to him: 'If now I have found favor in your eyes, please ... deal with me kindly and truly; bury me not in Egypt.' " (Genesis 47:29).

What does the phrase "kindly and truly" come to teach us?

Rashi enlightens us as to the meaning of "kindly and truly." Kindness which is shown to the dead is true kindness, for one who does chesed (kindness) for a dead person certainly does not look forward to any payment. When someone does something for another person so that the person will in turn do him favors, the action cannot be considered true kindness. Rather, it is a form of bartering in which the merchandise is not objects, but favors.

Rabbi Samson Raphael Hirsch explained the concept of truth in regards to kindness (chesed shel emes) in the following manner: "People often do kindness because of emotions, without considering whether the kindness is a true kindness. Kindness with truth, however, is a love that does not forget what is essential when practicing chesed.

"Jacob knew quite certainly that Joseph would bury him with all possible splendor. But he said, 'With all the chesed do not forget truth.' Yaakov stressed his request not to buried in Egypt. By this request was manifest that the homeland of the Jewish people is in Eretz Yisroel, the Land of Israel, although they had lived in Egypt 17 years."

Whenever we do an act of chesed for someone, we must make sure that it is spiritually beneficial as well as physically beneficial.


Candle Lighting Times

December 29
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Jerusalem 4:09
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Quote of the Week

Perhaps you will forget tomorrow
the kind words you say today,
but the recipient may
cherish them over a lifetime
--  Dale Carnegie



In Loving Memory of
Jerry Stern

Helen Stern

In Loving Memory of
Samuel N. Goldstein Shmuel b. Rachmiel Lieb

by Harold Goldstein



In Loving Memory of
Laura Weinsoff
With Special Thanks to
Dr. and Mrs.
Joseph A. Singer


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