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    Under the same umbrella – Vayyechi

    Jacob’s death-bed assembly of his children was cross-generational, according to Rashbam’s commentary. The patriarch summoned not only his children but his grandchildren and great-grandchildren.

    The Midrash points out that no-one was left out, and Jacob called upon them all to assemble and gather together, not as separate individuals who were riven by divisions and conflicts, but as one family bound up with each other.

    They all had their own personalities, their own ideas and ideals, their own tribal leadership and institutions, but they were all part of one overarching family and had to act correspondingly.

    A British chief rabbi, Sir Israel Brodie of blessed memory, used to speak of the Jewish people being together under the same broad umbrella. Each group had its subculture of customs and opinions but all felt bound up with one another and should never allow themselves to descend into intergroup warfare or mutual condemnation.

    The High Holyday prayer book tells God that in the last analysis we are agudah achat la’asot retzon’cha b’levav shalem, “one band committed to fulfilling the Divine Will with a united heart”.

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