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    The last & the lost? – Vayyiggash

    Many years have passed since Jacob and Joseph saw each other last. A lengthy period has separated them.

    Finally comes the news that Jacob hardly dreamed of hearing, Od Yosef chai – “Joseph is still alive”.

    The question is what Jacob means by the word “alive”.

    In a physical sense it obviously indicates that Joseph is not dead. He walks, he stands, he speaks. More than this, he has a high position in the Egyptian government and has made a success of his life.

    But there is another dimension to Jacob’s joy. The old father rejoices because Joseph is alive – as a Jew.

    He has not dropped his Jewish practices. He has not abandoned his Jewish beliefs. Nothing has succeeded in making a pagan out of him. He remains part of Jewish destiny.

    When you read the story you want to weep for Jacob. This is true Jewish joy. But you also know that it could easily have gone the other way. Egyptian civilisation was alluring and tempting but Joseph found the strength to resist and remain himself.

    It all happened of course in ancient history, but it is a question for every generation, our generation too.

    Shall we all, you and I, be blessed to echo the words of Jacob – or are we scared that we will be the last Jewish generation and our children the lost generation?

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