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    Beginning of the end – Vayyechi

    Jacob on his deathbed, by Adam van Noort, c. 17th century

    Jacob is on his death bed. He says to his family, “Gather round and I will reveal to you what will befall you in time to come” (Gen. 49:1).

    There is a well-known commentary that says that the Divine Presence departed and Jacob found himself unable to reveal the future (Pesachim 56a).

    But when you read Chapter 49 of B’reshit you see that he did tell the family about the future, analysing each person and summing up what they would make of their life! The rabbis don’t seem to notice this.

    Perhaps the explanation is that each member of the family would build his or her own future as an individual. When Jacob spoke to each one he told them what aspect of their character they would be advised to use in this task.

    What he did not tell them was the national future, which depended on the sum total of all their individual efforts… and on God.

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