As he learns that Ya’akov is ill, Yosef rushes to his father’s bedside, bringing along his sons Menashe and Ephraim. When Yosef arrives, Ya’akov sits up in bed and launches into a rather long speech, especially considering that he is apparently gravely ill. Here is that speech in its entirety:
“El Shaddai appeared to me at Luz in the land of Canaan, and He blessed me, and said to me, ‘I will make you fertile and numerous, making of you a community of peoples; and I will assign this land to your offspring to come for an everlasting possession.’ Now, your two sons, who were born to you in the land of Egypt before I came to you in Egypt, shall be mine; Ephraim and Menashe shall be mine no less than Reuven and Shimon. But progeny born to you after them shall be yours; they shall be recorded instead of their brothers in their inheritance. I [do this because], when I was returning from Paddan, Rachel died, to my sorrow, while I was journeying in the land of Canaan, when still some distance short of Efrat; and I buried her there on the road to Efrat” (Genesis 48:3-7).
This is an extraordinary speech under the circumstances. What is going on in Ya’akov’s mind here? He is not telling his entire life story, but he has chosen a few crucial details. What are those details, and why is he choosing to emphasize them at this juncture in his life?
On Shabbat morning, we will look carefully at this speech, and what it can teach us about legacy–not just Ya’akov’s, but our own.
Wishing you a Shabbat Shalom,
Rabbi David Wise