Parshat Vayechi: December 18, 2021 – 14 Tevet 5782

Erev Shabbat

Friday, December 17

  • Candle lighting: 4:34 pm

Parshat Vayechi

Shabbat, December 18

  • Stone Chumash p. 268
  • 85 Psukim (verses)
  • Number of verses in the Book of Genesis: 1,534
  • Haftorah: Stone Chumash p. 1145 “Vayikrivu Yemei David”

Important Shabbat Times

  • Candle lighting: 4:32 pm
  • Vasikin (Sunrise): 7:07:59 am
  • Latest Morning Shma: 9:34 am
  • Earliest Mincha: 12:24 pm
  • Havdalah: 5:34 pm
  • Zoom Havdalah: 5:45 pm

Thoughts on the Parsha

Our Parsha continues where last week’s ends. Jacob is aged, and requests from Joseph that he be buried in Israel at the Ma’arat HaMachpeila, in Hebron. Joseph agrees. Joseph brings his sons, Menashe and Ephraim, before his father for a blessing. Jacob crosses his hands in order to place his right hand upon the younger brother, Ephraim despite Joseph’s protests. Jacob decrees that Joseph’s two sons will inherit the status of tribal leaders with the rest of the brothers.  Jacob calls in his sons for a final blessing. He blesses each and every son. Immediately afterward Jacob dies, and is mourned by all of Egypt for seventy days. Joseph and his brothers receive special permission to leave Egypt, and travel to Israel for the funeral. All the local kings and dignitaries attend and the family sits shiva for seven days. After returning to Egypt, Joseph’s brothers fear that Joseph will now vent his anger against him. Joseph assures them that he will treat them with honor, as this is G-d’s will. Joseph lives to the ripe old age of 110, and is embalmed and placed in a sarcophagus in Egypt.

This Week in Jewish History

  • Friday, 20 Tevet: The 817th Yahrtzeit of the RAMBAM or Maimonides, probably the most celebrated Rabbi in Jewish History!
  • Tuesday, 1515: The Jews of Ljubljana (Laibach), Slovenia are expelled.
  • Wednesday, 1488: The Sefer Hamitzvot Gedolot printed in Soncino, Italy.

Mitzvah of the Week

The second category of Muktza is called מוקצה מחמת מלאכתו לאיסור, or “muktza as a result of prohibited activity.” This means that any utensil or appliance which is normally used for an activity which would violate one of the 39 prohibited activities, may not be handled. Therefore, one may not touch a hammer, for example, as this is usually used for building, which is one of the 39 prohibited activities. One may not touch a pen or pencil, as this is used for writing, which is prohibited on Shabbat. One may not touch any electrical switch or appliance, as these invariably are used for activities on the prohibited list. Exceptions to the rule: If one requires the use of a forbidden utensil for a permitted activity, and cannot find a substitute, one may use the utensil. For example, one may use a hammer as a nutcracker, or a pair of scissors, to cut open a cooked chicken.

One of the benefits of observing the laws of Muktza is that it helps remove distractions! One is forced into behaviors that stimulate one’s mental capacities; reading, studying Torah, and the like. One will be more motivated to engage with his/her spouse, children and grand-children. Shabbat is not about inhibiting one’s freedom, but rather increasing one’s spiritual and intellectual capacities. Ultimately, Shabbat, when observed properly, bestows a sense of true spiritual tranquility on a person, and leads one to achieve perfect balance in life.

Shabbat Shalom!