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Monday, Tevet 9, 5783 (Hakhel Year) / January 2, 2023


This week’s Parsha, Vayechi, is the final Parsha in the first Book of the Torah - Breishis (Genesis).


In this Parsha we read that Yaakov (Jacob) lived his final seventeen years of his life in Egypt. We read about Yaakov’s blessings to his children before his passing and how, after his passing, his children brought him back to Canaan to be buried in the family burial plot in Hebron.


Yaakov, who was the third patriarch, lived the shortest. His grandfather, Abraham, lived 175 years; His father, Yitzchak, lived to be 180. Yaakov lived 147 years.


According to our sages Abraham and Yaakov should also have lived to 180.  However, G-d shortened Abraham's life by five years to spare him the pain of seeing his grandson, Esau's evil behavior.


Q.Why did Yaakov lose 33 years of his life?  Our sages explain the reason as follows: 


A. When Yaakov came to Egypt and Pharaoh asked him his age, he replied, "The days of the years of my life are a hundred and thirty years; few and bad have been the days of my life and they have not attained the days of the years of the life of my fathers" (Gen. 47:9). 


The verse in which Yaakov complains about his bad lot and misfortune in life contains 33 Hebrew words. As a result of complaining and not accepting his lot in life, which G-d chose for him, his life was shortened by 33 years.


But, unlike Abraham and Isaac, about whom the Torah says that they died, the Torah doesn't use the word died” to describe Yaakov's passing.  As a result, our sages say, "Yaakov did not die!"


This is further emphasized by the name of the Parsha. Even though it details Yaakov's passing, the Parsha is called "Vayechi Yaakov" which means "Yaakov lived!"


How is Yaakov different than his forefathers that the Torah doesn’t use the term died with Jacob? The Talmud explains it as follows: Abraham's son Ishmael and his descendants departed from Abraham's ways. Similarly, Isaac’s son Esau and his descendants strayed from their father’s ways. Yaakov was the only one of the patriarchs whose children all followed in their father's tradition. As a result, "Yaakov didn't die, for through his children, who continue in his ways, he too lives on."


Life doesn’t stop with one’s passing. Since Yaakov’s children, grandchildren, and great grandchildren – the Jewish people until this very day, continue in his footsteps, he too, is forever considered alive.


Through continuing our Jewish traditions and way of life, we too, keep our parents and grandparents alive. Each of us is a link in the continuation of the golden chain of our beautiful Jewish heritage. It is up to each of us to make sure it continues on forever.