This week we read the final chapters of Genesis. Jacob is approaching the end of his life. We are told that he lived until the age of 147 and that he spent the last 17 years of his life in Egypt. Just before his death, he blesses his grandchildren, Ephraim and Menashe, and then blesses each of his sons.
This week’s portion begins with the most dramatic speech in the Bible — Judah’s plea to Joseph to save his brother Benjamin. “And Joseph could not restrain himself before all that stood by him . . . And he wept aloud . . . And Joseph said to his brothers, ‘I am Joseph, is my father still alive?'” (Genesis 45:1-3).
In this week’s Torah portion, we continue the story of Joseph in Egypt. The portion begins with Joseph’s rise to power, thanks to his interpretation of Pharaoh’s dream. He is given full responsibility for feeding the nation and, indeed surrounding nations, during the upcoming famine.
This week’s Torah portion begins with Jacob’s preparation for his confrontation with Esau. He has just returned from years in the home of his uncle Laban, he has four wives and 12 children, a great deal of sheep and other animals, but he remains concerned as to whether Esau is still intent on killing him.
This week’s Torah portion is dedicated to the sojourn of Jacob in the house of Laban. It begins with his departure from Beersheva (Genesis 28:10) and ends with his entrance into the Land of Israel at Machanayim (Genesis 32:3).
With this week’s Torah reading, we move on to the life of Isaac, the second patriarch of the Jewish people. The portion begins in Chapter 25 verse 19 and continues through Chapter 28 verse 9. Indeed, it is the only Torah reading that deals with Isaac as an independent adult.
This week’s Torah reading opens with the death of Sarah, the wife of Abraham, in Hebron (Genesis 23). Abraham mourns his wife and then immediately goes about the business of burying her.
God wanted one people to inherit His covenant with Abraham, one people to inherit the Land of Israel, one people to be His people, for eternity.
So begins this week’s Torah reading. And what a reading it is. If there was ever a “Zionist” Torah reading it’s this one. And each year, we are reminded that G-d chose Abraham out of all the people of the earth, and made him the father of our nation and the recipient of G-d’s promises for the Jewish people.
This week, we read the story of Noah and the flood. “And these are the descendants of Noah, Noah was a righteous man, innocent he was in his generations.” (Genesis 6:9) Many commentators have questioned the use of the word generations – why the plural and why the addition of the word at all?