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Vayechi (And He [Jacob] Lived) – Genesis 47:28 – 50:26

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.

VaYigash (And He (Judah) Approached) – Genesis 44:18 – 47:27

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).

Miketz (The End) – Genesis 41:1 – 44:17

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.

Vayishlach (And He (Jacob) Sent) – Genesis 32:4 – 36:43

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.

Toldot (Descendants) – Genesis 25:19 – 28:9

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.

Ki Tavo (When You Will Come) – Deuteronomy 26:1 – 29:8

There is a common joke among Jews that summarizes all of our Jewish holidays in one sentence: They tried to kill us, G-d saved us, let’s eat. It doesn’t quite apply to every holiday, but certainly Passover, Purim and Hanukkah fit the bill. And the statement certainly tells us a great deal about Jewish culture.

Shoftim (Judges) – Deuteronomy 16:18 – 21:9

These verses set forth guidelines to be followed by the kings of Israel, to ensure their righteousness and the absence of corruption in their kingdoms. Although, we no longer have kings, our political leaders would do well to follow these rules.