In Parshat Vayechi, Yaakov knows that he is going to die soon. His time in this world is coming to an end and he wants to bless his children before he loses the chance. Before blessing his children, it says “הִקָּֽבְצ֥וּ וְשִׁמְע֖וּ בְּנֵ֣י יַֽעֲקֹ֑ב וְשִׁמְע֖וּ אֶל־יִשְׂרָאֵ֥ל אֲבִיכֶֽם, gather around and listen sons of Yaakov, and listen to Yisrael your father.” It says in two different ways that we should listen to Yaakov’s blessings. Maybe it is said that way to emphasize paying attention to the blessings but I think it must be showing more. Why does it first say listen to the sons of Yaakov and then say listen to Yisrael your father?
Some of the commentaries come to tell us that when the Torah says Yaakov, it is speaking about him as an individual. However, when it says Yisrael it is talking about the nation as a whole. From this, I infer that Yaakov is speaking not just to his sons who he is blessing. The pasuk says to listen to the sons of Yaakov to show how the brothers needed to pay attention to the blessings but, the second time when it says to listen to your father, Yisrael, it is different. This second time is towards us, nowadays, the generations who are learning and reading the Torah. The Torah is talking directly to us and saying that we are children of Yaakov as well and we must listen to these blessings that were also given to us.
Similarly, a second answer I would like to suggest is that just like one name of Yaakov is understood on an individual level and another is on a national level, so too is this phrasing in the pasuk. The first time that his children, and we, are told to listen is for the individual. We need to take this blessing, personally, and use it to make us stronger and better people. However, we also need to listen to it and think about how this blessing can help us as a Jewish nation. We have the ability to take each of our individual blessings, put them together and transform them into one all-encompassing blessing for us as a Jewish nation. May we have an abundance of good blessings in our lives!
By Shira Sedek