July 23, 2024
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Shabbos Vayechi and Its Importance to Us

Yaakov Avinu tells his beloved son Yosef, “I had not expected to ever see your face again, and Hashem has given me the privilege of seeing your children as well!”

Yaakov realized the transient nature of this world, and appreciated everything he was privileged to experience.

This world is a short-term, transitory existence.

This reality, unfortunately, has been enforced by the events of the last two months.

So many young people who had their entire futures in front of them had their earthly lives terminated and destroyed in the most shocking and unimaginable ways.

The reaction of the Jewish people was immediate and singular in purpose.

Suddenly, petty differences became irrelevant, and the reality that “much more unites us than separates us” set in.

Yet, on a personal level, there is another lesson we can not allow to fall between the cracks.

Recognition of the transitory nature of this world, Olam Hazeh — and the eternity of Olam Habah — must not be forgotten.

We must realize, as Yaakov Avinu realized, that our essential existence is in the Next World.

As Chazal teach us, “Rabbi Yaakov would say: this world is like a hallway before Olam Habah, the World-to-Come. You should prepare yourself in the hallway, to enter the Palace.”

The events of this last difficult period are a time to reinforce the recognition that our lives here are fleeting.

We must focus on what is really critical — our eternal life.

Our true achievements are measured in what we prepare for ourselves in this temporary world for the eternal world of Olam Habah.

Recently, an older man I had not spoken to for many years called me and asked me to come over.

When I arrived, I was certain he was going to bring up an old gripe he had had with me for many years.

Surprisingly, It was just the opposite.

We sat and talked and reminisced without any mention of the friction that had separated us for years.

Finally, I could no longer restrain myself. “Laibel, we have not spoken for almost seven years. What happened?”

He turned to me and said, “What happened was the events of October 7. I am seven years older now, and I finally realized I never want to have to explain “upstairs” why we hadn’t spoken for seven years.

I knew that in the next world, I no longer wanted to explain why we could not be seated together.”

Tears ran down our faces, and as we held each other tightly, both of us wished the moment of connection would never end.

If you can include this additional piece that would be amazing

Every morning, we wake up, and the first words out of our mouths are “Modeh Ani Lefanecha,” “I thank you, Hashem.”

For what do we thank Him?

For returning to us our neshama.

The tefilla says “nishmasi,” which translates as “my soul.”

The eternal neshama, a part of Hashem, which we entrust back to Him each night.

Each day, Hashem returns to all of us our unique, special, singular soul.

It is our consciousness, our essence — and through it we live forever.

Every neshama has a special purpose and a unique challenge.

And every day Hashem returns to us My Soul” — Nishmasi!

He gives me back my special soul, which has its own particular mission that only my neshama can fulfill.

We conclude with “Rabah Emunasecha,” where we declare, “Hashem, how great is your faithfulness.”

This means, we declare that Hashem is “true to His word.”

This world is one in which we prepare for the next world; the ultimate reward Hashem will grant us is in Olam Haba, the next world.

When we awaken to another day we declare that, “Hashem, just as You gave me back my unique neshama this morning, so too “You are faithful” to ultimately return our neshama for its true reward in Olam Haba. “Rabah Emunasecha” also declares Hashem’s faith in us to use this new day to accomplish our unique mission and purpose.

The Modeh Ani therefore begins every day with a burst of inspiration, motivation and clarity.

*Take part in NASCK’s Shabbos Vayechi initiative and download a beautiful Modeh Ani poster at ShabbosVayechi.org to hang in your home, so that you too can live each day with the reality of your eternity.*


Rabbi Ron Yitzchok Eisenman is the rav of Congregation Ahavas Israel, Passaic.

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