April 15, 2024
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April 15, 2024
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At the end of Parshat Vayechi—which of course is also the end of Sefer Bereishit—Yosef tells his brothers that Egypt is only a temporary stop. He blesses them that God will help them make aliyah to Eretz Yisrael, to the Promised Land. Yosef also asks them to take his bones up with them to Eretz Yisrael (Bereishit 50:22–25).

These verses take on special import if we read them in their true context. We are used to reading the whole of Vayechi together, in which case these verses are seen simply as the conclusion of the parsha. However, one can say that these verses are really a direct continuation of Parshat Vayigash.


Almost the entire portion of Vayechi deals with Ya’akov Avinu. From the very beginning “And Ya’akov lived in the land of Egypt…” almost to the very end, the Torah tells us about Ya’akov: his life in Egypt, his request to be buried in Eretz Yisrael, his blessings to Ephraim, Menashe and his sons, and those very sons telling Yosef that their father requested he should not be angry with them.

All these episodes involve Ya’akov. But if we put “Parshat Ya’akov” in parentheses, we are left with the verses at the end of Vayechi, which we can now connect immediately to the last verses in Vayigash (Bereishit 47), which describe Ya’akov’s family’s situation in Egypt, their healthy economic and food situation in contrast to their Egyptian contemporaries:

“Yosef sustained his father and his brothers and all of his father’s household with food according to the children. Now there was no bread in all the earth for the famine was very severe. The land of Egypt and the land of Canaan became weary from hunger.” (Ibid., 11–12)

The Egyptians view Yosef as the master of Egypt and plead with him to feed them, which he does, turning them into Pharaoh’s slaves in the process. This description of Yosef’s strict and economically successful rule in Egypt ends with a description of the Jewish people’s prosperous period in Goshen (Ibid., 27).

Hence, the immediate continuation of Vayigash is indeed the end of Parshat Vayechi. Yosef, too, is blessed with prosperity. And although he cannot leave Egypt whenever he wants and needs official approval from Pharaoh, he is still in an excellent social, economic and family position.

With this in mind, he declares to his brothers: “…I am about to die, but God will surely remember you and bring you up out of this land to the land that He swore to Avraham, Yitzchak and to Ya’akov.”

Every Jew belongs in Eretz Yisrael.

Despite economic success, despite physical comforts, Egypt is no place for the Jews.

This is Yosef’s greatness. From time immemorial, Jews felt for Eretz Yisrael when it was tough for them in exile. When they were in trouble, being persecuted, attacked and killed. The greater the antisemitism, the greater the emotions towards Zion.

However, true love and connection to Eretz Yisrael is constant and eternal, even when the situation in the Diaspora is flourishing and Jews lack nothing.

Yosef brought the Jewish people to Egypt to survive the years of famine. Yet he knew he had to warn them of the dangers of staying.

Sometimes, there is no choice and Jews stay in their home countries for various reasons, but in truth, every Jew should be aspiring to live in Eretz Yisrael. Every Jew should remember that their aim—and the aim of their family—is to reach the Promised Land.

Even when the economic situation is booming elsewhere, Eretz Yisrael is always more important, better and more appropriate for the Jewish people.

Rabbi Yosef Zvi Rimon is Head of Mizrachi’s Educational Advisory Board and Rabbinic Council. He serves as the Chief Rabbi of Gush Etzion, Rosh Yeshiva of the Jerusalem College of Technology and is the Founder and Chairman of Sulamot and La’Ofek. He is a member of Mizrachi’s Speakers Bureau ( www.mizrachi.org/speakers ).

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