Below is a collection of Parashat Vayehi resources created by The Lookstein Center staff or contributed to the site by Jewish educators.
This is a growing collection. Check back soon or write to us at firstname.lastname@example.org if you didn’t find what you’re looking for.
DISCUSSION AND REFLECTION QUESTIONS
Question #1: How do you deal with anger and angry people? Is it better just not to associate with angry people? In Parashat Vayehi, Jacob blesses all of his sons. In this process, he curses the anger of Simeon and Levi and does not want to be associated with them. Do you agree with this?
Look inside the text (Bereshit 49: 5-7),
שִׁמְעוֹן וְלֵוִי אַחִים כְּלֵי חָמָס מְכֵרֹתֵיהֶם – Simeon and Levi are a pair; their weapons are tools of lawlessness.
בְּסֹדָם אַל תָּבֹא נַפְשִׁי בִּקְהָלָם אַל תֵּחַד כְּבֹדִי כִּי בְאַפָּם הָרְגוּ אִישׁ וּבִרְצֹנָם עִקְּרוּ שׁוֹר – I would not want to be included in their community, or be part of them. When they are angry, they kill men, and when they are pleased, they hurt oxen
אָרוּר אַפָּם כִּי עָז וְעֶבְרָתָם כִּי קָשָׁתָה אֲחַלְּקֵם בְּיַעֲקֹב וַאֲפִיצֵם בְּיִשְׂרָאֵל – Their strong anger and endless wrath should be cursed. I will divide them among the descendants of Jacob, scatter them throughout the land of Israel
Question #2: This parasha is called “Vayehi” –“and he lived” -but it begins with the death of Jacob and ends with the death of Joseph. The other parasha with “life” in its title –“Chaye Sara” begins with the death of Sarah and ends with the death of Abraham. But along with the stories of death, both parshiyot deal with the generations to come and the continuation of the tradition and values of the fathers and mothers. In the Talmud (Taanit 5b), Rabbi Yochanan states that Jacob never died. His students reply that his death and burial were described in detail! He then quotes from the book of Jeremiah, (30:10) “Fear not, my servant Jacob… I will save you from afar and your children from the land of captivity” In other words, a person continues to live by way of the legacy he has given his children. Is there a secret to immortality? For thousands of years, man has wondered and searched for a secret to immortality. Why do you think this is true? Does a person “live on” in his children and values?
Question #3: Jacob insists, both from Joseph and his other sons, that they return him to his ancestral plot in the Machpelah Cave for burial. There is a general norm, as well as a halakhic directive, to honor the wishes of a dying person. Are there limitations to that? What if their wishes violate local laws or our ethical and/or religious values?
Question #4: Jacob blesses his grandchildren, insisting that they “belong to him.” How much should grandparents be involved in raising their grandchildren? What level of interference in parental decisions is acceptable or not? If grandparents are footing the bill for their grandchildren’s education, should that give more of a say in how they are raised? How do we balance the need for grandparents to be involved, as an integral part of the children’s history and tradition, and the need to avoid meddling in the decisions made by the parents?