January 1-7, 2023 Genesis 47:28-50:26
A Part of the Torah Portion: Jacob lives the final 17 years of his life in Egypt. Before his passing, he asks Joseph to take an oath that he will bury him in the Holy Land. He blesses Joseph’s two sons, Manasseh and Ephraim, elevating them to the status of his own sons as progenitors of tribes within the nation of Israel.The patriarch desires to reveal the end of days to his children, but is prevented from doing so.
וַיְחִ֤י יַעֲקֹב֙ בְּאֶ֣רֶץ מִצְרַ֔יִם שְׁבַ֥ע עֶשְׂרֵ֖ה שָׁנָ֑ה וַיְהִ֤י יְמֵֽי־יַעֲקֹב֙ שְׁנֵ֣י חַיָּ֔יו שֶׁ֣בַע שָׁנִ֔ים וְאַרְבָּעִ֥ים וּמְאַ֖ת שָׁנָֽה׃
"Jacob lived seventeen years in Egypt (2238-2255). At the end of this period, Jacob's days, i.e., the years of his lifetime, totaled one-hundred forty-seven years. Thus, Jacob did not live as long as his grandfather Abraham (175 years) or his father Isaac (180 years)."
Jacob lived in Egypt for 17 years. Egypt does not have a best name, to put it bluntly. A land of oppression and a land of exile and slavery, a country where the material world prevails and drags people down.and in that Jacob had to spend his old age, for 17 years. 17 Years for this holy soul to live in? But since the Torah never tells anything for nothing, that does bring us to the question: why do we need to know that Jacob lived there for 17 years?
The numerical value of the hebrew word "tov" טוב - good is 17. (9+6+2=17). We can conclude from this verse that the years Jacob was in Egypt were good years.Good years because he was reunited with Joseph, but wouldn't they have been better if Joseph had returned to his father instead of Jacob to Joseph?
It was the question Rabbi Menachem Mendel of Lubavitch put to his grandfather, Rabbi Shneur Zalman of Liad: "How is it that the best years of Jacob's life were the years he lived in Egypt (the epitome of decadence)?"
Before Jacob travelled to Egypt, he had sent Judah ahead to establish yeshivas so that the most basic thing his family would need in the foreign land, Torah study, was guaranteed.
Most Noahides will live in places as if it were Egypt. Places that are dark and without Torah. Places where the material world and its temptations can oppress and constrict us.
From Jacob we can learn that if we put ourselves in these dark places to Torah study - our 7 Noahide Laws and observe them and their details accurately - and get to know HaShem and seek deep relationship, we will be immune from Egypt.
As Rabbi Shneur Zalman expressed it:
"the Torah is the antidote even to Egypt; because the Torah connects us to God Himself, who is above the limitations and evils of Egypt, so that when we study the Torah, we are immune to the harmful effects that Egypt may otherwise have on us".
Not everyone will have a Yeshiva near his street where he can learn. Baruch HaShem there is the Noahide Yeshiva - online - where everyone can study and develop themselves.
Jacob lived for 147 years and all those years his Torah-study saved Jacob from all his sorrows and distresses and saved Joseph from mixing with Egypt and the people of Israel have saved themselves through all the centuries through Torah-study to remain faithful to HaShem, so Torah-study will help save us from the destructive use of the material world and will teach us to use it for good. To make the world around use a better place through their own development.
Angelique Sijbolts is one of the main writers for the NoahideAcademy.org website. She contributes for the admin of the website in English and Dutch. She teaches Hebrew to beginners and intermediate students at the Academy.
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