Friday 13 Tevet 5783 (06.01.23)
Why Did Jacob Drew Up His Feet?
וַיְכַ֤ל יַעֲקֹב֙ לְצַוֺּ֣ת אֶת-בָּנָ֔יו וַיֶּאֱסֹ֥ף רַגְלָ֖יו אֶל-הַמִּטָּ֑ה וַיִּגְוַ֖ע וַיֵּאָ֥סֶף אֶל-עַמָּֽיו׃
"When Jacob finished his instructions to his sons, he drew his feet into the bed and, breathing his last, he was gathered to his chin."
Why Do we Need to Know?
Why do we need to know that he lifted up his feet, it would have been sufficient if the text had said that Jacob died after the blessings.
King Solomon says in Kohelet ( Ecclesiastes) 8:8
אֵ֣ין אָדָ֞ם שַׁלִּ֤יט בָּר֙וּחַ֙ לִכְל֣וֹא אֶת-הָר֔וּחַ וְאֵ֤ין שִׁלְטוֹן֙ בְּי֣וֹם הַמָּ֔וֶת וְאֵ֥ין מִשְׁלַ֖חַת בַּמִּלְחָמָ֑ה וְלֹֽא-יְמַלֵּ֥ט רֶ֖שַׁע אֶת-בְּעָלָֽיו׃
"No man has authority over the lifebreath-to hold back the lifebreath; there is no authority over the day of death. There is no mustering out from that war; wickedness is powerless to save its owner."
When the moment of death comes, man has no control over it. The body is weakened and sometimes the spirit weakens. But not with Jacob, he was in complete control physically and spiritually. Which made the blessings for his children all the more valuable, he knew what he was saying. After he had done all that was his life's task here on earth, he pulled his feet off the earth and blew out the breath without pain and struggle, in complete control and peace.
An important lesson we can learn from this is that we cannot say to the angel of death:
"wait a minute, I need to put some order in my live".
We must live each day as if it were our last.
Did Jacob Died?
But there is something more peculiar, it is not said that Jacob died, it is said that he is gathered to his chin. Yet we know that he must have died physically, his body was even embalmed before it was taken to Israel, to the cave of Machpelah in Chevron.
Normally when a person dies his soul goes back to heavenly realms. Jacob had reached such a level of holiness that he was not forced to return there. He had such a high level of holiness that it is even connected to 1 of the names of HaShem.
כִּ֣י בִ֠רְאֹת֠וֹ יְלָדָ֞יו מַעֲשֵׂ֥ה יָדַ֛י בְּקִרְבּ֖וֹ יַקְדִּ֣ישֽׁוּ שְׁמִ֑י וְהִקְדִּ֙ישׁוּ֙ אֶת-קְד֣וֹשׁ יַֽעֲקֹ֔ב וְאֶת-אֱלֹהֵ֥י יִשְׂרָאֵ֖ל יַעֲרִֽיצוּ׃
"For when he-that is, his children-behold what My hands have wrought in his midst, they will hallow My name. Men will hallow the Holy One of Jacob And stand in awe of the God of Israel." Isaiah 29:23
A holy person like Jacob, who connects with HaShem on such a high level, has not died in the way we see and experience death. It also enables Jacob to return to earth from the heavenliest at any time to his children to assist them.
Connect With Life so that You are at Peace
We may learn from this that when we connect with HaShem, Who is life, despite pain and difficulty we may experience, we may experience peace in difficult circumstances.
Sources: With thanks to rabbi W. v. Dijk for the inspiring question, Sefaria: Or HaChaim, Rabbeinu Bahya and Siftei Chakhamim
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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