By: Hadassah Reich (11th Grade)
In this week’s Parsha, Parshat Vayechi, Yaakov wants to give over a prophecy to his children before he dies. He tells them “הֵאָֽסְפוּ֙ וְאַגִּ֣ידָה לָכֶ֔ם אֵ֛ת אֲשֶׁר־יִקְרָ֥א אֶתְכֶ֖ם” בְּאַחֲרִ֥ית הַיָּמִֽים,”meaning "Gather around, and I will tell you what will happen at the End of Days. "Later in the portion, Yaakov gives blessings to his twelve sons, but the prophecy is never shared.
What happened to the vision Yaakov was anticipating to tell? Rashi comes to explain that right when Yaakov was going to give over the prophecy, the Divine Presence of Hashem left him. To expand on this thought, Rabbi Naftali of Rupshitz says that when Yaakov saw the future he saw all the anguish that Bnei Yisrael would go through in time. This recognition deeply saddened Yaakov, causing the Divine Presence to leave. The Talmud says that sadness hinders one from having prophecies. For this reason, Yaakov could no longer see the clear future of Bnei Yisrael.
Through this event, Yaakov shows us the true meaning of empathy. Tzadikim do not live for their own achievements and glory, rather, they live for the people around them and their community. The Parsha opens with the pasuk "וַיְחִ֤י יַעֲקֹב֙ בְּאֶ֣רֶץ מִצְרַ֔יִם,” “And Yaakov lived in the land of Egypt.” The Meshech Chochma adds that Yaakov did not just live in Egypt for himself, he lived for everyone else. He cared for the community and prayed for everyone, both Jews and Egyptians. While the whole world was going through a famine, Yaakov did not look to satisfy his own hunger; He looked to fill everyone else’s.
With the book of Bereshit coming to a close, it is important to contemplate the lessons taught throughout the twelve Parshiyot. Furthermore, we should think about the importance of empathizing with others and reaching out when we see someone in need. May we learn from Yaakov to prioritize the community’s success over our own personal goals.