WWOT – Weekly Words of Torah: Parashat Vayechi

To inspire, guide, engage, enrich, and empower Conservative Jewish Women
By Rabbi Ellen S. Wolintz-Fields, Executive Director, Women’s League For Conservative Judaism

This Shabbat, we conclude the reading of the book of Genesis, Sefer Bereshit, with the Torah Reading of Parashat Vayechi. As Jacob prepares for his death, he blesses his sons, as well as his grandsons. With each of Jacob’s blessings, he captures the essence of each son’s personality and character. Going forward, the words of the blessings, and the symbolism conveyed in the words of the blessings to each of the sons, become their tribe’s symbol and emblem. For example, when one sees a series of symbols for tribes, a lion is often associated with the tribe of Judah because of the blessing given to Judah in Genesis 49:9, “Judah is a lion’s whelp; on prey my son, have you grown. He crouches, lies down like a lion, like the king of beasts – who dare rouse him?” Dan is symbolized with a serpent, as his blessing in Genesis 49:17 was “Dan shall be a serpent by the road, a viper by the path.”

There are a number of symbols associated with the Jewish people – a menorah, the chai, and, of course, the Magen David, the Star of David, our six-pointed Jewish star. When I commuted to New York on the New Jersey Transit bus, my favorite part of the commute was driving by the Newark airport and seeing the blue Magen David on the El Al planes. Such great pride one feels to see our Magen David, our Jewish Star on an airplane, or anywhere, for that matter. Now more than ever, we must show our Jewish symbols with greater frequency and pride. This year, we have heard, more often than in previous years, that our Torah Fund pin Atid, Future, in the shape of a Jewish star, has inspired people to wear their Torah Pin more frequently, because of the pride it brings for one’s Jewish identity. If you have not yet made your Torah Fund contribution, it is never too late to help the future of our five seminaries. Furthermore, the Torah Fund pin would make a great gift for someone, to show their Jewish pride and hope for a bright and peaceful future.

WWOT, Weekly Words of Torah is a brief paragraph prepared weekly by our new Executive Director, Rabbi Ellen S. Wolintz-Fields, presented in our “This Week @ Women’s League.” WWOT will provide meaningful thoughts related to the Weekly Torah Portion, an event on the Calendar, a Prayer, or something of Jewish interest, to inspire, guide, engage, enrich, and empower Conservative Jewish Women. If you have any particular interest in future topics, or want to send Rabbi Wolintz-Fields an email, you can contact her at ewolintz-fields@wlcj.org. Read previous Weekly Words of Torah here.