"And Jacob lived in the land of Egypt." Why is this portion closed [there is no space in the Torah between it and the previous portion]? Rabbi Jacob said: When Jacob died, Israel's eyes were closed. [While Jacob was alive, the Children of Israel's eyes were illuminated by the light of Torah; when he died, the light was closed.] Rabbi Yehuda said: Then they descended into exile and were enslaved [by Egypt].

Rabbi Shimon said: It is written above, "And Israel dwelt in the land of Egypt in the country of Goshen; and they took possession of it, and grew, and multiplied exceedingly", (Gen. 47:27) [then the verse] "And Jacob lived," [which means] that we should not separate the two. As he lived in luxury and had pleasures and was short of nothing, so did Jacob live in luxury and with all the pleasures of a King. Therefore, they [the 2 portions – Ed.] are not separated.

Here it is considered that "Jacob lived" [meaning it was considered that he had a good life]. It was not said of him: 'Jacob lived' all his life, for his life was full of troubles. Of him it is written, "I had no rest [in the house of Laban] nor was I quiet [from Esau and his ministering angel] and I had no peace [because of the troubles with Dinah and Shechem] and then trouble came [with the troubles of Joseph]." (Job 3:26) But after he went down to Egypt, it is said of him "And he lived." He saw his son a king, he saw all his sons pure and righteous, living in pleasure and luxury, and he dwelt in their midst as good wine resting on its sediment. Then it is said: "And Jacob lived." So there is no separation between "And they grew and multiplied exceedingly" and "And Jacob lived," and so it should be [that the two Torah portions are joined as though they were one].

What is the reason that the Torah has to state: "Seventeen years" [that Jacob lived in Egypt]? Rabbi Shimon said that Jacob had to deal with trouble all his life, and his days were troubled right from the beginning [and until he went down to Egypt]. When he saw Joseph standing before him, Jacob looked at Joseph and his soul was made whole as if he saw Joseph's mother. For the beauty of Joseph resembled that of Rachel, and it seemed to him as if he had never known any sorrow at all.

When Joseph departed from him, it came to pass that "I had no repose, nor had I rest, nor was I quiet; yet trouble came." For this trouble was harder for Jacob to bear than anything else that had happened to him. When Joseph was separated from him, it is said: "Joseph being seventeen years old, was feeding the flock". (Gen. 37:2) All his days, Jacob had no such sorrow. He used to weep every single day for the seventeen years he was without Joseph.

What was replied to him from heaven, "And Joseph shall put his hand on your eyes [to close them when you die]". (Gen. 46:4) Here you have another set of seventeen years in their stead, in pleasure and delight, luxury and lacking for nothing. This is the meaning of: "And Jacob lived in the land of Egypt for seventeen years.". (Gen. 47:28) Come and see: All of those last seventeen years, the Shechinah — the glory of G‑d — was with him, and that is why they are called 'Life'. [This is not the physical life of enjoyment, rather it is the life of clinging to one's Creator]

BeRahamim LeHayyim: Why did the Ari and Chida pick this passage, and what are they trying to teach us?

What a long, strange trip it's been!

We weave a cloth, a garment, through the years of our life.
White interwoven with black, black interwoven with white.
But sometimes gray. And sometimes a R A I N B O W!

What is the story we will tell of our life? How will our garment appear? Will we retell stories of our physical, or our spiritual life? What are the things we will treasure? Value? Make Sacred?

We are commanded to "CHOOSE LIFE!" That means that when things seem dark, to see the life instead of the death.

It is a mandate, but sometimes is the hardest thing on earth.

Contemplate what you will say when you are 130 and asked about the time you passed on this earth.

What does this mean to you, and why are you reading it now?


Bracketed annotations from Metok Midevash and Sulam commentaries
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