Va-y’chi and Bat Mitzvah

Bereshit ends this week in a way which, if it were a traditional novel, would leave its readers with a sense of contented fulfilment. After an epic first few episodes covering the creation of the world, the first humans, a cataclysmic flood and an attempt to impose global hegemony on all the peoples, a family drama begins to unfold. Parental and sibling conflicts, migration, famine and local wars are all eventually resolved through repentance, forgiveness and the wholesale uprooting of a family to a new land, where everything promises a bright future. The latest of the patriarchs dies in peace, reunited with his long lost son, now happily married, a proud father himself and occupying a position of power and renown. They all lived happily ever after…

Except they didn’t, for Bereshit is not a novel or, if it is one, it is only the first of a quintet… and then more. Life works its way through the Torah as an increasingly complex, intertwined and multi-layered destiny. Not a fate, for the characters are not puppets of predetermining forces bound to an inescapable future, but the subjects of a guiding and coaxing God, who constantly works to opens the eyes of His beloved creatures. The Torah is, besides, both an ever renewing work and the lead-in to the future of Israel and of the world. 

So be strong, be strong and may we be strengthened by the new found harmony of Jacob’s family. May we be strengthened and ready for a most challenging future that is about to unfold in Sh”mot. 

This week may Zehava Cohen, the golden one, be strengthened, too, as, guided by Harvey Kurzfield, she reads to us from the final sedra of Bereshit. The service will begin at the normal time of 10:30.

Could those of you who have your own siddur please bring it along to the service, since there will be over sixty guests and not enough siddurim for half of them.