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Recognizing the Brother in the Other- D’var Torah for Parshat VaYechi

12/27/2023 11:03:11 AM


Rabbi Rudin

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In this week’s Torah portion, Vayechi, the long-estranged tribes of Israel are finally united once again.  The burden of generations of rivalry and hatred that stretch throughout Genesis from Cain and Abel through Isaac and Yishmael, Jacob and Esau and finally Joseph and his brothers is lifted at last and the Children of Israel are finally ready to become a nation.


It is as if a veil of divisiveness has fallen away and our ancestors recognize their love and kinship.  Even though the way ahead through slavery and oppression is long and bitter, because the brothers and the tribes they father are united, the pathway to redemption is already set.

In these dark days following Black Shabbat, October 7th, the people of the State of Israel, and us, their brethren living in the diaspora, have also come together in a way that would have seemed impossible.  More than just as a response to the war imposed upon Israel and the renewed antisemitism that threatens us, it is as if as the world grows darker around us, we recognize and are drawn to the light within each other.

The City of Ofakim in Southern Israel, a community of 34,000, bore the full brunt of the brutal attacks on October 7th.  Caught unawares and with little military resence, the citizens of the town turned out in numbers to defend their community.  Many made the ultimate sacrifice to save their families, friends and neighbors.  Now, Israelis are calling Ofakim Ir Shel Giborim - The City of Heroes. Arad Levy, an internationally-known Israeli graffiti artist has created a mural at the entrance to the neighborhood where many of the attacks occurred: