"Jacob Blessing Ephraim and Manasseh" by Rembrandt. (Wikimedia)

Each Family Has a Mission in the World

Vayechi: A resource for families.

Commentary on Parashat Vayechi, Genesis 47:28 - 50:26

Each family has a mission in the world. With reflection, you could probably write a mission statement for your family.  For example, parents might work toward their children growing up to be secure, contributing members of society, ensuring that they have compassion for others and do good in the world. Everything we do while we are raising of children, large and small, contributes to this overall mission.

In our Torah portion this week, we find Jacob on his deathbed, offering a blessing to each of his sons. Each blessing includes a vision of that child’s future. For example, when blessing Judah, he blesses both Judah and Judah’s descendants as leaders in Israel.

A parent needn’t wait until he is on his death bed to bless his child. Every Friday night, traditional Jews offer blessings to each of their children. While there is a formula that many say, others make up their own blessing. What an interesting practice it would be to articulate weekly what you wish for your child. Mentioning a success that each child had during the week may also increase the child’s self- esteem and enjoyment of this worthwhile ritual. It’s a way of making the mission of your family explicit in the blessing of a child.

TALK TO YOUR KIDS
about the kinds of blessings they enjoy now and what they might want for themselves in the future.

CONNECT TO THEIR LIVES:
·    What do you think blessing means?
·    What are the blessings you enjoy in your life?
·    Do we focus enough on the things our children are doing right?

© Copyright 2010 Joyce and Fred Claar

From “Values and Ethics: Torah Topics for Today,” available from Behrman House Publishers.

 

Discover More

How Jacob Healed His Family

Israel’s third patriarch was born into great dysfunction, but found ways to create the first cohesive family in the Bible.

Bar/Bat Mitzvah Planning Issues for Interfaith Families

Interfaith families should ask the rabbi about synagogue policies and honestly examine both parents' attachments to Judaism.

When It’s OK To Say Nothing

At shiva, the mourner gets to decide whether or not to initiate conversation.

The Torah

Five books of story, law, and poetry divided into 54 weekly portions.

Kohelet: Torah for the 21st Century

The Book of Ecclesiastes may be the section of the Hebrew Bible most relevant to the way we experience the world today.

The Book of Eicha: Faith in a Whirlwind

At the core of Lamentations is an expression of faith in the human capacity to survive in a broken world.

Fourteen Things You Need to Know About King David

The mighty warrior and sweet singer slew Goliath, stole the throne, and conquered Jerusalem—and that’s just a start!

What Ruth Can Teach Us About Celebrating Shavuot

The Jewish people accepted the Torah in fear of God's overwhelming power. Ruth accepted it out of love and loyalty.