Parshat Vayechi Sweets and Treats
In this week’s Torah portion, Parshas Vayechi, we learn that Yaakov lives his last 17 years in Egypt and senses that he is going to die. He calls Yosef and asks him to promise that he will be buried in Israel, to which Yosef agrees. When Yaakov becomes ill, Yosef visits him with his two sons, Menashe and Ephraim. Yaakov gives them the status of being part of the tribes of Israel – they are the only grandchildren of Yaakov to be given their own tribes. Yosef asks his father to bless his sons and places Menashe, the firstborn, to Yaakov’s right, and Ephraim on Yaakov’s left. Yaakov crosses his hands, putting his right hand on Ephraim’s head although he was the younger of the two brothers. Yaakov blesses them with the following (which is said every night before going to sleep): “May the angel who redeemed me from all harm bless the youths, and may they be called by my name and the name of my fathers, Avraham and Yitzchak, and may they multiply abundantly like fish, in the midst of the land.” Yosef attempted to switch his fathers’ hands but was told by Yaakov that his switch of his hands was intentional, saying the “younger brother will be greater, and his children[‘s fame] will fill the nations.” Yaakov further blessed the two boys, saying that all of Bnei Yisrael will bless each other by saying: “May Hashem make you like Ephraim and Manashe” (as fathers bless their sons every Friday night).
Yaakov then summons all of his sons, and delivers a personal message to one. Some were rebuked for things they had done wrong, like Reuven, Shimon and Levi. Yehuda was blessed with kingship and success in battle. Zevulun was blessed with success in the sea trade and Yisachar was blessed with finding both work and rest (like a donkey). Dan was blessed good judgement and Gad was blessed with bravery in battle. Asher was blessed with an abundance of olive oil and Naphtali with the speed of a deer. Yosef was given many blessings and Binyamin was compared with a wolf. Yaakov then repeated his request to be buried in Israel in Maarat HaMachpela with his ancestors and passes away at the age of 147. After a long period of mourning, Yosef, with the permission of Paroah, carries Yaakov’s body to Israel. A huge funeral procession consisting of all the elders of Egypt as well as Yaakov’s family went to Israel to bury Yaakov. After returning to Egypt, Yosef reassures his brothers that he does not feel ill will toward them and that they don’t have to fear that he will take revenge on them for selling him now that their father has passed away. Yosef tells his brothers that Hashem will eventually take them out of Egypt and asks them to promise that they will take him with them when they are taken back to Israel to be buried. As this parsha and the Book of Bereishis (Genesis), concludes, Yosef passes away at the age of 110.
There are many symbols in this week’s parsha! Candy lips symbolize the blessings that Yaakov gave his children and grandchildren before he passed away. Candy fish represent the blessing he gave to Ephraim and Menashe, that they would multiply like fish. White gummy candies surrounded by little candy balls or mashmallows could represent the angels mentioned in this same blessing. Candy feet symbolize the promise to bury Yaakov in Israel which is fulfilled in this week’s parsha, as well as the promise to bury Yosef in Israel in the future when the Jewish people are taken from Egypt. The blue and white candies represent the Land of Israel where Yosef promises that Hashem will bring the Jewish people. It also represents the requests by Yaakov and Yosef to be buried in the land of Israel. Please share your own ideas in the comments section below.