טז דָּן יָּדִין עַמּ ו כְּאַחַד שִבְּטֵי יִשְּרָּאֵל יז יְּהִי דָּן נָּחָּש עֲלֵי דֶרֶךְ שְּפִי פן עֲלֵי ארַח הַ נשֵךְ
עִקְּבֵי סוּס וַיִ פל רכְּב ו אָח ור
This Shabbat I stood for the mourner Kaddish and since that moment I keep trying to understand how difficult was the two last months. I started than thinking about this week Paracha (Vayé’hi- ויחי ) which literally means : and he lived. And I realized how powerful can be the answer when we know how to listen to our tradition.
Vayé’hi is the last Paracha of the sefer Berechit and the text is basically about the last days of Jacob’s life, his meeting with Joseph after many years of separation and his last benedictions before his death.
This Paracha has a particular typography, revealed first by Rachi. It’s what we call a Paracha Stouma (closed). Most of us know that the Parachiotes are usually structured by a white (space) commanded by the tradition. This white space separate each Paracha from the next one, but Vayé’hi has no white. It follows immediately the Paracha before.
We can say that the whites in the texts are times for breathing. A Paracha stouma is a Paracha where we don’t breathe and it’s exactly the first teaching of Rachi who says : « When Yacov passed away, the hearts and the eyes of the Bné Israel were closed by the suffering endured by the exile » and so was mine after my father death.
Why the death of Yacov enclosed the hearts and the eyes of Israel ? Specially as we know that the exile started way before Yacov death, maybe from the birth of Yitshak. Of course, we can say symbolically that during the exile we can hardly breathe but I feel that it’s really not about that.
The Morning Prayer Chaharit is attributed to Avraham. The afternoon prayer is attributed to Itshak and the night prayer is attributed to Yacov and it’s very strange because this last one is not a required prayer. It’s the divré rouchout. Yacov is the divré rouchout.
The Hassidout says, : « as long as our interior moral balance stays the same , the circumstances don’t affect us ». But if you lose your interior balance, you will feel the weight of the circumstances. Exactly as Yacov death, exposed Israel to the exterior pressures. Exactly as I was so exposed to everything, after my father death.
And I thought about the testimony of Etty Hillesum, this young Jewish Hungarian, dead in Auschwitz in 1943. « I feel imbricate in life, it ‘s not me anymore who wants to do this or this but life is great, good, passionate, eternal, and if we give all the importance to oneself , agitate, and struggle, we miss its powerful current ». In her most unfavorable circumstances, she was able to feel this current of life inside of her. Passion and purpose and full-fledged living feel right to her. However passion and purpose are never tidy or tame, or perfect. They demand a bit of mess and wildness and surrender. They want our rushing river, our drive and our need. They want our aliveness. They don’t care about logic. They need our heartbeats.
Yacov when he gave the benedictions to his sons, he wanted to tell them the future, but god enclosed his eyes , so again we see the prophecy was taken away from him but when he gave benedictions to Dan, he compared him to a snake that slips the rider from his horse and Rachi says that this means that Yacov won back the prophecy and saw that Samson was captured and humiliated by the philistines.
When Yacov saw this prophecy , he asked god for hope, the hope is primordial in Judaism. The Tikva is exactly the conclusion of the sefer Berechit. And it’s about the memory, to remember that there is always a new door to open for breathing. The true memory serves to see the future as said Rabbi Nahman.
And I personally , adore those who have been through the adversity and heartache and obstacles as impossible and gigantic as he the sun itself. They usually make it with hearts as warm as gold. Lives burned with intention. Hope as deep as oceans, they know how to start again and how to walk through walls with palms wide open, and how to begin at the edge and end. Those to me are the best people. As said the Mexican proverb : “They tried to bury us, they didn’t know that we were seeds”.
I’ve learned through this experience that when there is a fresh wound in your heart keep it open until it heals. Air it out. Understand it. Dive into it. Be fierce enough to become it. If you ignore it, it won’t be able to breathe. If you ignore it, it will merely deepen, spread and resurface later.
And when later happens, it will hurt even more. Because when later happens you won’t know what you’re bleeding for.
I’ve learned to remain with it until it clears. And watch the beauty pour into my openness. I learned to remain open to feel lightness. Remain open to feel free.