Family Ties: Vayigash 2020

by Adam J. Rosenbaum

Pre-Game Chatter: How do we show comparable respect and love to family members without playing favorites? How do we manage loving each individual in the way they need to be loved?

As Jacob journeys to Egypt to live near Joseph once again, a stop along the way tells us he is thinking of more than just his children:

The Pitch: “So Israel set out with all that was his, and he came to Beer-Sheba, where he offered sacrifices to the God of his father Isaac.” – Genesis 46:1

Swing #1: “[The Rema writes:] There are some that say a person is not obligated to honor his grandfather, but this does not appear correct to me. Rather he is obligated in the honoring of his father more than that of his grandfather (and we can see that from this verse …).” – Shulchan Arukh

Swing #2: “He did this because Isaac had previously built an altar there when God appeared to him.” – Rashbam

Swing #3: “Alternately, these offerings were because he set out once more to leave the Holy Land and he was not certain that God approved of what he was doing. He used the offerings hoping to receive guidance from the Almighty.” – Tur HaAroch

Late-Inning Questions: The Torah tells us little about Isaac and Jacob’s relationship. What does this verse tell us, if anything? Does Jacob honor his father more after his father’s death than when his father is alive? How do we best honor our loved ones after they’ve passed?

On-Deck at Temple Beth Tzedek: I’d just like to share a note of appreciation for our Temple’s staff, many of whom are celebrating Christmas with their families right now. They do so much to ensure that we can enjoy our many holidays throughout the years, and of course, they’ve once again come through during these complex days of pandemic. We wish them only joy and light during this important time.

The Big Inning at the End: Speaking of honoring loved ones, there may never have been a more moving moment on the baseball field when the Marlins’ Dee Gordon, at the start of the first game after the death of his teammate and friend Jose Fernandez, hit a leadoff home run and cried his way around the basepaths. We know Gordon would have traded every home run in his career just to have Fernandez back.

Shabbat Shalom!