D’var Torah Vayechi Dec. 21,2018

rabbiDFIn this week’s parasha, as Jacob is about to die, he gathers his sons together for a blessing on his deathbed. He starts out with words of blessing and a vision for the family’s future, but soon the deathbed message devolves into cutting criticism of many of the sons.  The great Torah commentator Rashi reacts this way:  “He wanted to reveal to them the end of Israel’s exile, but the Shekhina (God’s presence) departed from him and he began to speak of other things.” (Rashi on Gen 49:1)  How many times do we start out with the best of intentions in giving advice and support to our children or those we mentor or lead and then somehow revert to negativity, failing to hide our disappointment and criticism?  It is an easy trap to fall into.  In our family settings, in classrooms, or in the board room, we need to be ever vigilant in insuring that our desire to guide, advise, and build up does not devolve into harshness, haranguing, and tearing down.