Vayechi 2015 Dec 26 / 14 Tevet, 5776

At the end of this week’s parasha, which is also the conclusion of Genesis, reading between the lines, there is worry about the future. As Joseph dies, we are informed in a very matter-of-fact way that he is “embalmed” and “put into a coffin in Egypt.” (Gen. 50:26). But, earlier in the parasha, Jacob also died and was embalmed, according to Egyptian custom, and several verses are devoted to how he was elaborately mourned by Egyptian dignitaries and carried to Canaan for burial. (Gen 50:1-13) When Joseph dies, he is not so mourned. In his book Understanding Genesis, Nachum Sarna wrote: “The atmosphere, heavy with the anticipation of enslavement, is filled with foreboding.” (p. 351) Our ancestors were still fearful of being strangers and worried about how they would be treated, even after Joseph rose to power and Egypt welcomed them. Countries all over the world are now grappling with how to or whether to welcome foreigners. The last chapters of Genesis and early chapters of Exodus, which we will begin next week, have much to say on this topic. I will be addressing the question of immigration and the treatment of foreigners in today’s world in my sermon this Shabbat.