2 Minutes of Torah Study – Vayehi

Abraham had two sons. Okay, eight, six of whom came considerably later in his life. Of the original two, the story follows Isaac. Isaac had two sons, and the story follows Jacob. Jacob had twelve sons: whom should the story follow?

Our first guess might be Joseph, his favorite, but the text squashes that idea this week and next, embalming Joseph and leaving him in an Egyptian coffin before a new king arose over Egypt who knew not Joseph. We might instead guess Leah’s firstborn, Reuben, but Jacob’s so-called-blessing this week writes him out of the story for his earlier actions:

Genesis 49:4

Unstable as water, you shall excel no longer, for when you mounted your father’s bed you brought disgrace — my couch is mounted!

Genesis 35:22

While Israel was staying in that land, Reuben went and lay with Bilhah, his father’s concubine; and Israel found out.

Perhaps Simeon and Levi? Nope, their past actions disqualify them, too.

Genesis 49:5

Simeon and Levi are a pair; their weapons are tools of lawlessness.

Rashi on Genesis 49:5

Simeon and Levi were of one mind, regarding Shechem and regarding Joseph.  In the land of their sojourns, they conducted themselves with violence.

Benjamin? A solid guess…but Benjamin goes down as the ancestral progenitor of Saul, who ultimately falls from grace. Judges 19 and 20 absolutely excoriate the Tribe of Benjamin and leave it for dead. 

Down and down the family tree we go until eventually we arrive at Judah. Central to Israel and the priesthood, ancestral progenitor of King David, our sacred text ultimately follows Judah. As do we, those who practice Judah-ism.

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