Let’s Study 5783 Beshalach

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Beshalach (“When He Let Go”) describes the splitting of the Red Sea and the song the Israelites sing upon crossing through. In the desert, G-d sweetens bitter water and provides manna and quail. The portion ends recounting the victory of the Israelites against an attack by the Amalekites.

In the Haftorah, the LORD delivers Sisera to Jael when Barak is afraid to attack him without Deborah the prophetess.

In the Apostolics, Messiah walks upon the waters and steadies Peter when his faith falters.

The fourth portion of the book of Shemot/Exodus is Beshalach, which means “When He Let Go.” This is the sixteenth Torah Portion.

TORAH: Exodus 13:17-17:16

HAFTORAH: Judges 4:4-5:31

APOSTLES: Matthew 14:22-33

Chabad has wonderful resources for studying the weekly Torah Portion

You can read or listen to the portions through FFOZ’s Torah Portion site.

#GoStudy #ChayeiSarah #Sarah #Issac #Rebekkah #Bible #BibleStudy #TorahPortion

Why Did Moses Pray for Pharaoh? – 5783 Bo Aliyah by Aliyah

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There is a commandment given to Israel that once every 7 years, during the Festival of Sukkot, they should assemble ALL the people to hear the Torah read to them. (Deuteronomy 31:10-12). Chazal (a Hebrew acronym that means, “our sages of blessed memory”) instituted a continuous cycle of reading the Torah. They defined weekly sections so that Jews would be reading and hearing Torah every single week and complete the 5 Books of Moses in a set time. The teachers I learned under taught me to follow the yearly Torah cycle and I discovered that Chabad divides their Torah study into daily aliyot. When the Torah portion is read in its entirety on Shabbat in the synagogue, there are seven sections, seven aliyot. The Chabad tradition is to study one aliyah each day, starting Sunday and going through to Shabbat. One who does this can get a double dose of the same Torah Portion each week.

Additionally, the Ashkenazic and Sepharidc, that is Eastern European and Spanish or Iberian Peninsula communities sometime differ on how they divide the Torah Portions.


This week’s Torah Portion is Bo: Exodus 10:1-13:16. The focus of this “Aliyah by Aliyah” will be the second aliyah.

Aliyah 2 – Exodus 10:12-23

Exodus 10:12 HaShem said to Moshe, “Reach out your hand over the land of Egypt, so that locusts will invade the land and eat every plant that the hail has left.”

EXO 10:12

The Passover Seder touches on the idea that the Hebrew slaves were kept hungry. It seems fitting that the Plague of Locusts was designed to chastise Egypt regarding that.

Exodus 10:13 Moshe reached out with his staff over the land of Egypt, and HaShem caused an east wind to blow on the land all day and all night; and in the morning the east wind brought the locusts.

EXO 10:13

Moses reaches out his staff when he was told to reach out his hand. Why is that OK? Later he is punished for striking a rock instead of speaking to it

Exodus 10:14 The locusts went up over all the land of Egypt and settled throughout Egypt’s territory. It was an invasion more severe than there had ever been before or will ever be again.

EXO 10:14

The Pharaoh who didn’t know Joseph worried Israel would join an army against him as a “fifth column.” His actions have lead to an invading army attack for Israel’s sake.

Exodus 10:15 They completely covered the ground, so that the ground looked black. They ate every plant growing from the ground and all the fruit of the trees left by the hail. Not one green thing remained, not a tree and not a plant in the field, in all the land of Egypt.

EXO 10:15

Starving an enemy army or force is a classic wartime tactic. The Almighty employs it here, in a devastating fashion that testifies His Sovereignty.

Exodus 10:16 Pharaoh hurried to summon Moshe and Aharon and said, “I have sinned against HaShem your G-d and against you.

EXO 10:16

This is the second time Pharaoh admits fault.

Exodus 10:17 Now, therefore, please forgive my sin just this once; and intercede with HaShem your G-d, so that he will at least take away from me this deadly plague!”

EXO 10:17

Could Pharaoh have directly addressed the LORD? Would He have listened? Why the go-between?

Exodus 10:18 He went out from Pharaoh and interceded with HaShem.

EXO 10:18

Moses did as Pharaoh asked, like he had before.

Exodus 10:19 HaShem reversed the wind and made it blow very strongly from the west. It took up the locusts and drove them into the Sea of Suf; not one locust remained on Egyptian soil.

EXO 10:19

Locusts can be eaten. Them being blown away was likely down to prevent the Egyptians from using them for food instead of their ruined vegetation.

Exodus 10:20 But HaShem made Pharaoh hardhearted, and he didn’t let the people of Isra’el go.

EXO 10:20

Pharaoh’s hardness of heart was self-inflicted the first 5 times.

Exodus 10:21 HaShem said to Moshe, “Reach out your hand toward the sky, and there will be darkness over the land of Egypt, darkness so thick it can be felt!”

EXO 10:21

How can darkness be felt?

Exodus 10:22 Moshe reached out his hand toward the sky, and there was a thick darkness in the entire land of Egypt for three days.

EXO 10:22

Earlier Moses uses his staff for his hand, here he uses his hand as ordered. What makes these situations different?

Exodus 10:23 People couldn’t see each other, and no one went anywhere for three days. But all the people of Isra’el had light in their homes.

EXO 10:23

What a clear demonstration of the contrast between those who far off from and those connected to the Almighty.


Closing Questions

Before I go, I want to answer a few questions. These are my opinions, based on my time studying under various teachers and while I try to set aside any commentaries while examining each aliyah, I will allow myself to bring some back in for this section. I will disclose where I am getting these ideas where relevant.

1. Did Moses mix up his hand and staff?

2. Why did Moses pray for Pharaoh?

3. Did Pharaoh lose free choice?


That concludes my journey through Bo for the year 5783.

I hope these words have been a blessing to you.

May our Heavenly Father give you peace and joy.

This is Matthew and I am Walking In Liberty.

Let’s Study 5783 Bo

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Bo (“Come”) recounts the last three plagues that God inflicts on the Egyptians: locusts, darkness, and death of firstborns. God commands the Israelites to offer a Passover lamb sacrifice. After the last plague, Pharaoh and the Egyptians demand that the Israelites leave.

In the Haftorah, Jeremiah tells how Nebuchadnezzar will overpower and punish Egypt.

In the Apostolics, Messiah is found to be dead before his bones can be broken, which eludes to the Paschal lamb in Exodus 12:46.

The third portion of the book of Shemot/Exodus is Bo, which means “Come.” This is the fifteenth Torah Portion.

TORAH: Exodus 10:1-13:16

HAFTORAH: Jeremiah 46:13-28

APOSTOLES: John 19:31-37

Chabad has wonderful resources for studying the weekly Torah Portion

You can read or listen to the portions through FFOZ’s Torah Portion site.

#GoStudy #ChayeiSarah #Sarah #Issac #Rebekkah #Bible #BibleStudy #TorahPortion

Where are the Other Tribes? – 5783 Va’era Aliyah by Aliyah

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There is a commandment given to Israel that once every 7 years, during the Festival of Sukkot, they should assemble ALL the people to hear the Torah read to them. (Deuteronomy 31:10-12). Chazal (a Hebrew acronym that means, “our sages of blessed memory”) instituted a continuous cycle of reading the Torah. They defined weekly sections so that Jews would be reading and hearing Torah every single week and complete the 5 Books of Moses in a set time. The teachers I learned under taught me to follow the yearly Torah cycle and I discovered that Chabad divides their Torah study into daily aliyot. When the Torah portion is read in its entirety on Shabbat in the synagogue, there are seven sections, seven aliyot. The Chabad tradition is to study one aliyah each day, starting Sunday and going through to Shabbat. One who does this can get a double dose of the same Torah Portion each week.

Additionally, the Ashkenazic and Sepharidc, that is Eastern European and Spanish or Iberian Peninsula communities sometime differ on how they divide the Torah Portions.


This week’s Torah Portion is Va’era: Exodus 6:2-9:35. The focus of this “Aliyah by Aliyah” will be the second aliyah.

Aliyah 2 – Exodus 6:14-28

Exodus 6:14 These were the heads of their families: the sons of Re’uven the firstborn of Isra’el were Hanokh, Pallu, Hetzron and Karmi. These were the families of Re’uven.

EXO 6:14

The Tribes of Israel are directly connected to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. They are heirs to the promises and their slavery and redemption were told to Abraham even before Isaac was born.

Exodus 6:15 The sons of Shim‘on were Y’mu’el, Yamin, Ohad, Yakhin, Tzochar and Sha’ul the son of a Kena‘ani woman. These were the families of Shim‘on.

EXO 6:15

Jacob said Simeon would be scattered in the Land of Israel. Here, we see Simeon is still an entity awaiting that destiny.

Exodus 6:16 These are the names of the sons of Levi with their descendants: Gershon, K’hat and M’rari. Levi lived to be 137 years old.

EXO 6:16

Why are we told how old Levi was when he died? We don’t get Simeon and Ruben’s ages.

Exodus 6:17 The sons of Gershon were Livni and Shim‘i, with their families.

EXO 6:17

I want to look at the Hebrew and see how similar the names Livni and Shim’i are to Levi and Simeon. It seems to me they are a jumble of each other. Is that due to the close relationship between the brothers?

Exodus 6:18 The sons of K’hat were ‘Amram, Yitz’har, Hevron and ‘Uzi’el. K’hat lived to be 133 years old.

EXO 6:18

We also learn the age of Kohath, but not his brothers Gershon or Merari. Is that because Kohath is the son of choice, like Jacob and Isaac?

Exodus 6:19 The sons of M’rari were Machli and Mushi. These were the families of Levi with their descendants.

EXO 6:19

There are 11 sons of Levi in total counted here, 3 clans or families.

Exodus 6:20 ‘Amram married Yokheved his father’s sister, and she bore him Aharon and Moshe. ‘Amram lived to be 137 years old.

EXO 6:20

Again, we get the age for Amram, like Kohath and Levi before him. I suspect this indicates he is the firstborn son as well, which indicates one of his son’s should inherit that status and responsibility as well.

Exodus 6:21 The sons of Yitz’har were Korach, Nefeg and Zikhri.

EXO 6:21

This Korah is the same cousin Korah who will lead a rebellion against Moses and Aaron years later.

Exodus 6:22 The sons of ‘Uzi’el were Misha’el, Eltzafan and Sitri.

EXO 6:22

These are the sons of Kohath’s 4th son.

Exodus 6:23 Aharon married Elisheva daughter of ‘Amminadav and sister of Nachshon, and she bore him Nadav, Avihu, El‘azar and Itamar.

EXO 6:23

Aaron has 4 sons just like his father. Elisheva is from the Tribe of Judah, her brother Amminadav is the prince of Judah.

Exodus 6:24 The sons of Korach were Asir, Elkanah and Avi’asaf. These were the Korchi families.

EXO 6:24

Some of the Psalms were written by Korah’s sons.

Exodus 6:25 El‘azar the son of Aharon married one of the daughters of Puti’el, and she bore him Pinchas. These were the heads of the families of Levi, family by family.

EXO 6:25

Pinchas, or Phineas, is one of the few people to have a Torah Portion named after him.

Exodus 6:26 These are the Aharon and Moshe to whom HaShem said, “Bring the people of Isra’el out of the land of Egypt, division by division,”

EXO 6:26

This section feels like it is partly here to establish Moses and Aaron’s credentials

Exodus 6:27 and who told Pharaoh king of Egypt, to let the people of Isra’el leave Egypt. These are the same Moshe and Aharon.

EXO 6:27

I wonder why the repetition is here, to make extra sure to clarify that this  Aaron and Moses are the Aaron and Moses of the Exodus account.

Exodus 6:28 On the day when HaShem spoke to Moshe in the land of Egypt,

EXO 6:28

This is an odd verse. The verses were actually added by Christians initially and Jewish codifiers did their own numbering as well. The verse counts and distributions differ. Why did either party cause this verse to be a fragment sentence, I can not say.


Closing Questions

Before I go, I want to answer questions raised at the beginning of this session. These are my opinions, based on my time studying under various teachers and while I try to set aside any commentaries while examining each aliyah, I will allow myself to bring some back in for this section. I will disclose where I am getting these ideas where relevant.

1. Why are Ruben and Simeon in this Genealogy?

2. Why did Amram marry his aunt?

3. Where are the other Tribes?


That concludes my journey through Va’era for the year 5783.

I hope these words have been a blessing to you.

May our Heavenly Father give you peace and joy.

This is Matthew and I am Walking In Liberty.

Go Study 5783 Va’era

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Va’era (“I Appeared”) opens as G-d promises to redeem the enslaved Israelites and bring them to the Promised Land. When Pharaoh repeatedly refuses to let the Israelites go, G-d sends a series of plagues: water turning to blood, frogs, lice, wild animals, death of livestock, boils, and hail.

In the Haftorah, Ezekiel tells of the coming fall of Egypt, which will humble it and reminds Israel who their help comes from.

In the Apostolics, Messiah is accused of being an agent of the adversary.

The second portion of the book of Shemot/Exodus is Va’era, which means “I Appeared.” This is the fourteenth Torah Portion.

TORAH: Exodus 6:2-9:35

HAFTORAH: Ezekiel 28:25-29:21

APOSTOLES: Luke 11:14-22

Chabad has wonderful resources for studying the weekly Torah Portion

You can read or listen to the portions through FFOZ’s Torah Portion site.

#GoStudy #ChayeiSarah #Sarah #Issac #Rebekkah #Bible #BibleStudy #TorahPortion

Why Did Pharaoh’s Daughter Save Moses? – 5783 Shemot Aliyah by Aliyah

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There is a commandment given to Israel that once every 7 years, during the Festival of Sukkot, they should assemble ALL the people to hear the Torah read to them. (Deuteronomy 31:10-12). Chazal (a Hebrew acronym that means, “our sages of blessed memory”) instituted a continuous cycle of reading the Torah. They defined weekly sections so that Jews would be reading and hearing Torah every single week and complete the 5 Books of Moses in a set time. The teachers I learned under taught me to follow the yearly Torah cycle and I discovered that Chabad divides their Torah study into daily aliyot. When the Torah portion is read in its entirety on Shabbat in the synagogue, there are seven sections, seven aliyot. The Chabad tradition is to study one aliyah each day, starting Sunday and going through to Shabbat. One who does this can get a double dose of the same Torah Portion each week.

Additionally, the Ashkenazic and Sepharidc, that is Eastern European and Spanish or Iberian Peninsula communities sometime differ on how they divide the Torah Portions.


This week’s Torah Portion is Shemot: Exodus 1:1-6:1. The focus of this “Aliyah by Aliyah” will be the second aliyah.

Aliyah 2 – Exodus 1:18-2:10

Exodus 1:18 The king of Egypt summoned the midwives and demanded of them, “Why have you done this and let the boys live?”

EXO 1:18

How depraved is it that Pharaoh ordered midwives, women whose job it is to help mother and child come through the birth process healthy and whole, to betray that trust and murder the male children?

Exodus 1:19 The midwives answered Pharaoh, “It’s because the Hebrew women aren’t like the Egyptian women — they go into labor and give birth before the midwife arrives.”

EXO 1:19

This seems like a poor answer. Why didn’t Pharaoh tell them to do the vile act after they arrived late?

Exodus 1:20 Therefore G-d prospered the midwives, and the people continued to multiply and grow very powerful.

EXO 1:20

I like that these women are blessed for deceiving a murderous tyrant!

Exodus 1:21 Indeed, because the midwives feared G-d, he made them founders of families.

EXO 1:21

This verse clarifies that the midwives lied to Pharaoh.

Exodus 1:22 Then Pharaoh gave this order to all his people: “Every boy that is born, throw in the river; but let all the girls live.”

EXO 1:22

I felt sympathy for the Egyptians being afflicted by plagues, but it would not surprise me that the reason all Egypt suffered is because the common people participated in Pharaoh’s infanticide.

Exodus 2:1 A man from the family of Levi took a woman also descended from Levi as his wife.

EXO 2:1

We later learn that these two are Amram and Yocheved. Why withhold their names now? Is it significant that they both come from Levi.

Exodus 2:2 When she conceived and had a son, upon seeing what a fine child he was, she hid him for three months.

EXO 2:2

What does “a fine child” mean? What would she have done if he was not so great?

Exodus 2:3 When she could no longer hide him, she took a papyrus basket, coated it with clay and tar, put the child in it and placed it among the reeds on the riverbank.

EXO 2:3

Did Yocheved count on whoever found her baby not guessing him a Hebrew?

Exodus 2:4 His sister stood at a distance to see what would happen to him.

EXO 2:4

How fast and far did the basket move that youg Miriam could track it?

Exodus 2:5 The daughter of Pharaoh came down to bathe in the river while her maids-in-attendance walked along the riverside. Spotting the basket among the reeds, she sent her slave-girl to get it.

EXO 2:5

Did Yocheved arrange for Pharaoh’s daughter to find her baby?

Exodus 2:6 She opened it and looked inside, and there in front of her was a crying baby boy! Moved with pity, she said, “This must be one of the Hebrews’ children.”

EXO 2:6

And yes, sure enough, Pharaoh’s daughter figured out he was Hebrew

Exodus 2:7 At this point, his sister said to Pharaoh’s daughter, “Would you like me to go and find you one of the Hebrew women to nurse the baby for you?”

EXO 2:7

Was Miriam out of place here? Pharaoh’s daughter seems to have no problem with a slave girl being so close to where she was bathing

Exodus 2:8 Pharaoh’s daughter answered, “Yes, go.” So the girl went and called the baby’s own mother.

EXO 2:8

Pharaoh’s daughter had no milk to give the baby so she had to find a wetnurse for him.

Exodus 2:9 Pharaoh’s daughter told her, “Take this child away, and nurse it for me, and I will pay you for doing it.” So the woman took the child and nursed it.

EXO 2:9

What a blessing that Yocheved was hired to nurse her own son!

Exodus 2:10 Then, when the child had grown some, she brought him to Pharaoh’s daughter; and she began to raise him as her son. She called him Moshe [pull out], explaining, “Because I pulled him out of the water.”

EXO 2:10

How long did Moses stay with Yocheved?


Closing Questions

Before I go, I want to answer questions raised at the beginning of this session. These are my opinions, based on my time studying under various teachers and while I try to set aside any commentaries while examining each aliyah, I will allow myself to bring some back in for this section. I will disclose where I am getting these ideas where relevant.

1. Why did Pharaoh believe the Hebrew Midwives?

2. Did Yocheved plan Moses’ salvation?

3. Why did Pharaoh’s daughter save Moses?


That concludes my journey through Shemot for the year 5783.

I hope these words have been a blessing to you.

May our Heavenly Father give you peace and joy.

This is Matthew and I am Walking In Liberty.

Go Study Shemot 5783

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Shemot (“Names”) is the first Torah reading in the Book of Exodus. It opens describing the enslavement of the Israelites in Egypt. Moses is born, placed in a basket on the Nile, and adopted into Pharaoh’s household. He later encounters G-d at a burning bush and begins his mission of demanding that Pharoah let the Israelites go.

In the Haftorah, Isaiah tells of a future redemption when Israel will be saved from the internal Egypt that holds them captive until today.

In the Apostolics, Matthew tells of the Magi who come seeking the Messiah, the King of the Jews.

The first portion of the book of Shemot/Exodus is Shemot, which means “Names.” This is the thirteenth Torah Portion.

TORAH: Shemot 1:1-6:1

HAFTORAH: Isaiah 27:6-28:13, 29:22-23

APOSTLES: Matthew 2:1-12

Chabad has wonderful resources for studying the weekly Torah Portion

You can read or listen to the portions through FFOZ’s Torah Portion site.

#GoStudy #ChayeiSarah #Sarah #Issac #Rebekkah #Bible #BibleStudy #TorahPortion

Why Was Jacob Blind? – 5783 Vayechi Aliyah by Aliyah

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There is a commandment given to Israel that once every 7 years, during the Festival of Sukkot, they should assemble ALL the people to hear the Torah read to them. (Deuteronomy 31:10-12). Chazal (a Hebrew acronym that means, “our sages of blessed memory”) instituted a continuous cycle of reading the Torah. They defined weekly sections so that Jews would be reading and hearing Torah every single week and complete the 5 Books of Moses in a set time. The teachers I learned under taught me to follow the yearly Torah cycle and I discovered that Chabad divides their Torah study into daily aliyot. When the Torah portion is read in its entirety on Shabbat in the synagogue, there are seven sections, seven aliyot. The Chabad tradition is to study one aliyah each day, starting Sunday and going through to Shabbat. One who does this can get a double dose of the same Torah Portion each week.

Additionally, the Ashkenazic and Sepharidc, that is Eastern European and Spanish or Iberian Peninsula communities sometime differ on how they divide the Torah Portions.


This week’s Torah Portion is Vayigash: Genesis 44:18-47:27. The focus of this “Aliyah by Aliyah” will be the second aliyah.

Aliyah 2 – Genesis 48:10-16

Genesis 48:10 Now Isra’el’s eyes were dim with age, so that he could not see. Yosef brought his sons near to him, and he kissed them and embraced them.

GEN 48:10

When Jacob came to his father to deceitfully take the blessing of the Firstborn, Isaac was blind.

Genesis 48:11 Isra’el said to Yosef, “I never expected to see even you again, but G-d has allowed me to see your children too!”

GEN 48:11

Isaac never physically saw his grandchildren through Jacob, though he was able to be with them for some time before his death. Jacob had a relationship with all his grandchildren and saw them all, even Joseph’s sons, before he became unable to see.

Genesis 48:12 Yosef brought them out from between his legs and prostrated himself on the ground.

GEN 48:12

The boys would have been young men of at most 27 and 28 years men by the time Jacob died at 147. He would have met them 17 years prior to that when they were perhaps 9 and 10 years old. Why would the Torah describe them as if they were hiding like little children between their father, Joseph’s legs?

Genesis 48:13 Then Yosef took them both, Efrayim in his right hand toward Isra’el’s left hand and M’nasheh in his left hand toward Isra’el’s right hand, and brought them near to him.

GEN 48:13

I wonder if Joseph favored Menasheh or if he sought to avoid sibling rivalry like he had experienced by presenting them so that Jacob would bless the older with the greater blessing, presumably the blessing of the Firstborn like the one Jacob had seized for himself.

Genesis 48:14 But Isra’el put out his right hand and laid it on the head of the younger one, Efrayim, and put his left hand on the head of M’nasheh — he intentionally crossed his hands, even though M’nasheh was the firstborn.

GEN 48:14

Why is Jacob blessing one of Joseph’s sons as Firstborn at all? Why isn’t Joseph blessing them? Shouldn’t Jacob bless one of his 12 sons as Firstborn instead, maybe even Joseph?

Genesis 48:15 Then he blessed Yosef: “The G-d in whose presence my fathers Avraham and Yitz’chak lived, the G-d who has been my own shepherd all my life long to this day,

GEN 48:15

So he is blessing Joseph, by blessing Joseph’s sons. Is that right?

Genesis 48:16 the angel who has rescued me from all harm, bless these boys. May they remember who I am and what I stand for, and likewise my fathers Avraham and Yitz’chak, who they were and what they stood for. And may they grow into teeming multitudes on the earth.”

GEN 48:16

Who is this angel? Isn’t it the LORD? Why call the Almighty a Messenger or Agent, instead of the LORD himself?


Closing Questions

Before I go, I want to answer questions raised at the beginning of this session. These are my opinions, based on my time studying under various teachers and while I try to set aside any commentaries while examining each aliyah, I will allow myself to bring some back in for this section. I will disclose where I am getting these ideas where relevant.

1. Why was Jacob blind?

2. Why are the boys treated so young?

3. Why did Jacob bless Joseph’s sons?


That concludes my journey through Vayechi for the year 5783.

I hope these words have been a blessing to you.

May our Heavenly Father give you peace and joy.

This is Matthew and I am Walking In Liberty.

Go Study Vayechi 5783

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Vayechi (“He Lived”) is the final Torah portion in the Book of Genesis. It opens as Jacob prepares for his death, making his son Joseph swear to bury him in the Cave of Machpelah. Jacob blesses Joseph’s two sons and his own 12 sons and then dies. Jacob’s sons bury him. The portion ends with Joseph’s death.

In the Haftorah, David exhorts his son Solomon to prove his manliness by keeping the Torah faithfully.

In the Apostolic portion, Messiah washes the Disciples’ feet and orders them to love one another.

The twelfth portion of the book of Beresheet/Genesis is Vayechi, which means “He Lived.” This is the 12th Torah Portion.

TORAH: Genesis 47:28-50:26

HAFTORAH: 1 Kings 2:1-12

APOSTLES: John 13:1-19

Chabad has wonderful resources for studying the weekly Torah Portion

You can read or listen to the portions through FFOZ’s Torah Portion site.

#GoStudy #ChayeiSarah #Sarah #Issac #Rebekkah #Bible #BibleStudy #TorahPortion

Does Heaven Matter? – 5783 Vayigash Aliyah by Aliyah

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There is a commandment given to Israel that once every 7 years, during the Festival of Sukkot, they should assemble ALL the people to hear the Torah read to them. (Deuteronomy 31:10-12). Chazal (a Hebrew acronym that means, “our sages of blessed memory”) instituted a continuous cycle of reading the Torah. They defined weekly sections so that Jews would be reading and hearing Torah every single week and complete the 5 Books of Moses in a set time. The teachers I learned under taught me to follow the yearly Torah cycle and I discovered that Chabad divides their Torah study into daily aliyot. When the Torah portion is read in its entirety on Shabbat in the synagogue, there are seven sections, seven aliyot. The Chabad tradition is to study one aliyah each day, starting Sunday and going through to Shabbat. One who does this can get a double dose of the same Torah Portion each week.

Additionally, the Ashkenazic and Sepharidc, that is Eastern European and Spanish or Iberian Peninsula communities sometime differ on how they divide the Torah Portions.


The focus of this “Aliyah by Aliyah” will be the second aliyah of the Torah Portion: Vayigash: Genesis 44:18-47:27

Aliyah 2 – Genesis 44:31-45:7

Genesis 44:31 when he sees that the boy isn’t with us, he will die; and your servants will bring the gray hair of your servant our father down to Sh’ol with grief.

GEN 44:31

Sheol is the Grave. The Torah is so focused on life that it is difficult to derive a working theory of an afterlife from it. This line could be mistranslated to say that Jacob will be sent to “hell” with grief.

Genesis 44:32 For your servant himself guaranteed his safety; I said, ‘If I fail to bring him to you, then I will bear the blame before my father forever.’

GEN 44:32

Traditional Jewish commentary which holds a belief in the afterlife (Olam HaBa, literally “the World to Come”) says that Judah had offered to give up his place in the World to Come if he failed to protect Benjamin.

Genesis 44:33 Therefore, I beg you, let your servant stay as a slave to my lord instead of the boy, and let the boy go up with his brothers.

GEN 44:33

The love and sacrifice Judah is showing for his Father’s favored brother is a beautiful and potent reversal of what happened with Joseph.

Genesis 44:34 For how can I go up to my father if the boy isn’t with me? I couldn’t bear to see my father so overwhelmed by anguish.”

GEN 44:34

One could uncharitbaly say that Judah did this for himslef, but he shows tremendous love and concern for his Father, even if it isn’t directly said that he loves Benjamin and will act for his sake. Does that distinction matter?

Genesis 45:1 At last Yosef could no longer control his feelings in front of his attendants and cried, “Get everybody away from me!” So no one else was with him when Yosef revealed to his brothers who he was.

GEN 45:1

Why is it important that Joseph was alone with his brothers when he revealed himself? Is this a prophetic clue about the future?

Genesis 45:2 He wept aloud, and the Egyptians heard, and Pharaoh’s household heard.

GEN 45:2

Why is it important to mention how severe and loud his weeping was?

Genesis 45:3 Yosef said to his brothers, “I am Yosef! Is it true that my father is still alive?” His brothers couldn’t answer him, they were so dumbfounded at seeing him.

GEN 45:3

It seems that Yosef still lacked some trust in his brothers. Did he not believe them earlier when they said Jacob still lived?

Genesis 45:4 Yosef said to his brothers, “Please! Come closer.” And they came closer. He said, “I am Yosef, your brother, whom you sold into Egypt.

GEN 45:4

It is interesting that he says they sold him into Egypt when they didn’t do it fully or with that specific intent, but they did start the chain of events. Is that a moral warning to be careful of our actions?

Genesis 45:5 But don’t be sad that you sold me into slavery here or angry at yourselves, because it was G-d who sent me ahead of you to preserve life.

GEN 45:5

Even though their intention was evil, Joseph does not hold it against them because it was part of the Almighty’s plan.

Genesis 45:6 The famine has been over the land for the last two years, and for yet another five years there will be neither plowing nor harvest.

GEN 45:6

I wonder how long the whole back and forth ideal took.

Genesis 45:7 G-d sent me ahead of you to ensure that you will have descendants on earth and to save your lives in a great deliverance.

GEN 45:7

Somehow Joseph’s suffering was for the sake of the Children of Israel, to bless than and save them.


Closing Questions

Before I go, I want to answer questions raised at the beginning of this session. These are my opinions, based on my time studying under various teachers and while I try to set aside any commentaries while examining each aliyah, I will allow myself to bring some back in for this section. I will disclose where I am getting these ideas where relevant.

1. Does Heaven Matter?

2. Is Hell Jewish?

3. Who Does Judah Love?


That concludes my journey through Vayigash for the year 5783.

I hope these words have been a blessing to you.

May our Heavenly Father give you peace and joy.

This is Matthew and I am Walking In Liberty.