These and Those

Musings from Students of the Pardes Institute of Jewish Studies in Jerusalem

[PCJE Dvar Torah] Annie Gilbert – Parshat Vayechi – a Poem

Posted on December 27, 2012 by Annie Matan Gilbert

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count_your_blessingsThis week’s PCJE Dvar Torah is on Parshat Vayechi and is heavily inspired by the amazing divrei Torah of Yaffa Epstein and Jenna King-Brill at recent Pardes Night Seders. It’s also a little bit connected to this week’s learning in Ayeka, about “The Hard Stuff” in relationship with God and others.

I have been pondering themes of open-heartedness, blessings and forgiveness these past few weeks and I think this is Joseph’s answer.

For him, God was with him all along (at least in hindsight) through each test and challenge.  And through his eyes, God was even with his father, who arrived in Egypt aged and jaded because, unlike Joseph, he couldn’t see the blessings that followed him there.

My father lived a hard life for a short time

Racked with guilt and loss

Keenly aware of the pain of one betrayal after another

One fight after another

For his father’s favour

For his legacy

For his love

For his daughter’s virtue

For his favourite son

For himself


And I

I lost so much

My family

My childhood

My home

My freedom

My identity

But I do not mourn all that

For I see that God was with me

Every step

In the pit

In the caravan

In Potiphar’s house

In the dreams of a baker and a cupbearer and a pharaoh

And now, God is here

In this hall

Between my brothers

And me


So how can I find fault with their foolish actions?

How can I withhold forgiveness and favour

When I know it has been as God intended


For my father –

A birthright

A blessing from an angel

Two weddings and 13 children

His daughter returned

And now his son

Years of plenty in Egypt, surrounded by family


And for me-

A journey to become a man

With the power to save thousands

Even my foolish brothers

Even a pharaoh

And even me.