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Three passages from this week's Torah portion‏‏

חזק חזק ונתחזק

Translation by Yehoshua Siskin

Mazal tov. On Shabbat we will finish reading the book of Genesis. The first book of the Chumash (Five Books of Moses) ends with the separation of Ya'akov from his sons and grandsons and the wonderful blessings -- whose words have endured until today -- that he bestows upon them.
"May the angel who redeemed me from all harm bless the youths, and may they be called by my name and the name of my fathers, Avraham and Yitzchak, and may they multiply abundantly like fish, in the midst of the land." This is the blessing Ya'akov gives to his grandsons, Ephraim and Menashe. They are the sons of Yosef who were born and grew up in Egypt. This blessing is meant for them and every future generation. Ya'akov is saying that no matter where we may end up -- in Egypt, London, or Manhattan, in Jerusalem or Tel Aviv -- we should act in a manner consistent with his values, as passed along to him from Avraham and Yitzchak, so that we should be recognized as their descendants.
"A charming son is Yosef, a son charming to the eye." The expression "bli ayin hara" -- literally, "without the evil eye," a wish that nothing bad will happen -- comes from here. Our commentators relate that the evil eye had no power over Yosef HaTzadik. Why? Because he had a good eye. He looked at everything in a positive way, connecting to everyone around him and bettering their lives. Even after his brothers cast him into a pit, even after he was thrown into prison, he tried to see the good. Ultimately, Yosef enjoyed great success, eschewing negativity and thus gaining immunity to the evil eye.
"All these are the twelve tribes of Israel, and this is what their father spoke to them and blessed them; each man, according to his blessing, he blessed them." Here, at the conclusion of the blessings, the words "each man, according to his blessing" are highly significant. Each person has their own personal blessing, their own special mission in the world. 12 tribes, unified but different. Just before he passes away, this is the will Ya'akov leaves to his sons and to us.
And, in the words that are customarily proclaimed at the conclusion of each book of the Chumash: Chazak, chazak, v'nitchazek; be stong, be strong, and let us strengthen one another. Shabbat shalom.


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