In this week's Parasha Vayechi, there is a huge gap in the story. Ya'akov says he will tell his children what will happen to them at the end of days. Instead of revealing the plan of the final return to Israel, he blesses them. How can we explain this gap?
Parashat Vayechi begins with a clear understanding that Yosef was (in several ways) the leader among his brothers and that he was treated like a firstborn who receives a double portion (see Bereishit 48:22). At the end of the parasha we also see that Yosef is in charge and holds the “keys to liberation.” Yet, when it comes time for Yaakov’s berachot, there is a big surprise: kingdom in Bnei Yisrael will go to the family of Yehuda in a permanent manner (see ibid. 49:10).
Our haftara deals with the instructions David gave Shlomo, including general advice and specific directives regarding how to deal with certain people. One had to do with Yoav ben Tzruya, David’s nephew and a key member of his inner circle throughout his career. The language of David’s portrayal of his grievances against Yoav is perplexing. “You are also aware of that which Yoav ben Tzruya did to me, which he did to two generals in Israel, to Avner ben Ner and Amasa ben Yeter, that he killed them and put the blood of battle within peace … he should not die in peace in old age” (Melachim I, 2:5-6).
We have been dealing, over the last few weeks, with ideas to help integrate olim from the Former Soviet Union into Israeli society as full Jews. A group with a real obstacle is children of Jewish fathers and non-Jewish mothers. They are, of course, not Jewish unless they undergo conversion. Yet, it is our opinion that we should not look at them as if they have, in the meantime, no connection to the Jewish People. The great majority were treated as Jews in the Soviet Union, where a citizen’s nationality is determined by his father, not his mother. As a result, they suffered from anti-Semitism. How shocked were many, upon arriving in Israel, to find out that halacha does not view them as Jewish and that they cannot get married here?
In Parashat Vayechi, we learn about Yaakov’s “spiritual will” – prophecies and instructions to his sons. In the haftara, we see a similar farewell address of King David to his son Shlomo. We will try to uncover part of this deep connection between the parasha and its haftara.