Parashat Vayekhi / פרשת ויחי

Crop of Jacob Blessing Ephraim and Manasseh by Benjamin West


Parashat Vayekhi is the 12th weekly reading in the annual Torah reading cycle, and the 12th and final reading of Bereshit (“Genesis”). Vayekhi (וַיְחִי) is Hebrew for And He Lived and is the first word of the parashah, which begins with a record of the years of Ya’akov’s (Jacob) life, including the years he lived in Mitzrayim (Egypt).

Before his death, Ya’akov has Yosef (Joseph) swear a solemn oath pertaining to how he will be buried, which the parashah records. When Yosef hears that his father is ill, he visits him, bringing with him his two eldest sons, Menasheh (Manasseh) and Efrayim (Ephraim). Ya’akov decrees remarkable things at this time regarding to the status of these sons of Yosef in Yisrael (Israel), and the parashah records the blessing with which Ya’akov blesses them before he dies, giving Yosef pre-eminence in Yisrael and the right of the firstborn to a double-portion of the inheritance.

Parashat Vayekhi continues with a record of the blessings with which Ya’akov blessed each of his twelve sons, who his wives bore to him, blessing each of them with a blessing suitable to them. After this, the parashah records Ya’akov’s instructions to his sons pertaining to his burial, followed by his final breath, the mourning of Yosef and Mitzrayim, the burial of Ya’akov according to the instructions he gave his sons, and the great funeral procession which took place in his honour.

The parashah continues with the account of the concern of Yosef’s brothers after their father died that Yosef might finally pay them back for what they did to him, their related words and actions, and Yosef’s response. The parashah concludes with the account of Yosef’s years and death, the promise that G-d would bring them back to the Promised Land, which Yosef spoke to his brothers, as well as the oath Yosef made Bnei Yisrael (the Children of Israel) to swear concerning his body.

Torah Portion: Genesis 47:28 – 50:26

1st Aliyah: Genesis 47:28-48:9 (13 verses)
2nd Aliyah: Genesis 48:10-16 (7 verses)
3rd Aliyah: Genesis 48:17-22 (6 verses)
4th Aliyah: Genesis 49:1-18 (18 verses)
5th Aliyah: Genesis 49:19-26 (8 verses)
6th Aliyah: Genesis 49:27-50:20 (27 verses)
7th Aliyah: Genesis 50:21-26 (6 verses)
Maftir: Genesis 50:23-26 (4 verses)

Reading from the Nevi’im (Prophets):
I Kings 2:1 – 2:12

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