Vayekhi (Genesis 47:28 – 50:26)

There are some moments at which people are likely to look both forward, in expectation or dread, and backward, with regret or contentment: birthdays, milestone anniversaries, and endings and beginnings more generally, of the year (secular, fiscal, school, Jewish), of one’s career, of one’s life.  Thus, the month of January is named after Janus, the Roman  god of beginnings and transitions, depicted as a two-faced god looking to both the future and the past.  And so it is appropriate that we are reading this Torah portion, full of such looking forward and backward, early in January.
 
Jacob has now spent 17 years in Egypt.  As he nears death, concerned over the future of his descendants, who are now maybe a little too comfortably settled in Goshen, he insists that he be buried in the ancestral plot (the Cave of Machpelah), as a strong reminder that his family’s real home is in Canaan, not Egypt.  (Ironically, it is Egyptian embalming technology that enables this request to be carried out.) He remembers too how he was not able to bury Rachel there, long ago, and he adopts Joseph’s sons, Ephraim and Manasseh, so that his beloved will be the matriarch of three future tribes, not two.  Jacob blesses the younger (Ephraim) before the elder (family habit) and before his death “blesses” his 12 biological sons with  individually tailored praise, chastisement (no, he hasn’t forgotten the murderous rampage of Shimon and Levi, nor how Reuven slept with Bilhah), and sometimes enigmatic prophecy.  Kind of like an employee performance review, except we get those annually, not (just) when the boss is about to leave.
 
After Jacob dies and is embalmed, grandly mourned, and buried in Canaan, all return to Egypt, the children and flocks having been left there,  Now Joseph’s older brothers fear for their future because of lingering guilt over their past.  They fear Joseph’s vengeance nearly 4 decades after they sold him, 17 years after he assured them that he held no grudge, that he had been sent to Egypt as part of a divine plan.  But the brothers apparently haven’t forgiven themselves, or each other, and so they can’t accept that Joseph has.
 
The Torah portion concludes with the death of Joseph, now a great-grandfather at 110 (BTW, the ideal lifespan in Egyptian folklore of the time).   He tells his brothers, (50:24-25) ” ‘God will surely take notice of you and bring you up from this land to the land that He promised on oath to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob.’  So Joseph made the sons of Israel swear, saying, ‘When God has taken notice of you, you shall carry up my bones from here.’ ” With this combination of reassurance and foreshadowing, Joseph dies, and the book of Genesis draws to a close.
 
Shabbat shalom,
Irene
—————————–

http://jokes.akbar99.com/4202/burial-embalming-or-cremation.html
A Choice
The lawyer cabled his client overseas: ‘Your mother-in-law passed away in her sleep. Shall we order burial, embalming or cremation?’

Back came the reply, ‘Take no chances – order all three.’
—————————–
http://dragonsfirelearning.blogspot.com/2011/09/ancient-egypt-mummy-jokes.html
Ancient Egypt Mummy Jokes

 

[“I can never figure out which part is the diaper.”]

How did brave Egyptians write?
In hero-glyphics.

Where do mummies go for a swim?
To the Dead Sea.

Why was the mummy so tense?
Because he was all wound up.

What is a mummy’s favorite type of music?
Wrap
.

How do mummies hide?
They wear masking tape.

Why did the mummy call the doctor?
Because he was coffin.

Do mummies enjoy being mummies?
Of corpse!

———————–

http://www.squidoo.com/employeeperformancereview

Employee Performance Review terms
… and what they REALLY mean

Average Employee……………………Not Too Bright
Exceptionally Well Qualified…………Made No Major Blunders Yet
Active Socially…………………….Drinks a Lot
Character above Reproach…………….Still One Step Ahead Of the Law
Quick Thinking……………………..Offers Plausible Excuses
Careful Thinker…………………….Won’t Make a Decision
Plans for Advancement……………….Buys Drinks for All the Boys
Aggressive…………………………Obnoxious
Uses Logic on Difficult Jobs…………Gets Someone Else To Do It
Expresses Themselves Well……………Speaks English
Meticulous Attention to Detail……….A Nit Picker
Has Leadership Qualities…………….Is Tall or Has A Loud Voice
Exceptionally Good Judgement…………Lucky
Keen Sense of Humour………………..Knows a Lot of Dirty Jokes
Career Minded………………………Back Stabber
Of Great Value to the Organization……Gets To Work on Time
Relaxed Attitude……………………Sleeps At Desk
Work Is First Priority………………Too Ugly To Get A Date
Independent Worker………………….Nobody Knows What He/She Does
Great Presentation Skills……………Able To
BS
Good Communication Skills……………Spends Lots of Time on Phone
Loyal……………………………..Can’t Get a Job Anywhere Else

—————————–
http://thinkexist.com/quotes/with/keyword/endings/ 
 
Beginnings and Endings – Quotes 
     “The beginnings and endings of all human undertakings are untidy.
(author not listed)

The timing of death, like the ending of a story, gives a changed meaning to what preceded it.” Mary Catherine Bateson quotes

The secret to a rich life is to have more beginnings than endings.” David Weinbaum quotes (AmericanBusinessman and Writer. )

—————————–

http://entertainment.singnet.com.sg/jokes/936176838.html.                                      

The Businessman’s Deathbed   [from 2001]
                                   
A businessman on his deathbed called his friend and said, “Bill, Iwant you to promise me that when I die you will have my remains
cremated.”
                               
“And what,” his friend asked, “do you want me to do with your ashes?”
                                   
The businessman said, “Just put them in an envelope and mail them to the Internal Revenue Service and write on the envelope, “Now you have
everything.”
—————————–

http://jokes.hotplugins.com/cgi-bin/2/jokepage1.cgi?jid=1874
As They Get Old…    This joke was supplied by Laughzone.com [From 9 years ago.]
[excerpts – there were 62 of these! – one of which is lightly edited]
 
Old accountants never die, they just lose their balance.
Old actors never die, they just drop apart.
Old bankers never die, they just lose interest.
Old basketball players never die, they just go on dribbling.
Old bookkeepers never die, they just lose their figures.
Old bosses never die, much as you want them to.
Old chauffeurs never die, they just lose their drive.
Old chemists never die, they just fail to react.
Old cooks never die, they just get deranged.
Old deans never die, they just lose their faculties.
Old doctors never die, they just lose their patience.
Old electricians never die, they just lose contact.
Old farmers never die, they just go to seed.
Old garagemen never die, they just retire.
Old hackers never die, they just go to bits.
Old journalists never die, they just get de-pressed.
Old lawyers never die, they just lose their appeal.
Old mathematicians never die, they just disintegrate.    
Old milkmaids never die, they just lose their whey.
Old rabbis never die, they just get put out to pastor.
Old musicians never die, they just get played out.
Old number theorists never die, they just get past their prime.
Old owls never die, they just don’t give a hoot.
Old photographers never die, they just stop developing.
Old pilots never die, they just go to a higher plane.
Old quarterbacks never die, they just pass away.
Old sewage workers never die, they just waste away.
Old students never die, they just get degraded.
Old tanners never die, they just go into hiding.

 

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