In this week’s portion, the power of blessing is again in focus. Jacob, now reunited with Joseph, sees his life ending and the theme of the portion revolves around blessing of children and grand-children. Beginning in Genesis 48, we observe these blessings. This section has importance for us as we age, for it allows us to contemplate something that many of us are now beginning to think about: what shall we leave behind of us that has real meaning? What shall our children and grand-children take of us into their future?
This issue emerged again in some detail during a recent visit to Beth El in Boca Raton, FL. In a discussion on end of life issues and another one on meaning in aging, the group touched on this issue of legacy. They were aware of the concept of the Ethical Will and that its’ foundations within Judaism emerged from this week’s Torah reading. It was an interesting moment. We rarely think about this legacy issue, yet, let me suggest that its’ importance grows as we age.
The idea of blessing is key. More valuable than anything material is the spiritual endowment that we leave behind. One gentleman during this weekend ashamed with me the fact that he wrote a letter to each of his grand-children as they entered college outlining his hopes and wishes for them and letting them know the life lessons he learned and wished to pass on. What a gift! What blessing!. Maybe that is why some congregations are now engaging in the development of Ethical Will seminars and discussions.
This portion opens the door for these discussions and serves as another reminder of the power of blessing and the need to look at our life in terms of what we wish to leave to those who will come after us. May we have the strength to be a blessing to them and to the world.
Rabbi Richard F Address
Rabbi Richard F. Address, D.Min, is the Founder and Director of www.jewishsacredaging.com. Rabbi Address served for over three decades on staff of the Union for Reform Judaism; first as a Regional Director and then, beginning in 1997, as Founder and Director of the URJ’s Department of Jewish Family Concerns and served as a specialist and consultant for the North American Reform Movement in the areas of family related programming. Rabbi Address was ordained from Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion in 1972 and began his rabbinic career in Los Angeles congregations. He also served as a part time rabbi for Beth Hillel in Carmel, NJ while regional director and, after his URJ tenure, served as senior rabbi of Congregation M’kor Shalom in Cherry Hill, NJ from 2011-2014.