Skin in the Game

Categories: Vayechi

This week’s Parsha – Vayechi – concludes the Book of Genesis, the first of the “Five Books of Moses.” Traditionally, at the end of each book, the synagogue calls out in unison, “Chazak chazak venischazek!” Which means “Be strong, be strong and may we be strengthened,” thus giving us a little inspiration and charge to move on into the next book, as well as to empower us in our own individual and collective journeys. Typically, the words themselves leading up to this should provide such inspiration, so let us look at those words in this Parsha. Jacob blesses his children and passes away; the Torah then tells how the Jews begin to settle in Egypt. Joseph instructs them to please bury him, when the time comes, in the Holy Land. Then, to conclude, Joseph passes away and is entombed (temporarily, as per his instructions) in Egypt.

Seriously? That’s it? That’s our inspiration? If this were a cliffhanger for us to immediately binge-watch season 2, then I get it. But is this somehow supposed to leave us on a high note!? Joseph asks them to do something, and they don’t. The end. Really?

No, not really. The Torah is telling us something deeper. In truth, Joseph instructed his family to bury him in the Holy Land upon their return. They were about to begin a very difficult time period through slavery, infanticide, traveling the desert and just an overall “downtime.” And yet, Joseph tells them with his dying wishes, “you should bury me in the Holy Land.” The pendulum will swing back again. His words are prophetic and reassuring: You will get out of here and leave as free folk back to the land where you belong. You don’t believe me? Temporarily entomb me in Egypt, don’t send my remains up now, because I want to be here with you in your time of hardship, so you can look to me to know that there is an end in sight. Yes, it may get really tough but there is a light at the end of that dark tunnel. So then what is the empowerment that allows us to “be strong?” It is the knowledge that we have a leader who truly has skin in the game. Joseph isn’t just promising them something and then heading to the “celestial heights.” He is remaining there with them in Egypt until they are freed. The lesson for us is to take a page from Joseph. When someone we know is going through something, sure we can send our thoughts and prayers (I don’t mean to downplay those!) but let’s really try and put ourselves in their shoes. Let’s tap into our innate leadership (we all rule over ourselves, right?) and step up to the plate for someone else: What would we want if the tables were turned? And through this lesson, may we all be strengthened and empowered to continue on our journey. Good Shabbos!

FC Friends Give Back

At FC, friends experience the benefits of giving back together and share many opportunities to spread kindness and offer support to their community. We’ve been proud to grow our connections and partnerships by accepting donations and incorporating service days into our programming to support the following organizations:

  • Kids Who Care & Teen Scene Drive:
    • Currently accepting at FC donations of winter clothes, nonperishable food items, animal shelter supplies, and toys for 412 Food Rescue, Casa San Jose, Animal Friends, South Hills Interfaith Movement and Beverly’s Birthdays
  • Teen Scene Challah Bake:
    • Challah Back to Give Back! We shared a memorable night of community, connection, and challah baking last night during this teen collaboration with representatives from FC, Repair the World, BBYO, The Second Floor, NFTY, Bnei Akiva, and NCSY
  • I-Volunteer / Friends on the Town:
    • Our FOTT joined the Federation’s Young Adults Division in December for a mitzvah day to benefit Dress for Success, writing inspirational cards for female job seekers
  • Holiday Donations for Beverly’s Birthdays:
    • We accepted items for teens throughout the month of December benefitting Beverly’s Birthdays
Click Here

Recent blog posts

Part 6: History of Fan Fiction Conclusion

TwitterFacebookLinkedinPrintemailWhat’s so important about the history of fan fiction, you may ask? Aside from possibly helping you on Jeopardy, it makes the concept seem less trivial. If fan fiction as we know it had first come to be in, say, the late 1990s instead of the 1960s, would you really look at it the same? No, and that’s just in… Read More

Read more

Part 5: ‘Creators’ Involvement’

TwitterFacebookLinkedinPrintemailIn my last post, I talked about how fan fiction is something you may hear about without actively searching for it—although frankly speaking, it’s more likely to be discussed on the Internet than in, say, a college cafeteria)—including a mention of creators’ opinions. While some creators are supportive of derivative works based on their stories and/or characters, there are some… Read More

Read more

Part 4: Fan Fiction in Popular Culture

TwitterFacebookLinkedinPrintemail It’s far from uncommon to see pop culture being referenced in everyday life, and especially common to see it referenced in other works (for instance, Marty McFly refers to Darth Vader at one point in Back to the Future). As such, it shouldn’t be surprising that the concept of fan fiction has been mentioned in ‘official’ fiction. Perhaps the… Read More

Read more