This episode of The Original Torah Pearls is on the Torah portion of Vayechi (Genesis 47:28-50:26). In the final Genesis portion, Gordon provides the cultural and geographical significance of the blessings to the 12 tribes. We learn the special inheritance given to the Levites, why their descendants are still traceable, why Reuben’s portion went to Joseph’s sons, and the significance of the “right hand.” From Jacob’s insistence that Joseph “swear” to him, we learn that the patriarchs knew God’s name and how to use it.
While Jacob’s artful use of the Hebrew poetic form is soul-stirringly beautiful in the original language, it leaves us with some guesswork in English. Gordon takes us on a literary tour of the quadruple alliterations, the sophisticated triple-plays on words, the dropped prepositions, and the use of rare words (or common words with rare connotations) that could be translated in wildly different ways. Other word studies include: “blessing,” “Shechem,” “Shiloh,” “gathered to his people,” the rare context of “angel,” and the unique structure of the name “Issachar.”
In closing, Gordon pronounces the traditional Sabbath blessing—“May you be like Ephraim and Manasseh”—and encourages listeners to receive from Yehovah—as a child at his knee with his hand on our head.