The taste of Shabbat – Vayechi 5778
Rav Mordechai Elon
Our parsha begins with two subjects: Yaacov, who is near the end of his life, calls for his son Yosef, and commands him to bury him in Maarat Hamachpela. Afterwards Yosef brings his two sons, Menashe and Ephraim, who Yaacov blesses. First, he defines them as tribes:
וְעַתָָּ֡ה שְנֵֵֽי בָנֶֶ֩יךֶ֩ הַנֵֽוֹלָדִִ֨ים לְךָ֜ בְאֶֶ֣רֶץ מִצְרַַ֗יִם עַד בֹּאִִ֥י אֵלֶֶ֛יך מִצְרַַ֖יְמָה לִי הֵֵ֑ם אֶפְרִַ֨יִם֙ וּמְנַשֶֶּׁ֔ה כִרְאוּבִֵ֥ן וְשִמְעַ֖וֹן יֵֽהְיוּ לִֵֽי.
And now, your two sons, who were born to you in the land of Egypt, until I came to you, to the land of Egypt they are mine. Ephraim and Manashe shall be mine like Reuven and Shimon. Yaacov asks them to be brought closer, and in the middle of speaking about them says a seemly-unconnected sentence
וֵַֽאֲנִֶ֣י בְבֹּאִֶ֣י מִפַדַָ֗ן מֵֶ֩תָהֶ֩ עלִַ֨י רָחֵָ֜ל בְאֶֶ֤רֶץ כְנִַ֨עַן֙ בַדֶֶּׁ֔רֶךְ בְעִ֥וֹד כִבְרַת אֶַ֖רֶץ לָבֶ֣אֹּ אֶפְרֵָ֑תָה וֵָֽאֶקְבְרֶֶ֤הָ שָם֙ בְדֶֶ֣רֶךְ אֶפְרֶָּׁ֔ת הִַ֖וא בִֵ֥ית לֵָֽחֶם.
As for me, when I came from Padan, Rachel died to me in the land of Canaan on the way, when there was still a stretch of land to come to Efrat, and I buried her there on the way to Efrat, which is Bet Lechem I will ask two questions that share the same answer, and will give us insight not just into this verse, but also into the whole parsha.