Sometimes, you just want to go home.
This week, in parasha Vayechi, we read about the last days of Jacob. He has had a hard life.
Jacob lived his early years in fear of his “evil twin” Esau, who resents Jacob for stealing his birthright. He worked seven years for Laban to earn the right to marry his beloved Rachel, then was tricked by being married to her sister, Leah, instead. He was allowed to marry Rachel, but had to work for Laban another seven years. Then he worked six more years to build up his flocks enough to support his family. During the entire 20 years, his father-in-law treated him poorly and dishonestly changed his wages.
Jacob’s sons grew up and his favorite, Joseph, did not get along with his older brothers. One day, Joseph left home to check on his brothers who were tending the flocks of sheep, and he suddenly disappeared without a trace. Jacob thought Joseph was dead. After more than 20 years Jacob learns that Joseph is alive and running Egypt. To avoid the famine raging throughout the region, Jacob goes to Egypt to live with Joseph and his other sons, but has to leave the land that God has promised to his father and grandfather.
Now, after living to the age of 147, Jacob has one request of his son, Joseph, the powerful first minister to Pharaoh: He wants to be buried in Canaan, in the Cave of Machpelah that Abraham purchased as a last resting place for Sarah and their family. This final journey is so important to Jacob that he does more than ask Joseph to promise to do it, he makes Joseph swear to do it.
At the end of his own life, Joseph also asks that his body be returned to Israel, a request that Moses fulfills.
We all feel the same thing. No matter what adventures we’ve had on a hike, regardless of how much fun we’ve had camping, at the end of the day, we love to go home. Scouting’s founder Lord Baden-Powell felt the same way. On his tombstone is a simple symbol – a circle with a dot in the middle. Baden-Powell Tombstone <B> It’s the trail sign that means “I have gone home.”
Next week we begin the book of Shemos (Exodus), the story of our people’s long journey home to the Land of Israel. Join us on this important trip.
© Nelson R. Block 2013