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ב"ה

Speaking Greek

Friday, 17 December, 2021 - 8:10 am

I was listening to a few friends talk about the looming spread of Omicron – and it all sounded like Greek to me. I am not simply referring to the Greek alphabet that we are all slowly learning. Nor am I implying an intricate medical jargon. I am talking about the state of discourse in our society. Thanks to Twitter and Google, everyone is an expert on everything. And, everyone has an ironclad opinion.

We talk a lot. But, we seem to have forgotten much of the art of talking to and with each other. Instead, we talk at each other. Or, we simply speak in echo chambers, and slowly lose the ability to converse in language that is slightly out of our comfort zone.

Is there any hope to curing this malady?

***

I’ll leave the medicine to doctors and the policies to politicians.

However, this week’s Parsha Vayechi does shed some light on how our people can come together.

Prior to the passing of Yaakov (Jacob), he gathers all his sons to his bedside to bless him. The Torah relates:

“Jacob called for his sons and said, "Gather and I will tell you what will happen to you at the end of days.  Gather and listen, sons of Jacob, and listen to Israel, your father.”

As we read further, we see that no prophecy is given regarding the End of Days.  Instead he blesses his sons.  The Talmud clarifies that Jacob wished to reveal to his sons the end of the days (i.e., the time of the ultimate Redemption) whereupon the Divine Presence departed from him.

***

True – as the Talmud states – Yaakov did not end up revealing the time of Moshiach’s arrival.  But perhaps he still encoded in his words the formula for earning his arrival. 

Jacob's revelation to his sons about the future was in fact mentioned in those brief words of introduction. He revealed to them that their descent into Egypt, and the future exile are the results of discord and conflict.

How will they reach the era of Moshiach and the future Redemption? When they "listen to Israel" their father and recognize that they are all "sons of Jacob."  When they put aside their differences and "gather together," in unity and brotherhood, this will bring about the ultimate redemption of the Jewish people.

Yes, our opinions are profoundly expressed and dot the entire political, philosophical and human landscape.  And – as Yaakov demonstrates with the diverse blessings – this is meant to be.  When we recognize and behave in a manner that displays that we are all “sons of Jacob,” we are indeed ready for Moshiach.

Perhaps, the current challenges aren’t reason for despair. Rather, they are reason for hope and optimism that we are on the cusp of something great. All we need to do is come together.

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