B’nai Yisrael ~ The Week's End (December 28, 2023)
Dec 28th 2023

In this week’s Torah reading, Jacob calls his children together to tell them the future: Heasfu, v’agidah et lakhen yet asher yikrah etkhem b’akharit hayamim – Gather together and I will tell you what will be at the end of time. But in the verses that follow there are no predictions or prophecies. Nistam mimenu hakeytz, say the commentaries, “the end of hidden from him.” Jacob who at one time could see angels ascending and descending, can now see nothing.

The Talmud (Pesahim 56b) says he turns to his children and asks what will be with them? Will they take on the tradition of their ancestors? And they respond to their father, who is also known as Yisrael:

Shema Yisrael, A-donai Elokeynu, A-donai Echad. Listen Yisrael, we know who we are, A-donai is our God, A-donai alone.

Note the play on words. In this telling Yisrael is Jacob, their father.

Each Shabbat, as we take the Torah from the Ark, we echo that very same commitment. For us, it is a prayer by which we proclaim that we too are B’nai Yisrael, truly children of Israel, true to the teachings of our ancient ancestral tradition.