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Rabbi's Blog: "...Legs off the Ground" + Personal Message

12/15/2021 02:39:13 PM


Dear OZ family, 


Let’s try to picture what the last moments of life were like for the patriarch for whom our people and nation are named. Israel alighted up to his bed from which he would not descend alive and blessed his children with the predictions that would determine their futures. He knew the exile foretold to his grandfather was upon them, but must have been comforted in the knowledge that at least for the time being, they enjoyed the comforts and protections of Yosef’s leadership. It is amazing that after hundreds of years of living in a foreign country, undergoing the harshness of hatred, inhuman subjugation, and genocide, that we emerged intact ready to accept the Law from the God who had not forgotten us. For all the worries filling Yaacov’s mind, he was still surrounded by his progeny who would grow to a nation of the children of his evolved name, Israel.


The emotions must have been a whirlwind, and while prophecy eluded him during the entire time of Yosef’s 22 year absence, the Divine spirit did rest on his deathbed to the extent that was necessary for him to predict his children’s destinies as he did. Yosef remained Yosef in Egypt, as did Ephraim and Menashe, as well as the entire nation, who would many years later unflinchingly declare, “We shall do and we shall listen” at Mount Sinai. If Yaacov could fathom this, as much as he died with a heavy heart, knowing his descendants would remain in Egypt for a long time, the thought of what would follow after they would leave, must have bolstered his spirit enough to receive Divine inspiration.


We often find ourselves with conflicting emotions, due to the challenges before us, as well as the opportunities that lie ahead. When Yaacov left home for his first exile to Aram, the text reads, “Vayissa Yaacov Raglav” (Bereshit 29:1). This connotes a heavy tread, as if Yaacov had to lift each leg off the ground, with his hands, for each step. On the other hand, the Midrash also paints a picture of Yaacov as if his legs lifted him off the ground itself. The first reading renders the Hebrew, “Yaacov lifted his legs” while the second reads it as if to say, “His legs lifted Yaacov”. This may characterize Yaacov at the end of his life as well. What a privilege to depart from this world, surrounded by so many descendants, but surely he was worried by what might lie ahead. (This weekend we will also participate in the Annual NASCK TEAM Shabbos Vayechi - you can find more information HERE).


I am very happy to write that in the last two weeks, the first two of three follow-up six month appointments have gone well for the Rebbitzen and the third is this Friday. At that point we will feel, should all go well, B’ezrat Hashem, the way we did when we rang the bell after the last radiation treatment at Sloan Kettering. We really do feel all your good wishes and prayers and we very much look forward to turning the corner on this chapter. Thank you all for making it easier for us.



Stay well.  Be healthy. Be excellent

Rabbi Allen Schwartz






Rabbi Allen Schwartz

Congregation Ohab Zedek

118 West 95th Street | New York, NY  10025-6604

Phone 212.749-5150, ext 200 | Fax 212.663-3635



Mon, June 27 2022 28 Sivan 5782