In this week's portion, Vayehi, we spend time with Jacob on his deathbed, listening as he exhorts Joseph to bury him in the Cave of Machpelah and watching as he offers final blessings to his grandsons and to his sons. At the end of the portion, which is also the end of the book of Bereshit, Joseph -- by now an old man -- seeks a promise that someday when God takes note of the Israelites, they will bring his bones with them out of Egypt.
These parallel promises caught my attention, and sparked this week's d'var at Radical Torah. Here's a taste:
Surely Joseph impressed his instruction upon his descendants because he wanted to be brought out of Egypt. But maybe he also impressed it upon them because he didn’t want them to suffer the sadness of being distant from their history. If they had left their ancestors’ bones behind, that would have been just one more excuse for them to bemoan their departure, to wish they had never left. They might have felt impossibly lonely, disconnected not only from the only home they had ever known but also from those they had buried there. Carrying his bones allowed them to feel they were bringing their history — their story — with them on the journey toward unknown freedom.
Read the whole thing here: Carrying our bones.