This Torah portion is unlike any other – "closed" – meaning, without a space separating it from the previous paragraph; and in the commentaries – because once Yaakov died, the eyes and hearts of the Jewish people were closed – due to the mounting pressure of the Egyptian exile. Sometimes, this is useful. In a sandstorm, closing one’s eyes and other vital organs protect a man. In the midst of a decadent society, sheltering oneself from the prevailing winds is a protection. When Yaakov was present, the influence, the holiness allowed them to be wide open to receive his power. Yaakov represents Shabbos – "the inheritance of Jacob." There are times to be closed against the world – 6 days a week – Shabbat is the time to open up; allow the kedusha to seep in. This is Shamor and Zachor – the abstention of labour causes the equal and opposite negative forces to abstain; the performance of Shabbat brings in the greatness. This was Yaakov. This is our Shabbat; a time to be unafraid, open, honest, unrestricted and free.

Wishing you and yours a wonderful Shabbos!

Rabbi Shimshon Silkin

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