Our sedra is called ‘Vayechi’(‘and he lived), whilst it is the sedra in which Yaakov dies. A coincidence? Ironic? Not quite. The gemarra (Ta’anis 5b) tells us that ‘Yaakov Avinu did not die.’ This means that the legacy that Yaakov imbued within us lives on - the imprint of his status as Avinu (our father) remains part of us to this very day. Indeed, this is true of all of the Avos; they all implanted within us certain traits - as the Ru’ach Chaim on Avos (5:3) points out. Thus, it’s no coincidence that Jews from all walks of life still perform a bris milah and give charity generously; for these are the genes that we received from Avraham Avinu. And Jews of all walks of life pray to God (go look at the Kotel); genes we received from Yitzchak Avinu. Similarly, Jews from all backgrounds have a certain connection to Torah; even if the Jew has not experienced nor learnt Torah, he is always happy to hear what the Torah has to say about life. This is part of what we inherited from Yaakov Avinu. Coming back to our initial observation, this is why the sedra of Yaakov’s death is called ‘and he lived’ - for he lives on. In fact, the same is true of parshas Chayei Sarah (lit. ‘the life of Sarah’) - the parsha in which Sarah dies.
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