December 21, 2015 Israel
Each year at this time we relive the passing of Patriarch Jacob. Although the events took place about 3,700 years ago it is still sad. Each year we lose Jacob again. Each year we live through the painful goodbye.
And so Yaakov, Jacob, realizes his time has come and he takes action. He calls his son Yosef, Joseph, a powerful and important man in Egypt, and he gives his final instructions. I will not be buried in the Egypt, I must be brought back to my homeland, I must be buried with my people.
"Do not bury me in Egypt. And I will lie with my fathers, and you shall raise me up out of the land of Egypt, and bury me in their burial grounds."(Genesis, Chapter 47, verse 29-30)
Why the concern? Why does it matter so much? Why is father Jacob so concerned about what will happen after he leaves this world? He suffered so much in this life, he experienced such deep pain, such painful loss, and now he will finally be at peace, why the concern over his burial place? Why is it so important to him to be buried with his fathers?
To this very day we can visit him, our father Jacob is buried with his fathers Issac and Abraham in the "disputed" area of Hebron.
History, roots. We know who we are and we know from where we come and where we belong. We fight for the same land as did our forefathers. We live our history, we walk in their footsteps, we plant our vineyards and our olive trees where they planted theirs. We give our children the same names.
Father Jacob knew that life extends beyond his own mortal years, that he must think of the future, of us. No, being buried in the land of Egypt is not an option, he must lie with his fathers, and he must be there for his many children who would come to visit in the years ahead. He must wait for us to come from all the lands of our dispersion. He knew that Israel is our only home, and he must be buried there. He knew that we would come to visit him there, if not today, then tomorrow, and if not tomorrow then the day after, but surely it would come to pass.
We live our history. Abraham, Isaac and Jacob still walk with us, we feel their footsteps, their imprints. We live with our fathers and some day we will lie with them.
We do not live our life for ourselves alone but for those who came before us and for those who will come long after we return to dust.
No, I cannot be buried in Egypt Yaakov/Jacob tells his son Yosef/Joseph, you must promise me, you must take an oath that you shall raise me up from the land of exile and return me to our land, our home. Jacob is also called Yisrael, Israel, and today we live in the land that is called by his name. And we keep his oath, the oath that he asked Yosef to make. Bring me home!