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Dvar Torah - Vayechi

On New Year's eve, Volodymir Zelensky posted the following New Year'smessage:'s worth a listen, but if you don't feel like you have time, he assesses the past year. He outlines the successes and the pain that Russia's brutal invasion of Ukraine brought. He speaks with justifiable pride about Ukraine's increasing prominence in the world. Above all, he expresses hope and determination that the coming year will bring victory for Ukraine and the forces of democracy.

The New Year is an excellent time to take stock and assess our achievements. What worked? What didn't? What can we do better? Perhaps most importantly, what goals do we have for our coming year? How will we know if we have succeeded?

We see another stock-taking time with Ya'akov in this week's parsha. Ya'akov knows that he will soon pass away. As such, he calls his children to give them a final blessing that will accompany them for the rest of Jewish history. However, Ya'akov's prayers are far from just an expression of hope for the future. They are a stocktake of what worked and didn't for his sons over their lives and how they can use those traits for good. For example, Levi's intense zealotry is to be channelled to a positive end by scattering his descendants among the other tribes to serve as the religious leaders. Yehuda becomes the political leader and master of the brothers because he has the force of personality to take such a position. Yossef is blessed with the most significant wealth, which seems appropriate given his demonstrated ability to husband it well.

We, too, have an opportunity at the beginning of this year to reflect and plan for the future. We have a chance to lay down markers so we can look back in twelve months on a time of success. What do you plan to accomplish this year?

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