Each Family Has A Mission In This World: Vayechi Discussion Guide
Each Family Has A Mission In This World: Vayechi Discussion Guide
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This guide for connection and discussion is provided through a collaborative relationship with www.ValuesandEthics.org. Intended for parents, they can be utilized by educators in formal and informal environments to connect Torah topics to children's lives in meaningful ways.

When we are angry, our vision narrows and we sometimes act in ways that would shock even ourselves in a better moment. It is hard to maintain perspective when someone or something angers or offends us. But, upon reflection we are able to look back on our actions and make changes for the future. We will not be forgiven for our regrettable actions if we do not make changes in our behavior.

Each family has a mission in the world. With reflection, you could probably write a mission statement for your family. For example, parents might work toward their children growing up to be secure, contributing members of society, ensuring that they have compassion for others and do good in the world. Everything we do while we are raising our children, large and small, contributes to this overall mission.

In our parsha this week, we find Jacob on his deathbed, offering a blessing to each of his sons. Each blessing includes a vision of that child’s future. For example, when blessing Judah, he blesses both Judah and Judah’s descendants as leaders in Israel.

A parent needn’t wait until he is on his death bed to bless his child. Every Friday night, traditional Jews offer blessings to each of their children. While there is a formula that many say, others make up their own blessing. What an interesting practice it would be to articulate weekly what you wish for your child. Mentioning a success that each child had during the week may also increase the child’s self-esteem and enjoyment of this worthwhile ritual. It’s a way of making the mission of your family explicit in the blessing of a child.

TALK TO YOUR KIDS about the kinds of blessings they enjoy now and what they might want for themselves in the future.


  • What do you think blessing means?

  • What are the blessings you enjoy in your life?

  • Do we focus enough on the things our children are doing right?

By Rabbi Dianne Cohler-Esses

Values & Ethics: Through a Jewish Lens is created by Fred and Joyce Claar to bring the wisdom of Judaism into family discussions.