Focused on the Future

Yael Eckstein  |  December 28, 2023

Black and white photo of three students looking through a microscope.

And Joseph made the Israelites swear an oath and said, “God will surely come to your aid, and then you must carry my bones up from this place.” — Genesis 50:25

Each week in synagogue, Jews read through the Torah from Genesis to Deuteronomy. The Torah portion for this week is Vayechi, which means “and he lived,” from Genesis 47:28–50:26.

In our home, vibrant colors adorn all of our walls—except for one. One wall is covered in simple white Jerusalem stone. Like most Jewish homes, we have dedicated a wall to remembering Jerusalem, as it says in Psalm 137:5, “If I forget you, Jerusalem, may my right hand forget its skill.” Until God’s city is restored and the Holy Temple is rebuilt, we dare not forget that there is work to be done on this earth.

We need to keep focused on our ultimate goals.

At the end of this week’s Torah portion, we read that Joseph gave his children specific instructions regarding his burial. However, instead of requesting burial in Canaan like his father Jacob did, Joseph told his children to bury him in Egypt and to bring his remains to Canaan only when the entire nation left Egypt.

Focused on the Future

The Jewish sages explained that Joseph’s directions were intended as a powerful message to the generations of Israelites who would live their entire lives in Egypt. He understood that while, at first, the Israelites would feel like strangers in Egypt and long to return to their homeland, they eventually would adapt to their new home and find it difficult to leave.

Joseph knew that by being buried in Egypt, while making his descendants promise to move his remains in the future, they would always remember that Egypt was not home. Joseph’s grave became a point of clarity for the Israelites. It kept them focused on the future and on their ultimate goal of returning to their home.

Sometimes in life, we set goals that are not immediately attainable. We might not have the time, energy, or funding to pursue a dream and often, the right thing to do is to put it off for a while. However, as we get busy with other things, we must ensure that we don’t lose sight of our goals.

No matter how comfortable life becomes, we can never become complacent and forget our dreams. And as people of faith, we must never stop working toward our ultimate goal—a world of peace, kindness, justice, and recognition of God.

Be a Holy Land Hero

The ultimate goal for the people of Israel is for peace in the land God promised them. Pledge to pray for peace in Jerusalem.