Vayechi: You Can’t Always Get What You Want

In this week’s parsha (Torah portion) Vayechi, Yaakov (Jacob) is about to die. Before he leaves this world he gives each of his children a bracha (a blessing). However, as we read through the parsha, some of the blessings, do not seem like blessings at all. They seem more like critiques.

What is going on here? Usually a blessing in the Torah is not necessarily something you want, but rather, something you need. As the Rolling Stones sing, “You can’t always get what you want… but if you try sometimes, you just might find, you get what you need.”

How often in life are we in pursuit of what we want or what we think we want rather than what we need? Need, is an interesting term. There are physical, financial, health and many other types of practical needs in our lives. These are important necessities of our lives. Then there are the needs of the soul. What we need to work on ourselves spiritually and ethically as people.

Ultimately what Yaakov is blessing his children and by extension all of us is that we all receive the spiritual blessings we need to help us to cleave to God and to become compassionate and kind people.