The parasha for this week is Vayechi - 'and he lived' - referring to the last 17 years of Jacob's life and the reconciliation of his sons in Egypt. Jacob gives a special blessing to each of his sons as well as to Joseph's sons, Ephraim and Manasseh, the first two biblical siblings to live together in peace (this is the source for the blessing we give our children on Erev Shabbat and festivals; girls are blessed with "May you be like Sarah, Rebecca, Rachel and Leah" - the matriarchs of our people).
Blessing is not the same as praise...when we bless our children (or each other), we are, in essence, offering a prayer and support for the individual to live up to his/her full potential.
Near the beginning of the beginning (Beresheet/Genesis), the Torah shares with us the story of the first sibling rivalry ending with Cain murdering Abel. Sibling rivalries continued with Jacob and Esau and with Joseph and his brothers. Here, at the conclusion of Beresheet/Genesis, the siblings have learned to live together in peace, the family has been reconciled, and we are ready to move on to the next phase in our development as a people. The great medieval scholar, Nachmanides (not to be confused with Maimonides) once taught that everything that happened to our ancestors is a signpost for us. Change can take a long time, and in our lifetime, we have been privileged to witness the beginnings of reconciliation with Catholicism and hopefully you have experienced a level of healing in your own families and relationships. Perhaps what we learn in Parashat Vayechi will be true also of the human family - learning to reconcile and live, if not with love, then at least without conflict, and who knows - maybe one day, with love.