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Nelly Shulman
Nelly Shulman

Bury me not in a land of slaves

On his deathbed, Jacob asks Joseph to perform an act of חֶ֣סֶד וֶאֱמֶ֔ת. Not wanting to be buried in Egypt, he entrusts his favorite son with carrying his body back to the ancestral land.

Chizkuni here beautifully explains the meaning of chesed ve-emeth.

“Wherever we find the expression חסד ואמת, it refers to giving someone more than he is entitled to expect, or asking him to do something beyond what he is entitled to demand.”

Even in his last hours, Jacob remains humble, and while Joseph must bury his father, he is not obliged to carry his body to the cave of Machpelah.

However, Jacob’s request is even more interesting in general. Rashi explains that Jacob foresees the soil of Egypt turning into the swarming mass of lice and the pain that the body would feel rolling through the underground passages to the land of Israel at the Resurrection.

However, it is entirely plausible that Jacob, foreseeing the future, did not want to be buried in the land of slaves.

About the Author
Nelly Shulman is a journalist and writer currently based in Berlin. She is an author of four popular historical novels in the Russian language. She is working on the fifth novel in this series and on her first English-language novel, a historical thriller set during the Siege of Leningrad. She a Hawthornden Fellow and an alumna of the Nachum Goldmann Fellowship.
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