Kenneth Cohen

Fatherly Advice

The final Parsha of the Book of Bereishit is called, סתומה, or sealed. It is the only place in the entire where one Torah portion for one week, does not have a separation in the Torah scroll.

The explanation for this is that Yakov Avinu wanted to reveal many things to his children before his death, but it was sealed for him. He was not permitted to tell some of the things that he intended to tell. Most notably, he was going to describe the Messianic period, but could not.

There is a message to be learned here for parents. We try very hard to protect our children so that their lives will be easier than ours. We want them to learn from our mistakes, and we hope that they will surpass whatever we have achieved in this world.

But there are some things that we do not reveal. These are the lessons that they must learn for themselves. It might be that even if we try to tell them things, they won’t listen, anyways. Or, they want to go with their own instincts, for good or for bad.

The Rabbis tell us that just as we have a responsibility to say that which will be heard, we also have a responsibility not to say, what will not be heard.

Yakov may not have been able to disclose the “end of days.” But he did manage to give some serious rebuke to his sons before his death.

We must pray for the wisdom to know how to reach our children. We must never stop showing them that there is a correct path to take in life. And with a combination of love and rebuke, we will follow the example of Yakov Avinu.

About the Author
Rabbi Cohen has been a Torah instructor at Machon Meir, Jerusalem, for over twenty years while also teaching a Talmud class in the Shtieblach of Old Katamon. Before coming to Israel, he was the founding rabbi of Young Israel of Century City, Los Angeles. He recently published a series of Hebrew language-learning apps, which are available at