Vayechi – Hamalach Hagoeil X-To Be Young Again
“May the angel who redeems me from all evil bless the lads, and may my name be declared upon them, and the names of my forefathers Abraham and Isaac, and may they proliferate
abundantly like fish within the land.” (Genesis 48:16)
Like fish: Just as fish live in the water, yet when one single drop comes down from on high, they receive it thirstily like someone who has never tasted water in their life, so too Israel. They live in water -the Torah-, yet when they hear a new Torah insight, they receive it thirstily, like someone who has never heard a word of Torah in their life. (Bereishit Rabah 97:3)
By comparing Israel to fish, Jacob expresses the hope that Torah will never get stale for his descendants.
The angel’s blessing is in fact for the lads to remain lads. Indeed, the Zohar defines a “Naar” as someone who is capable of constant renewal; someone who approaches Torah as always new and exiting, someone who thirsts for wisdom and never becomes jaded.
Perhaps, the evil from which the angel is redeeming us from is the pitfall of apathy. By blessing us as lads, he is inspiring us to stay young; to embrace every day of our life with enthusiasm and anticipation for all the opportunities to come; to be filled with an overwhelming feeling of elation every time we open a book of Torah, and to experience awe every time we are exposed to a new idea.
We recite the “Hamalach Hagoeil” right before going to sleep. We hope that the following morning, as our soul is returned to us, we will wake up with a renewed sense of excitement for what we have yet to learn, to grow and change. We pray that we get to be young again.