Vayechi: The Redemption Code

And Joseph said to his brothers, ‘I am dying, and G-d will deeply remember (pakod yifkod) you and he will bring you up from this land’…And Joseph took an oath with the sons of Israel saying, ‘G-d will deeply remember (pakod yifkod) you, and you will bring my bones up from here’”.

Pakod yifkod is the redemption code. G-d tells Moses to say to the Children of Israel, “I have deeply remembered (pakod pakad’ti) you,” and Rashi explains, “This sign was given in their hands, that with this wording they are redeemed”. Pekidah is a deep form of memory that brings about practical awakening, as in the first time this verb appears in the Torah, “And G-d deeply remembered (pakad) Sarah.”

If G-d deeply remembers us, we may think that we have no role to play and that we can sink into a deep slumber. But that is not true. Our actions, awakening from below, awaken G-d to act from Above. This is a main principle, in the words of the Zohar: “With awakening from below, awakening from Above is enabled.

What is the action on our part that awakens the Divine “Pakod yifkod”? We deeply remember G-d, and then G-d deeply remembers us. In other words, the Shechinah (G-d’s immanent Divine Presence) itself is with us in exile and we must deeply remember it, feel its pain and desire to redeem it. The more dedicated we are to this deep remembrance, to deeply remember the spark of G-d inside us, so G-d will deeply remember us.

This is the secret of the double wording: “Pakod yifkod”. Pakod alludes to our awakening to deeply remember G-d and yifkod alludes to G-d’s deep remembrance of us. Thus, the meaning of the verse, “Pakod yifkod Elokim etchem” is “Pakod Elokim/You deeply remember G-d – and then –Yifkod etchem/G-d will deeply remember you”.

The root pakod has many meanings in the Holy Language. It is also used to describe the inner connection between husband and wife, as in the words of the Sages, “A man is obligated to have intimate relations (lifkod) with his wife”. Thus, “G-d will deeply remember (Pakod yifkod) you” means that G-d will remember us like a husband who intimately relates to his wife. Here, it is even clearer that the perfection of this is in mutual interaction: The wife awakens toward her husband (Pakod) and the husband awakens toward his wife (Pakad’ti).

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