Parashat Vayetzei!

Dear friends;



I hope you’ll enjoy the following Parsha summary, followed by a Dvar Torah:



Jacob leaves his hometown of Bersheva and journeys to Charan. On the way, he stops at a place and sleeps there, dreaming of a ladder connecting heaven and earth, with angels climbing and descending on it; G‑d appears and promises that the land upon which he lies will be given to his descendants. In the morning, Jacob raises the stone on which he laid his head as an altar and pledging that it will be made the house of G‑d.

In Charan, Jacob stays with and works for his uncle Laban, tending Laban’s sheep. Laban agrees to give him his younger daughter, Rachel—whom Jacob loves—in marriage, in return for seven years’ of labor. But on the wedding night, Laban gives him his elder daughter, Leah, instead—a deception Jacob discovers only in the morning. Jacob marries Rachel, too, a week later, after agreeing to work another seven years for Laban.

Leah gives birth to six sons—ReubenSimeon,LeviJudahIssachar and Zebulun—and a daughter, Dinah, while Rachel remains barren. Rachel gives Jacob her handmaid, Bilhah, as a wife to bear children in her stead, and two more sons, Dan and Naphtali, are born. Leah does the same with her handmaid, Zilpah, who gives birth to Gad and Asher. Finally, Rachel’s prayers are answered and she gives birth to Joseph.

Jacob has now been in Charan for fourteen years. After six more years, Jacob leaves Charan in stealth, fearing that Laban would prevent him from leaving with the family and property for which he labored. Laban pursues Jacob, but is warned by G‑d in a dream not to harm him. Laban and Jacob make a treaty on Mount Gal-Ed, and Jacob proceeds to the Holy Land, where he is met by an angel.

” Dvar Torah “
In the book of Bereshit, the Torah discusses in detail The lives of our forefathers, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. But what is it that made Jacob–not Abraham or Isaac–the true father of the Jewish people? We are the “congregation of Jacob”, “the children of Israel”. Jacob/Israel is the man whose name we bear. Yet Jacob did not begin the Jewish journey; Abraham did. Jacob faced no trials like Abraham, nor was he binded on the altar like Isaac, to sacrifice his life. Abraham introduced monotheism to the world and was a symbol of kindness. Isaac too was a man of G-d and followed in his father’s footsteps. But it was Jacob who fathered the twelve tribes of Israel, and not Abraham or Isaac. And it was Jacob that all his children stayed within the faith, unlike Abraham or Isaac. So why did he succeed when Abraham and Isaac failed? What was so special about Jacob that Hashem chose him to be “Israel”?
Sir Rabbi Jonathan Sacks, the former chief Rabbi of Great Britain has an interesting insight to this question. He says that the answer lies in this weeks Parsha and the next. He says that Jacob’s greatest visions of G-d came to him, when he was fleeing from one danger to the next. First, in this weeks Parsha when he was escaping from Esau, he stopped and rested for the night with only stones to lie on, and had a dream. In his dream, he saw a ladder resting on the earth, With its top reaching to heaven, and the angels of G-d were ascending and descending on the…….. And Hashem appeared to him and said, “Behold, I’m with you; I will guard you wherever you go, and I will return you to the land”. In next week’s Parsha, fleeing from Laban and terrified of the likelihood of meeting Esau again, he wrestles alone at night with a stranger who was an angel of G-d. Then the man said your name will no longer be Jacob, but Israel, because you have struggled with G-d and have overcome”.
Rabbi Sacks explains that this was the great strength of Jacob. At times when Jacob was at risk in both directions, at times when his life was in danger and all the hopes were gone, he encountered G-d and found the courage to continue despite all the hazards of the journey. And this is the strength that Jacob has passed down to the Jewish people…… when we fall down, we have the power to get up so quickly! Whether it was the destruction of two Temples, the Babylonian and Roman conquests, the Spanish expulsion, the rise of anti-Semitism in nineteenth-century Europe, and the Holocaust; the Jews rose to greater heights. During the Babylonian exile it deepened its engagement with the Torah. After the Roman destruction of Jerusalem it produced the great literatures of the Oral Torah: Mishnah and Gemara. A mere three years after the Holocaust it proclaimed the state of Israel, the land that we’ve been deprived from for so many years.
Rabbi Sacks says that when He became the chief rabbi, he had to undergo a medical examination. The doctor put him on a treadmill, walking at a fast pace. “What are you testing Dr.?” He asked. “How fast I can go, or how long I can last?” “Neither,” he replied. “What I am testing is how long it takes, when you come off the treadmill, for your pulse to return to normal.” That is when he discovered that health is measured by the power of recovery and not by avoiding sickness!!
Yes my friends, to avoid challenges in life is not a sign of strength, but to face the challenges and keep going is what makes you powerful like Jacob. By now, us Jews are used to suffering, but it never stopped us from succeeding in life. Over thirty years ago, we all had to leave Iran with hardly able to take anything with us and start a new life in the United States. But in no time we started to settle down. In a short period of time, we built a beautiful Kanissa for ourselves and became successful in our trades. And this is the characteristic we inherited from Jacob known as Israel; how to not give up in life and how to continue despite all the challenges.
Remember that to fall is not a sign of failure, but to get up fast is the sign of triumph! Don’t forget that Jacob had his greatest visions of Heaven at the lowest point in his life!
Shabbat Shalom & Regards;