Monday, November 19, 2012

Parashat Vayetzei - Under the Wings of Angels

      “Coming upon a [certain] place, he passed the night there, for the sun was setting; taking one of the stones of the place, he made it his head-rest as he lay down in that place” (Gen. 28:11). The story is told in this week’s Parasha, Vayetzei. We’re reading about this certain “place”. It didn’t sound too fancy. Just a very ordinary place.
Jacob had a dream. He “dreamed, and lo—a ladder was set on the ground, with its top reaching into heaven, and lo—angels of God going up and coming down on it…. Waking from his sleep, Jacob said, ‘Truly, the Eternal is in this place, and I did not know it!’ He was awestruck, and said, ‘How awe-inspiring is this place! This is none other than the house of God, and this is the gate of heaven!’” (Gen. 28:12, 16-17).
The story of Jacob’s dream is truly inspirational. Is it the dream, or is it the angels that provide comfort?
Jacob’s dream of the ladder with the angels is one of the most profound encounters with God in the Bible. It wasn’t necessarily the place that was so unique. It was Jacob. Unknowingly, Jacob had become more open to the presence of God. And in this very ordinary place, Jacob was able to declare: “God is in this place and I did not know it”…the place he discovers is really within himself.
I believe that there are “Spiritual Ladders” everywhere. We just have to be willing to take the step to ascend. Who knows what you will find? 
     This week, the story of sibling rivalry of Jacob and Esau takes on an even deeper  meaning.
Jacob went through many changes. He left Canaan with nothing, but returned with a family and great wealth. He was transformed, from the brother that tricked Esau into giving up the birthright to a man who truly understood righteousness and justice. He has certainly earned God’s protection. Now he is Yisraeyl.
Many of us are hoping to hear updates from Israel with hopes of a ceasefire.
To be a Jew has always been to live with a certain degree of anxiety and uncertainty. And it also means to live with courage.
Last week, in Toldot, we saw just how brutally two brothers can fight. And, in a couple of weeks, in Vayislach, we will learn of an impending meeting between Jacob and Esau. They can continue fighting with each other, or they can come to the realization, as they finally do later in life, that they are brothers, the sons of one man.

The Hashkiveinu prayer asks God to guard our going out and our coming in. I pray that our brothers and sisters in Israel are sheltered under the wings of angels.
I pray for the day when “the lion will dwell with the lamb” and Israel, finally will know a true and lasting peace.

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