When you Choose Shabbat, you choose to learn that every Shabbat is different and special. This week I learned that Parashat (וַיֵּצֵא) – Vayetze Vayeitzei, Vayetzei or Vayeitze – is the seventh weekly Torah portion in the annual cycle of Torah readings. According to Wikipedia, Vayetze (Genesis 28:10 through 32:3) is made up of 7,512 Hebrew letters, 2021 words, 148 verses and 235 lines of the Torah Scroll.
The parashah tells of many things; Jacob’s travels to, life in and return from Harran; Jacob’s dream of a ladder to heaven; Jacob’s meeting of Rachel at the well; Jacob’s time working for Laban and living with Rachel and Leah; the birth of Jacob’s children and the departure of Jacob’s family from Laban.
Rabbi Michael D Klein of Temple Torat Emet offers his insights on this week’s Torah reading, Vayetze for Shabbat November 25, 2023 aka the 12th of Kislev, 5784:
“This week we celebrate the American Holiday Thanksgiving. This is the most Jewish of all American holidays. In this week’s Sedra, Vayeitze, we encounter many levels of thankfulness by our patriarch Yaakov. First, in escaping the harm of his brother Esau, Yaakov is thankful for G-d’s protection. Second, in meeting his future wife Rachel, he is given superhuman strength at the well which enables him to lift the heavy rock that is covering it. Finally, in his encounter with Laban, he is thankful to overcome the deceitfulness and trickery of his father-in-law and the ability to leave as a wealthy man with four wives and thirteen children.
We have many blessings in our lives and sometimes we may forget to be mindful of all that we receive; our health, the love of our family, beautiful wonders of the natural world. Yaakov certainly epitomizes the individual who evaluates life and appreciates all the blessings. Even when we struggle, as Yaakov did, wrestling with an angel, we realize that our struggles in life make us stronger and more resilient in facing the challenges that life frequently presents. The events in Israel have cast a pall upon all celebrations, but, they also emphasize the need to bring those we love closer and that we need to reach out to our neighbors, friends, and congregants to bring them nearer and show them the love and caring that is part of the Thanksgiving celebration.
Let us be like Yaakov by seeking safety and care for all those who need our love and by being resolute and united against evil.”
Questions to Ponder:
- Who did Esau send to confront Yaakov on his journey to Aram Naharayim? Why was he not successful?
- Why is the story of Yaakov’s dream of angels ascending and descending the ladder so significant?
- How did Yaakov know which cattle and sheep to breed to increase his own wealth?
- Why does Yaakov agree to work for Lavan for 21 years?
Rabbi Michael D. Klein attended Yeshiva College of South Florida and served as Torah Reader, Hebrew teacher, Chazzan and spiritual leader of various synagogues throughout South Florida. In January 2015 he became Ritual Director, Bnai/Bnot Mitzvah instructor and 7th grade Hebrew instructor for Temple Torat Emet of Boynton Beach. In October 2019 he was accepted into an accelerated track and received his shicha from Yeshiva Adath Wolkowisk and has been the Rabbinic leadership of Temple Torat Emet since August 2020. In September of 2022 he was appointed Rabbinic and Spiritual Advisor of the Florida Region of FJMC.
Choose Shabbat; choose to celebrate, to light candles, sing songs and learn a little Torah.
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