Va-Yetze Gen. 28:10-32:3 (Dec. 6/7)

As the Torah Turns

Rabbi Lader’s Weekly D’var Torah

Va-Yetze – Gen. 28:10-32:3 (Dec. 6/7)

Our Torah portion this week is Va-Yetze – Gen. 28:10-32:3 and, with Jacob on his way to Haran to escape the murderous intentions of his brother Esau, relates the wondrous story of “Jacob’s Ladder” – his dream of angels ascending and descending from earth to heaven, and God standing beside him with promises of a safe return to the home and land that he has fled.  Jacob awakens from his dream saying, “Surely God is in this place and me, I did not know it!” (Gen. 28:16) The Hebrew grammar of this verse is unusual.  The initial “ve-anochi – and me” seems superfluous.  In the past tense “lo ya-dati – I did not know” – the I is already included in the Hebrew form of the verb.  Yet… the reading of the verse seems to imply that both God and Jacob were in that place, and Jacob did not realize that.   In his classic work on Polish Chassidism, Shelomoh of Radomsk (1803-1866) teaches that “…if the Presence of the Holy One indeed dwells there, if I have invoked the holiness of this place, it must be because ‘ … and me’ – my I, I did not know.”  I eliminated what was in me – my sense of self-awareness, any consciousness of ego, any trace of self-intention.  Everything was now only for the sake of … unifying the Holiness within all being and its Presence.” In other words, when Jacob was able to move beyond himself… he was able to come to know God and to feel God’s Presence.  Has there been a time when you have been able to move beyond your sense of self-awareness to become aware of the Presence of Holiness?

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