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November 25, 2023: Parashat Torah Portion Vayetze

This week’s Parashah Torah Portion Vayetze is taken from Genesis 28:10-32:3. Join Dr. Jeffery Myers, as he centralizes on the life of Yaakov, the meaning behind this Parashah, the beginning of his encounter with ELOHIM, and the preparation involved for the destiny Yaakov was to fulfill!

Follow along in the AUDIO PODCAST, by clicking on the play button below, and reading along with the notes, as you listen to today's Parashah Torah Portion:

Lion of Judah Speaks: Parashah Torah Portion Vayetze - Genesis 28:10-32:3

As we look at the life of Yaakov in the next two parashahs we see an extraordinary life and journey. The parashah “Vayetze” translated “He went out” is about his journey to encounter Elohim and prepare him for the destiny that Elohim had for him in creating the nation of Israel. This portion shows us how pressure can be used to get us unstuck from the where we are now to move us to where we need to go.

We can ask a few questions of ourselves before we begin such as; Do we need security and comfort to do well in life? Do we achieve more when we are relaxed and comfortable or when we are challenged and provoked? Many philosophers have long struggled with the great question of our freedom of choice, on the one hand, and our belief in a higher destiny on the other. Is life determined by fate or do we enjoy genuine freedom?

In Biblical Judaism there would seem to be a personal freedom in matters of morality, faith, and ethical choices we make in life. But when it comes to things like life and death, even health and wealth, much as we would like to think we are in control, we seem to be subject to forces beyond our control. Where we live, how long we live, and how comfortably we live are all in Elohim’s hands. Where we can and must choose is what kind of life we will lead. Whether it will be a Godly, righteous, upstanding, decent, and honest life…this is up to us and us alone!

Elohim steps back to grant us the freedom to determine how good, how kind, how Hebrew we will or will not be! Two Scriptures seem to show us the direction Yaakov was going, the decisions he chooses that directs his life. Genesis 28:10 tells us Yaakov leaves his father and heads to Haran. He left Beer-Sheba which represented peace and tranquility and headed to Haran which stood for violence and immorality…it was the hub of turmoil. It was the home of Laban, the swindler and sheep-thief.

However, ironically, it was there in Haran where Yaakov raised his family, where the 12 tribes of Israel were founded. Let’s look back for a moment: Abraham had a wonderful son named Isaac, but he also fathered Ishmael. Isaac bore the pious Yaakov, but also had a ruffian named Esau. Only Yaakov is described as “select of the forefathers”, because his children were all righteous, his offspring was perfect.

We can ask the question: Would not Beer-Sheba have been a better place for Yaakov to have raised his children? Would not Beer-Sheba have been the ideal hothouse for the future Jewish people to be conceived and nurtured? However, remember it’s not in the place, it’s in the upbringing! Why, of all places in Haran? Haran was the chief home of the moon-god, pagan world and society where there were many temptations. But before he got there Elohim reminded him of his destiny! So why take him to Haran? The rabbis say: “The olive yields its best oil when pulverized.” “To produce gold, we need a fiery furnace where the intense heat on the raw metal leaves it purified and precious.”

Yaakov did not have an easy life (few and evil) but it made him a better man and it made his children better children. Let me share a small story: A young man just came out of the military service in the South African army. He was greeted by a Rabbi friend with the platitude, “So, did the army make you a better man?” He said, “No Rabbi, the army made me a better Jew.” His encounter with his fair share of antisemitism actually strengthened his resolve to live a Jewish life.

Life isn’t always smooth sailing! The Creator, in His vast eternal plan intended for us to experience difficulties in life. Apparently, we grow from our discomfort and challenges and we emerge better, stronger, wiser, and more productive people! There is always a purpose to pain! “No pain- No Gain!” Like the olive, we yield our best when we are under pressure! For instance, the egg, the more you boil it the harder it gets. The trials, persecution, ridicule, and testing should only strengthen you, give you courage, faith and hope! Why? Because you are alive and have emerged from the hardships of your situation stronger, more tenacious, more determined than ever! Yaakov raised a beautiful family in less-than-ideal conditions…emulate his example!

Wherever we may be living and whatever circumstances we must rise to the challenge and live successful. But remember Yaakov had a choice…after the visit from Almighty in Genesis 29:1, “Yaakov lifted his feet and went on his way” …that was his moment of decision! Wait a minute…does the Torah really need to tell us that in order to move, we have to first lift our feet? Was Yaakov stuck in something?

Are you stuck in your past and you can’t move forward? So many of us look at our circumstances and say, “What can I do?” We resign ourselves to the situation we are in, stuck in the environment surrounding us with all its problems. So many times, we are asked: How are you doing? We respond, “Well in the circumstances I currently find myself…”. STOP! We don’t find ourselves in circumstances…we create our own circumstances! Yes, I hear you, there are times we find ourselves in circumstances beyond our control but throughout life, we find ample scope and opportunities to improve our circumstances. We each have unique qualities, talents, and potential! So, it is up to us to use and develop these gifts. Amen?

We can overcome! We overcome by the Blood of the Lamb and the WORD of our testimony! The Torah is the birthright to each of us! We just have to go out and conquer our ground! Yaakov lifted his feet and went on his way! Before he became Israel…it was a prerequisite to his destiny.

Some people follow their feet wherever they will take them. No matter the direction, they simply coast along, allowing their feet to lead them! This is not so for Yaakov! He was master of his feet! He was master of his circumstances! He set his feet on the right road and he became MASTER of his own destiny! So…we can do the same! Lift yourself beyond your circumstances and get a steppin’!

Shabbat Shalom Mishpocha,

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No matter where life takes you may you always lift up your feet and walk the path Elohim has chosen. May every circumstance you go through…you go through! Let your voice be heard giving Elohim praise for all He has done. As Americans we celebrate Thanksgiving, so may we remind ourselves why…it is only because of our heavenly Abba. It is because His Son, Yeshua gave His life for us and that is why we serve Him. He is good…all the time and all the time…He is good! See you at the Kehillah and see you at the altar!

Shalom Aleichem

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