Vayetze (Genesis 28:10-32:3) Who Are YOUR Angels?

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            Vayetze is another of the Genesis portions that contain a wealth of issues. The main thrust of this portion is Jacob’s return to his mother’s homeland, to Laban’s household, and the “romance” between Jacob, Leah, and Rachel. There is Laban’s trickery on Jacob, another instance of infertility, concubines and the birth of what will emerge as the tribes. Jacob must deal with time, as he is married to Leah and must wait more time until he is with his first love, Rachel. Even Jacob and his entourage, as they try to leave to return to Jacob’s homeland, is filled with drama.

            But we return to the very beginning of the passage, to one of the most famous of stories in Torah, that of Jacob’s ladder or stairway (sulam). Jacob flees from his home, as per the instructions of his mother Rebecca, and, weary from running, falls asleep. (Chapter28). He dreams and sees this ladder or stairway that was set on the ground and reaching to the sky “and angels of God were going up and coming down”. (28:12). Countless commentaries have been written about this most famous story. I have no doubt that many will be discussed as you study this passage this Shabbat.

            Let us, however, try and focus on something that, I feel, relates to our generation. We read that angels are going up and then down. Interesting because one would assume that angels would be coming down from heaven. Yet, here we read that the angels were going up first.

Play with that image for a bit and think about the meaning of what an angel could be. Not in a supernatural way, although Judaism has a rich history of angels, many of which have specific roles, rather angels in a very present human way. In our lives, who are the angels who help us, support us and, in many instances, elevate us to a higher plane of living?

            As we get older, as we realize that we often need help in ways we never did before, we often come to rely on these modern “angels”. Certainly, those of us who have walked the caregiver walk know first-hand that we often have encountered modern angels. You may be one yourself! Our angels do help people, us, to live better and to be able to function in so many ways. These angels may be friends who, no matter what, have been there for us in all kinds of situations. They lift us up. So who are your angels, because we each have them and how many time have we been in a situation when we “awoke” to understand that they have always been there…but we were not aware.

Shabbat shalom,

Rabbi Richard F Address

1 Comment

  1. Unfortunately, as we age, we come to realize that we no longer have the strength and endurance that we had when we were younger, and we need to rely on the “angels” around us who help us navigate the business of living.

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