Jacob is fleeing. The incident with Esau and the blessing has caused Rebekah to urge her favorite son to make his way to her brother Laban. So, it is in this portion that Jacob’s story really begins to unfold. He has no idea that what shall unfold in his life will carry on the theme of manipulation and deceit.
But he first stops to sleep, and it is in this very passage that we see the first glimpse of his spiritual maturation. He sleeps and dreams and dreams of the famous ladder, with angels going up and down and God beside him. He wakes up and comes to the realization that (28:16) God was in the place and “I did not know it”.
We often come to the realization that something sacred is with us and that realization comes slowly. Think back over the course of our lives and ask how many times we became aware of the sacred in moments and locations unexpected. A key, of course, is having our soul be open to receiving those messages. Maybe Jacob, after the stresses and challenges of his family, was ready to move to a different level of experience?
But what of those angels? Our tradition has a wealth of them, many with assigned jobs. They appear in Jacobs’ dream, but what of us? In our so-called sophisticated world, do we ever stop to consider where our angels are or were? Maybe they are all around us and we do not know it? So, this Shabbat, take some time to ask yourself, who are or have been your angels; those people who, along your life’s journey, have held you, supported you, inspired you and, maybe brought you closer to the Divine aspects of life.
Rabbi Richard F AddressVayetze (Genesis
Rabbi Richard F. Address, D.Min, is the Founder and Director of www.jewishsacredaging.com. Rabbi Address served for over three decades on staff of the Union for Reform Judaism; first as a Regional Director and then, beginning in 1997, as Founder and Director of the URJ’s Department of Jewish Family Concerns and served as a specialist and consultant for the North American Reform Movement in the areas of family related programming. Rabbi Address was ordained from Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion in 1972 and began his rabbinic career in Los Angeles congregations. He also served as a part time rabbi for Beth Hillel in Carmel, NJ while regional director and, after his URJ tenure, served as senior rabbi of Congregation M’kor Shalom in Cherry Hill, NJ from 2011-2014.