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Torah Commentary Blog

Parashat Vayeitzei (December 3, 2011)
by Leah Kadosh

PERHAPS MY FAVORITE biblical teaching comes from Genesis 28:16: “God was in this place, and I — I did not know.” Jacob wakes up from a dream in which God has revealed to him his blessing: God will protect him, his decedents will be as numerous as “the dust of the earth,” and God will not leave him until this promise is fulfilled. Jacob is alone in the desert, running away from potential danger, just having deceived his dying father and stolen his brother Esau’s birthright. Jacob’s revelation of the Divine Presence and missed opportunity is one of great misfortune, and yet in his mistake, it grants the Jewish people the prospect to learn and seek God’s wonders and miracles in every aspect of life. This depleted encounter serves as our reminder to take advantage of every moment, question, encounter and celebration. Jacob introduces a new relationship with God in this Torah portion, one that is not mandated and blindly accepted, but rather, one that is conflicting, challenging and even conditional.

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