Torah Portion:  Vayetze (And He Went Out) B’resheet (Genesis) 28-32

Haftorah Reading: Hosea 12:13-14:10

This week our Torah portion covers at least 20 years of Jacob’s life. We read of his journey to the home of Laban, his marriage to Rachel and Leah and the birth of 11 of what would become the tribes of Israel. Finally, at the end of the Torah portion we read of his return to the Land.


I want us to look at several spiritual lessons we can learn from Jacob. However, I have just one word about last weeks portion that I did not have time to bring out. If you remember last week’s portion was named Toldot or Generations, where the genealogy of Isaac is laid out. Interestingly, the first time we see this word in scripture is in Genesis 5:1. There it was used to refer to the generations of Adam the first man. In Matthew 1:1 we read, “The book of the genealogy Yeshua the Messiah.” I love the balance between the Hebrew scriptures and the Messianic writings. In I Cor. 15:45 we see Shaul speak of Yeshua as the last or final Adam. I hope things like this will reinforce the unity of scripture for each of us. We cannot adequately understand the Messianic scripture without a thorough knowledge of the Torah.

Now to our portion this week, we begin with the dream of Jacob as he stops for the night. Think for a bit how he or you might have felt. He fled his home, Mother and Father, everything he had known and running to a country that would be different. He did not know what to expect. Night had fallen and he was sleeping on the ground.

He probably was at a very low point in his life.  Then he met G-d Almighty. He heard from G-d’s mouth that  G-d would be with him, bless him and bring him back. Sometimes our most intimate times with the Father occur when we are at our end.  Examples of others would be Elijah in I Kings 19, Jeremiah in Jeremiah 20:14,18, even Yeshua when He was on the cross and also David in Psalms 69:2-3.  We should never think G-d has left us or that we have missed His life plan for us and that there is no coming back.  G-d had not given up on Jacob and He does not give up on us. In this verse Genesis 28:11 the Hebrew says he touched and entered into a place and there found G-d waiting for him. G-d was already there. Don’t give up. G-d is waiting for you to enter into or touch the place where He already is waiting.

G-d loves us. All we must do, all He requires, is that we follow Him. You may have noticed a common thread through this Torah portion – sheep. They are everywhere, every color, weak and strong. Even Jacob’s wife, Rachel, is named with a Hebrew word meaning Ewe. So what can we learn from this? What is the main quality that sheep have? They are obedient. When the shepherd calls they come without hesitation. G-d’s people are compared to the sheep many times in scripture. (Song of Songs 2:16, Psalms 80:1, Ezekiel 34:31) Our spiritual life must be characterized by the idea of a sheep. We as His sheep must develop a passionate love and reverent awe of G-d. We then will be equipped to do His will, teaching His love and will, even in difficult places. The foundation of it all however is our simple commitment to Him, a commitment that goes beyond reason and emotion.

Jacob was also a man of dreams. Dreams from G-d can encourage us and give us direction. They can help us stay focused on a goal even when our present situation gives us little hope for optimism. Jacob’s first dream was of the ladder and angels going up and down and G-d’s promise to bring him back. However, life happens, and may have corrupted Jacob. He perfected the art of deception, which he learned from Laban. Jacob became so good at it that he out Labans Laban his uncle. So in Genesis 31:3,10 we read of another dream of Jacob’s where he came to a plan to slowly take Laban’s flocks for himself. G-d came to him and told him to leave and return to Israel. In Genesis 32:2-3 we read of his last dream in our portion. The angels of G-d came to him again and Jacob realized again that he was in G-d’s presence. Next week we will read of his meeting with his brother Esau. But here he is comforted knowing he is again in G-d’s presence. Even though he had many difficult times he was able to hold on to G-d through it all and follow Him. This is G-d’s will for us all – to be the sheep of His pasture and serve Him, not because we must out of obligation but because we can do no other. For He is our shepherd and we are His sheep.