Torah Portion: Vayetzei (He Went Out) Genesis 28:10-32:3
HafTorah: Hosea 11:7-12:12
Tonight I would like to start with a look at Genesis 29:1. In this verse in English it is translated as Jacob “went on his journey.” However the Hebrew is more like “he lifted his feet and went on his way.” Do we really need to know “he lifted his feet?” What is the Torah telling us with these words? Many times we look at our circumstances and resign ourselves to our situation. Jacob was in a pretty bad place. He left his home under a threat from his brother to kill him. Yet what did he do? He took control of his feet and went with purpose. He didn’t sit and think, “Woe is me.” Rather he set his feet to go where G-d was leading him. He rose above his situation and went on his way. He set his feet on the right road – as we must do in the situations we find ourselves in.
Now, back track a little to the first verse of our Torah section. Jacob left Beer Sheva and went to Haran. Think of this question. Do we need comfort and security to do well in life? Do we achieve more when we are comforted or when we are challenged? In Jacob’s life Beer Sheva was the place of his birth – the place where he would feel most secure. Haran on the other hand was a place of idolatry and immorality. Yet here in Haran is where Jacob raised his family and where the 12 tribes of Israel were founded. Both Abraham and Isaac had sons, Ishmael and Esau, who were outcasts and a disappointment. Of all the Patriarchs only Jacob raised all his children to be righteous. Would not Beer Sheva have been a better place to raise his family? Think about the olive. How do we get olive oil? The olives are crushed to get the oil. How do we get gold? Gold is removed from the ore in an iron furnace.
Life is not always smooth sailing. Somehow G-d has it in His plan for us to be challenged, to be crushed. Through challenges we grow and become stronger and wiser. In G-d’s plan there is always a purpose to pain. That is why James says in James 1:2, Count it all joy when you fall into various trials, so that by the testing of our faith we become stronger in it. Jacob raised his family in the crucible of Haran and all his children followed G-d. This does not mean we search out difficulties but when they come we have the strength to go through them and come out stronger. So I believe that these two thoughts go together. If we set our feet on the right path G-d will see us through those things that will strengthen us.
So, in this Torah section we see Jacob going to Haran and finding his bride. However, before he leaves Israel he has his famous dream. I asked you what your thoughts are concerning this dream specifically where the angels are ascending and descending and how does that help us understand Jon 1:49-51. As the angels of G-d helped Jacob so Yeshua was ministered to by angels. Hebrews 1:14 tells us that all who believe are ministered to by angels.
One other point to be made here and that is where does all this occur? In Hebrew the place is designated as “hamacom” or the place. Not just any place but “the place.” In Genesis 22 we read the same words when Abraham looks and sees Mt. Moriah. So I think we can say that the place where Jacob spends the night is what would become the Temple Mount. In fact he calls it “The House of G-d” and the gate of heaven. It is one of the places in the scriptures where we read about heaven and earth intersecting.
So as we close I want each of us to think of our position in life and what we are facing and then consider what is the Father trying to teach us. What oil is being extracted from us? We are never under the circumstances. Rather as we seek the Father and His will for us we live in the light of G-d which is for our good not harm. May He bless you each one with strength and wisdom to find Him in everything.