This week we studied the portion vayeitzei in which Jacob dreams of a ladder to heaven. In the very first verse of this portion we learn that Jacob has left Bersheva, travelling to Haran, so we know he is on a journey. The rabbis, the ancient sages of Israel, tell us that when a righteous person goes to a place they are able to mine the divine sparks that reside there, under whatever uncleanness that might be there.
Now some of us might complain and ask why I am in this particular job, or particular town; why has God put me in this family? Sometimes we have the emphasis in the wrong place. We might be thinking that our job or career or mission in life is about what we can get out of it, but what if we are looking at it in an improper way. What if it is all about the positive influence that we can be on that, or any, place.
It is our job to make a place better because we have been there. As I was growing up, whenever my father took us out to anything, a ball game or an event, he always said we should leave the place better than we found it. So we would always pick up trash or straighten up when we were leaving so the place would be better for us having been there. And that is how it is, how it should be, in our spiritual lives as well.
So Jacob is travelling from Bersheva to Haran and the sages tell us that Esau has a son Elefaz who he has instructed to kill his brother Jacob. When Elefaz comes upon Jacob he doesn’t know what to do, one the one hand he has been told by his father to kill his uncle but on the other hand he knows it is wrong. He doesn’t want to disobey his father but he has also been influenced by his righteous grandfather Isaac.
So what do we do when we don’t know what to do? We seek godly counsel, we try to get wisdom from those around us. And that is exactly what Elefaz does – he asks Jacob – he tells him the situation. Jacob was very clever, right there on the spot he gives Elefaz all his worldly possessions so that he is completely poor. Why?
The sages tell us that the Torah views a poor person who has nothing is as if they are dead, they do not have any means by which to influence anyone to do anything. So in this way, Elefaz can go home to his father Esau and tell him that he left his uncle Jacob for dead. Elefaz’ dilemma reminds me of those who hid Jews in the holocaust. If you were one of those doing the hiding and the authorities came to you and asked if you were hiding Jews, what would you say? It is the kind of moral question that requires godly counsel.
This passage also reminds me of the passage in which Abraham has the divine visitors, and here is why. On that day, as Abraham sat in his tent the sun was extra hot. We know that Abraham was being healed by the heat of the sun and God made it extra hot on that day so that the very hospitable Abraham would have no travelers stopping by. God made it extra hot so that Abraham would rest. Something similar happens in this week’s portion with Jacob, Abraham’s grandson. As he travels, he comes to a place called Bet El, the house of God. The rabbis tell us that God said to himself that I cannot have the righteous Jacob pass by my house and not at least stay the night. So God made the sun set early so it would get dark and Jacob would have to make camp.
I love the way when we read in the scriptures the way in which our heavenly father orchestrates things so he can show kindness to us, his children.
If you would like to study with me, look into the Kosher Pastor program in the link on this site, designed to teach Christians about Messianic Judaism.
And if you are from Africa or are of African descent, like our African-American brothers and sisters, please look into the Uri program at af.shuvu.tv. The roots of your faith run very deep, all the way back to father Abraham.
Shalom and Kol Tuv
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