top of page

Vayetzi – A thought for the week by Michael Lewis

This Sedra, which translates as “he went out”, covers about 20 years in the life of Jacob. It follows the flight from Esau to the flight from Laban. It begins in the evening and ends in the morning. Jacob goes out alone and returns with two wives, Rachel and Leah, and eleven children. (Although we should never forget Bilhah and Zilphah, also the mothers of the heads of some of the eventual tribes; Benjamin will be born later).

It is at the beginning of the journey that Jacob encounters God in the story we recognise as that of “Jacobs Ladder”. It is in a dream and his first words on awakening are

אָכֵן֙ יֵ֣שׁ יְהֹוָ֔ה בַּמָּק֖וֹם הַזֶּ֑ה וְאָֽנֹכִ֖י לֹ֥א יָדָֽעְתִּי:
Indeed, the Lord is in this place, and I did not know it

The word “Makom” (מָּק֖וֹם) is taken to indicate not just a physical space but a spiritual one. In the Perkei D' Rebbe Elieazar the question was raised

Why is the place where Jacob rested called “HaMakom”?

The answer being

Because in every place where there are righteous people, God's spirit is with them.

It is not defined by geography. It is a place where we encounter God.

(In the 16th century Jews fleeing from Spain and Portugal settled in Holland. Amsterdam, which was a haven and where we could practice our faith, was sometimes referred to as “HaMakom)

At this place, which Jacob renamed Beth-El, he seems to qualify his acceptance of God by asking

if you bring me home and give me peace I will tithe to you

We still ask the same thing each day at the end of the Amidah when we recite

שָׁלוֹם בִּמְרוֹמָיו הוּא יַעֲשֶׂה שָׁלוֹם עָלֵֽינוּ וְעַל כָּל־יִשְׂרָאֵל וְאִמְרוּ אָמֵן: עֹשֶׂה
Oseh shalom bimromav ,hu ya’aseh shalom, aleinu v'al kol Yisrael, v'imru amen

He Who makes peace in His high heavens may He make peace upon us and upon all Israel and let us say Amen.

5 views0 comments

Recent Posts

See All

Vayechi – A thought for the week by Michael Lewis

Vayechi is the last Parasha of Bereishit. Winston Churchill used the phrase “the end of the beginning but not the beginning of the end” after the Battle of Britain in the 1940’s. It could well apply t

Vayigash – A thought for the week by Michael Lewis

The Joseph story fills the last 4 chapters of Bereishit. This week, Vayigash, is the longest of them all. In the Torah scroll there are no paragraph breaks since we read Miketz last week. We continue

Miketz – A thought for the week by Michael Lewis

How do we maintain our Jewish identity in a strange land? That has been a question that resonates throughout our history. There are times when we consider our own land is estranged from us! On Shabbat


bottom of page