Posted on March 23, 2011
by Bekah Hakimian
November 28, 2009/11 Kislev 5770
Have you ever had a dream that seemed too real? Have you ever waken up from a dream believing that what you just dreamed actually happened? What if your dreams were real and could possibly change the rest of your life?
In this week’s parsha, Jacob dreams a dream while fleeing to Haran. Jacob rests one night and he has a dream. He sees angels ascending and descending a ladder. God comes to Jacob, repeats the blessings given to Abraham and Isaac and promises to protect him and return him to Canaan. Jacob vows that the Lord will be his God if God fulfills his promise.
Jacob arrives in Haran and is taken in by his uncle Laban. Laban has two daughters, Leah and Rachel. A bargain is struck. Jacob will work seven years and be given Rachel as a wife. Laban deceives Jacob on the wedding night and substitutes Leah for Rachel. To resolve Jacob’s anger at what has happened, Laban offers Rachel also in exchange for Jacob’s promise to work another seven years. From this trickery comes the tradition that happens at Jewish weddings. A bride is to wear a vale and then the groom is to check under the vale before the bride is given by her father to make sure the groom is receiving the right bride.
After fourteen years of labor, Jacob’s famous legacy of children begins. Leah bears Jacob four sons: Reuben, Simeon, Levi, and Judah. Rachel is barren, so she gives Jacob her maid Bilhah as a concubine. Bilhah bears two sons, Dan and Naphtali. Leah in turn gives Jacob Zilpah, her maid, as a concubine and Zilpah bears two sons, Gad and Asher. Leah has three more children: Issachar, Zebulun, and Dinah (the only girl). Finally, Rachel conceives and bears Joseph.
Jacob asks Laban to allow him to return to his home in Canaan. They agree that as his wages for 20 years of service, Jacob will build himself a flock from Laban’s herd. Jacob indeed builds himself a flock and unbeknownst to Laban, Jacob and his household flee. Prior to leaving, Rachel steals her father’s idols. Laban is angry at Jacob but is warned by God in a dream not to take revenge.
Why does the Torah tell us that angels were “ascending and descending?” One might think angels would descend first. Rashi explains: “Those angels who accompanied Jacob in the land of Israel were not permitted to leave the land; they ascended to heaven. And angels which were to minister to him outside the land descended to accompany him.” Does the idea of a guardian angel appeal to you? Is this in a sense what the angels were to Jacob?
The text states about Jacob, “Ba bamakom – He came upon a certain place.” (28:11) The Hebrew word for “place” (makom) became, in Rabbinical usage a name for God. Using this translation, the verse could then read, “He came upon God.” The Rabbis explained their use of HaMakom as a name for God by teaching that God is the place of the world, but the world is not God’s only place. During this holiday of thanks, we should remember to be thankful not only for our health, family, and friends but the small things in life we take for granted. We need to be thankful for everything because everything in this world belongs to God and is in a sense a part of God. This weekend is a great time to be thankful but we really can say thanks 365 days a year.
Shabbat Shalom and Happy Thanksgiving!