HAPPY THANKSGIVING HOLIDAY AND WEEKEND
It is good to give thanks to the Eternal One,
and to sing praises unto Your name, O Most High;
to declare Your lovingkindness in the morning,
and Your faithfulness at night.
From “Mishkan T’filah / A Reform Siddur” p.516
FOR OUR COUNTRY
THUS SAYS ADONAI, This is what I desire: to unlock the fetters of wickedness, and untie the cords of lawlessness; to let the oppressed go free, to break off every yoke. Share your bread with the hungry, and take the wretched poor into your home. When you see the naked, give clothing, and do not ignore your own kin.
O GUARDIAN of life and liberty, may our nation always merit Your protection. Teach us to give thanks for what we have by sharing it with those who are in need. Keep our eyes open to the wonders of creation, and alert to the care of the earth. May we never be lazy in the work of peace; may we honor those who have [served, suffered or] died in defense of our ideals. Grant our leaders wisdom and forbearance. May they govern with justice and compassion. Help us all to appreciate one another, and to respect the many ways that we may serve You. May our homes be safe from affliction and strife, and our country be sound in body and spirit. Amen.
From ReformJudaism.org https://reformjudaism.org/torah/portion/vayeitzei
Vayeitzei [וַיֵּצֵא – And (Jacob) Left] – Genesis 28:10−32:3
- Jacob dreams of angels going up and down a ladder. God blesses him. Jacob names the place Bethel. (28:10-22)
- Jacob works seven years in order to marry Rachel, but Laban tricks Jacob into marrying Leah, Rachel’s older sister. (29:16-25)
- Jacob marries Rachel but only after having to commit himself to seven more years of working for Laban. (29:26-30)
- Leah, Rachel, and their maidservants, Bilhah and Zilpah, give birth to eleven sons and one daughter. (29:31-30:24)
- Jacob and his family leave Laban’s household with great wealth. (31:1-32:3)
From my Jewish Learning.com https://www.myjewishlearning.com/article/parashat-vayetze/
Jacob flees to his uncle Laban’s household and lives there for several years, marrying Laban’s daughters, Leah and Rachel, and building a large family.
Hosea 11:7-12:12 (Sephardim) or Hosea 12:13-14:10 (Ashkenazim)
STRUGGLING WITH TORAH
The triennial part of Vayëtzë, Genesis 30:14-31:16, tells of Leah giving birth to Issachar, Zebulun and Dinah, and Rachel giving birth to Joseph. Jacob asks his uncle and father-in-law Laban’s permission to take his wives and children, and return to his own country. Laban admits that God had blessed him for Jacob’s sake.
Laban asks Jacob to name his price to stay, and presses him to remain. Jacob agrees to take care of Laban’s flock and keep the speckled, spotted and dark sheep and goats for himself. At first, Laban agrees but then he gives them to his sons and sends them far away. Jacob then resorts to a method for causing only the strong animals to produce speckled, spotted and dark young. After, Laban’s sons believe that Jacob has become wealthy at their father’s expense. Laban’s attitude toward Jacob changes despite his wholehearted service to Laban. Jacob tells his wives that God has told him in a dream to return to his own country and that God would bless him. Leah and Rachel say they no longer have any portion in Laban’s house and that he do what God has told him.
From Wikipedia.org https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vayetze
The early 20th century German scholar Hermann Gunkel wrote that the legend cycle of Jacob-Esau-Laban divided clearly into the legends (1) of Jacob and Esau (Genesis 25:19–34; 27:1–45; 27:46–28:9; 32:3–21; 33:1–17), (2) of Jacob and Laban (Genesis 29:1–30; 30:25–31:55), (3) of the origin of the twelve tribes (Genesis 29:31–30:24), and (4) of the origin of ritual observances (Genesis 28:10–22; 32:1–2, 22–32).
Professor Cynthia Chapman of Oberlin College suggested that Judeans compiled and edited the ancestor narratives in Genesis after the Babylonian captivity to serve as stories of national origin. Chapman noted that several recurring themes of the Patriarchal narratives spoke to the exilic reality of those who preserved the stories. These stories emphasize God’s presence and power transcending national boundaries, the special covenant between God and Abraham’s descendants, the eternal nature of their covenant relationship, and the everlasting gift of the Promised Land. The stories also acknowledge tensions that threaten the protagonists. Jacob spent most of his adult life in Mesopotamia, and stories of hard-won children who were born into a land inheritance spoke powerfully to an exilic community that had lost many children to war and sickness during the long journey to exile. The Israelites viewed their world as a family tree; the story of Jacob’s family became the basis for how the Israelites understood themselves socially and politically as an alliance of 12 tribes; and where tribes stood in relation to each other. The process by which Jacob became Israel involved fleeing, exile, and hard labor. From the perspective of a people exiled from their land living in Mesopotamia, Jacob’s story was a powerful story of redemption. The Tribe of Judah also endured hard labor, took wives and had children, replenishing themselves into something resembling a nation. Many would build wealth in exile, and when they returned during the Persian period, they returned not as Judah, but as Israel, renamed before they crossed the Jordan River back into the Promised Land.
We read in Pirkë Avot 4:1, “Who is rich? He who rejoices in his lot, as it is said: ‘You shall enjoy the fruit of your labors, you shall be happy and you shall prosper’ (Psalms 128:2) ….” https://www.sefaria.org/Pirkei_Avot.4
The complete Parsha includes the second episode of the meeting of a beautiful young woman at a well who ends up marrying the main protagonist. Significantly, in Parsha Chayë Sarah from two weeks ago, in the first such episode, Laban dealt honorably with his cousin Isaac through Eliezer, his uncle Abraham’s servant. In this week’s Parsha, after initially welcoming him, Laban comes across as underhanded and untrustworthy in most of his dealings with Jacob, his nephew and son-in-law.
Jacob has taken refuge with Laban fleeing from Esau, his fraternal twin brother, who is seeking to kill him at the end of last week’s Parsha Tol’dot. Jacob is likely over 40 years old, and over 54 when he finally marries Rachel, the beautiful maiden at the well. Jacob is probably in his 60s when he leaves with his wives, eleven children and flocks.
This is a rather complicated and convoluted story, much like human relationships in general. Sometimes things start off bad and stay that way. Others start off bad and get better. In others, things start off well and go downhill from there. Yet in others, things start off well and continue so despite ups and downs.
In each of these scenarios, and combinations thereof, there are things for which to be grateful. Despite everything, Jacob seems contented with his lot and ends up well. Most of us can, too, which in and of itself is reason enough to give thanks.
We recite MI SHEBËRACH for the victims of brutality, abuse, fear, natural disasters, pandemics, violence, and war; for all those at home alone; for all those in need of physical, emotional, and mental healing. “R’fuah sh’lëmah” – a complete recovery!
We say KADDISH YATOM for those of our friends and families who have died and been buried this last week; those in the period of Sh’loshim (30 days since burial); those who have died in the last year; and those whose Yahrzeits/Anyos occur at this time; as well as the victims of brutality, disease, natural disasters, war and violence. We remember, too, those victims of the Shoah (Holocaust) who died at this time of year and have us to say “Kaddish” for them. “Zichronam liv’rachah” – May their memories be for blessing.
TORAH STUDY AND SHAZOOM
At 7:30 PM Friday, November 27, 2020, Dr. Sam Caron, President of Temple Kol Hamidbar, and his wife, Mary, will lead the Shazoom Service. We will NOT meet for Torah Study beforehand. We will return to our regularly scheduled 6 PM Torah Study and 7:30 PM Shazoom the following Friday, December 4, 2020.
Zoom continues updating its security and performance features. Making sure you have the latest version of Zoom, please join us online the Friday evening after Thanksgiving:
Shazoom – Erev Shabbat Service
Time: Nov 27, 2020 07:30 PM Arizona
To join Shazoom click on the following link [you may need to copy it into your browser]:
Meeting ID: 854 8121 3897
Being a part of, contributing to and connecting with Temple Kol Hamidbar helps us fulfill our three-fold purpose as a Beit Tefillah (House of Prayer), a Beit Midrash (House of Study) and a Beit Knesset (House of Community) – even virtually.
Shabbat Shalom – Buen Shabbat!