Sedra of the week: Vayeitzei
search

The latest Jewish News

Read this week’s digital edition

Click Here
Analysis

Sedra of the week: Vayeitzei

Rabbi Alex Chapper looks ahead to this week's portion of the Torah

Rabbi Alex Chapper

Everyone has dreams, some more memorable than others. One of the most famous dreams is recorded in the Torah – Jacob sees a ladder reaching up to heaven with angels ascending and descending on it.

I am sure Freud would have enjoyed analysing it, and the commentators offer many explanations of it, but let us focus on Jacob’s reaction on awaking from his sleep.

As if he has made a remarkable personal discovery, he says: “God was in this place but I did not know it.” What did Jacob suddenly realise that triggered him to make this statement?

To appreciate it, we need to view the Sedra as one long account of the difficulties he encounters. He has to escape from his brother Esau; working for Laban, he is tricked into marrying Leah and Rachel; he and his family are pursued by his father-in-law, who accuses them of theft.

Jacob could have been forgiven for thinking that God, who had protected Abraham and Isaac, had abandoned him. It is only after his dream that he understands that, even in the depths of despair, God is with him – not only then, but at all times. In all circumstances, God’s providence, although not clearly apparent, is constantly at work.

Jacob, as we all do, struggles with this concept, but concludes that spirituality is not some ‘way out’ theory, God is not an abstract, at best to be dreamed of in heaven but not to be found on Earth, never to be encountered in our lives. God’s trace is in everything we experience.

So in times of national or personal difficulty, upset or uncertainty, Jacob’s legacy is the knowledge that, even if it is not immediately evident, God’s guiding hand is constantly at work, His help is always nearby and we are not alone.

υ Alex Chapper is Senior Rabbi at Borehamwood & Elstree Synagogue

Support your Jewish community. Support your Jewish News

Thank you for helping to make Jewish News the leading source of news and opinion for the UK Jewish community. Today we're asking for your invaluable help to continue putting our community first in everything we do.

Unlike other Jewish media, we do not charge for content. That won’t change. Because we are free, we rely on advertising to cover our costs. This vital lifeline, which has dropped in recent years, has fallen further due to coronavirus.

For as little as £5 a month you can help sustain the vital work we do in celebrating and standing up for Jewish life in Britain.

Jewish News holds our community together and keeps us connected. Like a synagogue, it’s where people turn to feel part of something bigger. It also proudly shows the rest of Britain the vibrancy and rich culture of modern Jewish life.

You can make a quick and easy one-off or monthly contribution of £5, £10, £20 or any other sum you’re comfortable with.

100% of your donation will help us continue celebrating our community, in all its dynamic diversity...

Engaging

Being a community platform means so much more than producing a newspaper and website. One of our proudest roles is media partnering with our invaluable charities to amplify the outstanding work they do to help us all.

Celebrating

There’s no shortage of oys in the world but Jewish News takes every opportunity to celebrate the joys too, through projects like Night of Heroes, 40 Under 40 and other compelling countdowns that make the community kvell with pride.

Pioneering

In the first collaboration between media outlets from different faiths, Jewish News worked with British Muslim TV and Church Times to produce a list of young activists leading the way on interfaith understanding.

Campaigning

Royal Mail issued a stamp honouring Holocaust hero Sir Nicholas Winton after a Jewish News campaign attracted more than 100,000 backers. Jewish Newsalso produces special editions of the paper highlighting pressing issues including mental health and Holocaust remembrance.

Easy access

In an age when news is readily accessible, Jewish News provides high-quality content free online and offline, removing any financial barriers to connecting people.

Voice of our community to wider society

The Jewish News team regularly appears on TV, radio and on the pages of the national press to comment on stories about the Jewish community. Easy access to the paper on the streets of London also means Jewish News provides an invaluable window into the community for the country at large.

We hope you agree all this is worth preserving.

read more:
comments