Sedra of the week: Vayetze
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Sedra of the week: Vayetze

Rabbi Naftali Schiff looks ahead to the forthcoming portion of the Torah

I recently met a young couple before their chuppah and mentioned that marriage is about growing together and embracing challenges. The more I tried to develop the point, the more I was met by blank stares. I asked their goals for their marriage.

“We have put down a deposit on a three-bedroom semi. In time we’ll move to a four bedroom detached and we’re dreaming of the country house on a gated road.” It was clear my message of growing together had not hit the spot.

In our parsha, Jacob flees the family home and is ambushed on the way, leaving him bereft of all material possessions. He lies down exhausted into a deep sleep and has a prophetic dream. His monumental ladder features angels.

Jacob is setting off to ‘go it alone’ into the great unknown, eventually becoming Yisrael – the ultimate patriarch of the Jewish people who bear his name. One of the most powerful messages of the dream is that a meaningful life is a dynamic one replete with ups and downs. Life, as Jacob is about to find out, is all about struggle and challenge.

At the outset of his epic journey, God gives him one of the most important messages a Jew can ever receive. Life is not static; it is about engaging in the ongoing struggle for meaningful growth, not the accumulation of material things. It is about continually striving to be, do and make better.

Rather than dream of a challenge-free existence, this week’s vision encourages us towards constant growth of who we are, our meaningful goals, and our commitment to stay in the ring, no matter how tough the fight may be.

Rabbi Naftali Schiff is CEO of Jewish Futures Trust

Help perform the greatest mitzvah: save a life

While life in Israel has returned to normal and hopes are high that Britain is set for a summer without restrictions thanks to vaccines, for billions around the world there is no such imminent light at the end of the tunnel. In the majority of countries around the globe, particularly the poorest, the vaccine rollout has barely kicked off.

That's why Jewish News, the leading source of news and opinion for the entire UK community, is throwing its full weight behind UNICEF’s VaccinAid campaign by using this platform usually reserved for encouraging donations towards our own journalism to instead urge our readers around the globe to perform the greatest mitzvah: saving a life.

We have never before done this for any charity fundraiser but it's hard to recall a campaign that affects so many people, and indeed an entire planet aching for a return to normality. Just like the Chief Rabbi and Rachel Riley, we hope to boost the mission to deliver two billion vaccines, 165 million treatments and 900 million test kits around the world by the end of this year.

Please donate as much as you can, in the spirit of the Talmudic sages: “to save one life is to save the world entire”

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