November 16, 2018
8 Kislev 5779
Candle lighting: 4:28 p.m.
At the beginning of this week’s Torah portion, VaYetze, Jacob is embarking on what will be a long and difficult journey. Having been threatened by his brother and fearing for his life, he flees his home. He wandered through the desert with inadequate resources, and was completely alone. Cold, scared, and vulnerable, Jacob curled up in a ball using a pile of rocks and dirt that he had ruffled together as a pillow, and tried to go to sleep. When he was asleep, he had a dream. He saw angels going up and then down a ladder, reminding him that God was with him, and that he was not alone.
When he woke up, the rocks and dirt that Jacob had gathered as a pillow solidified. He famously exclaimed “Anochi Hayah BeMakom HaZeh ve LoYadati” – “God was in this place and I didn’t know it.” He recognized that despite all of the turmoil and challenges going on his life, there were also blessings, he was not alone, and he had a lot to be thankful for. This past month has been a particularly challenging one for many of us. The horrific shooting at a Conservative Synagogue was followed by another deadly shooting a few days later at a bar. We are still emerging from particularly difficult and devastating fires, and learning about their impact on our community.
Like Jacob, there may be challenges that we are facing, or despair that we may be feeling. But like Jacob, may we all recognize that none of us are alone. As we enter this week of Thanksgiving together, one of the many things that I am thankful for is the opportunity to be part of such a warm, welcoming, and supportive community. Like Jacob, as we prepare ourselves to enjoy Thanksgiving, may we all have the wisdom to appreciate the many blessings in our lives, both the obvious ones and others less so.
Wishing you and your families a Shabbat Shalom and a Happy Thanksgiving,
To read an archive of Rabbi Dorsch’s D’var Torah click here.