07 Vayetze

וַיֵּצֵא יַעֲקֹב מִבְּאֵר שָׁבַע וַיֵּלֶךְ חָרָנָה׃

Now Jacob went out from Beersheba and went toward Haran.

Shabbat

Name

Parasha

Haftora

Brit Chadasha

December 7 2019

Vayetze
“And he went out”

Genesis
28:10-32:3

Hosea
12:13-14:10

John
1:19-51

 

07 vayetze

The Parasha begins with Jacob’s profound, life-changing encounter with God: his dream of the ladder; his vision of God promising that his descendants will multiply and be blessed; and his vow that “if God remains with me…the Lord shall be my God” (Gen. 28:20-21).

God’s way with Jacob was different from His way as Abraham or of Isaac.  For Jacob, God is about drama and tragedy; we do not see Him intervening in all that happened to Jacob, and on the surface level of Scripture He left Jacob to cope almost entirely on his own. God revealed Himself to Jacob five times, at long intervals, and in each revelation,  He made him promises, but He did not actually do anything to save him from his troubles. So, Jacob flees to his mother’s brother’s family. The Torah delights us with the way Uncle Laban serves Jacob his just deserts when he repeatedly changes Jacob’s wages as a shepherd. In a coup of measure-for-measure punishment, Laban deceptively marries Jacob to weak-eyed Leah in place of her younger sister: the beloved, beautiful Rachel.

But our parashah includes another profound, life-changing moment of connecting to God—a less famous one—experienced by Leah. After giving birth to three sons and naming each of them in accordance with aspects of her life experience, Leah gives birth again and says hapa’am odeh et Adonai (Gen. 29:35)—this time I will praise/thank/ Adonai—and names her son Judah (Yehudah, from odeh  which means God is to be Praise).