formerly Akeret haBayit in Training

Monday, December 7, 2009

Weekly Aliyah (the first one and late one)

Today is the premiere of "Weekly Aliyah"! (scroll down for more information) If you don't have time to read the whole long thing (you would really enjoy doing so, there are a lot of nice things to learn!), just scroll to the bottom where you see the bullets and read that, and perhaps everything after that. I am just going to talk about the things that really stood out to me this week. I posted this yesterday, only to learn a lesson about how I need to study before I write, and that I should only post about the things that speak to me, instead of trying to tackle the whole parshah portion. The Torah is sacred, and I want to be very careful not to misinterpret or treat it lightly because of my ignorance or lack of understanding of the text.

Last Weeks Portion *click the links below for a summary, and the full text in Hebrew and English*
Parshah 8 (of the yearly cycle) : Vayishlach (He Sent) (Genesis 32:4-36:43)

This past week we found Ya'akov (Jacob) facing a meeting with his brother Esav (Esau). Now, we saw in the portion before this, in Genesis 28:10, that Ya'akov was leaving his father's house because Esav wished to kill him, for taking his birthright and his blessing. Ya'akov stays many years with his father in law and gains four wives, 11 children, and much wealth. He eventually leaves his father in laws house (is there a pattern here?), and ends up having to face his brother (remember, they are twins).Ya'akov again fears for his life, but not only his, his family's as well. He decides to break up his camp into two groups, and strives to protect those he loves most (his wife Rachel and her son,Joseph) by putting them in the back. He does this, and then he seeks G-D's face. Here is what he prays.
"Then Ya'akov said, "God of my father Avraham and God of my father Yitz'chak, ADONAI, who told me, 'Return to your country and your kinsmen, and I will do you good'.I'm not worthy of all the love and faithfulness you have shown your servant, since I crossed the Yarden with only my staff. But now I have become two camps.Please! Rescue me from my brother 'Esav! I'm afraid of him, afraid he'll come and attack me, without regard for mothers or children.You said, 'I will certainly do you good and make your descendants as numerous as the grains of sand by the sea, which are so many they can't be counted."
Isn't that a beautiful prayer?! I think that Ya'akov was a humble man. I especially love where he says that he is not worthy of all G-D's love and faithfulness. Do you ever feel like that? Especially when we are in need, and the HaShem fills it with such gentleness and might, that it is just inconceivable how he can take notice of our petty trials. This reminds me of the Psalm I read this week. Psalm 8, verse 5(4).
"What are mere mortals, that you concern yourself with them; humans, that you watch over them with such care?"

When I mess up, or think about my past mistakes, and where I err now, I think of that verse. How faulty we are! Yet how infinitely greater is He, that we can overcome through Him! And Him alone!
As you probably know, Ya'akov's meeting with his brother went extremely well, though they still went their separate ways. I suppose Esav was consoled with his wealth. As family, perhaps they just couldn't stay mad at each other. Today, my mother gave my brother and I a serious talk about how we are the only blood family that we will have, that can connect us to our parents. Besides our relationship with them (our parents), our relationship as siblings is the only other one, and if that is broken are mismanaged, than our family is missing something. Imagine being separated from your siblings for years, decades, or forever! Family is important, and siblings are the ones that have to carry it on! Don't take it for granted, and ask G-d to teach you to value your siblings and to better your relationship with them. On my sidebar I have a link to the Mally siblings website, and they have an awesome resource on this topic. Its a book titled "How to make Brothers and Sisters Best Friends", and I highly recommend it.

This parshah portion closes with further accounts of Ya'akov's travels, and a record of the genealogy of Ya'akov and Esav.There is so much that can be learned from this parshah. Here are the points that I tried to touch on, or neglected to.

* Ya'akovs (Jacobs) humble attitude towards G-d and others is an example of a very important trait. How can we learn from this attitude that Ya'akov had before HaShem, and do you think it is important?
* Siblings are important! Ya'akov and Esav's relationship was broken, but then they reconciled. Is there something you should reconcile with a sibling, or even a family member?

Now, the final and most important question is, when pursuing all scripture, and today,
"How does this apply to your life?!"

Before I close this post, I would like to add something that I was meditating on. In my Womens Siddur. During the Bedtime Shema / Hamapil, there is a prayer that is repeated three times. It says-
For your salvation do I long HaShem. I do long, HaShem, for your salvation. HaShem, for your salvation I do long.
It occured to me, that perhaps this represents a certain aspect of the process of salvation, or coming to HaShem. The first sentence would be a representation of how you feel when you first realize that you need His help and salvation. "For your salvation do I long", as if you are saying , "Now I do long for it, HaShem." The second sentence would be the focus on the firm conviction of your need for Him and His salvation, and your acceptance of it. The third sentence would perhaps be a modeling of how on the journey of your relationship with Abba, you continue to long for His salvation, and to be humbled by your need for it. I hope this makes sense, and that it shows the beauty of the Siddur!

I hope you enjoyed this "Weekly Aliyah", and I hope you leave some comments! Join me next Sunday to discuss parshah Vayeshev , where we will discover the story of Yosef (Joseph)!!!

*All scripture, except for the links above, is taken from the Complete Jewish Bible* *All emphasis is mine*

I just wanted to add on a separate note, that it snowed for the first time here on Shabbat! About an inch or two of slushy like ice, but pleasant to see nonetheless! Hope you are enjoying the weather wherever you are!

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