This week's Torah Portion: 


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וַיֵּצֵא יַעֲקֹב מִבְּאֵר שָׁבַע וַיֵּלֶךְ חָרָֽנָה

vayetze ya'akov mi'be'er sheva vayilekh charanah

"Ya'akov went out from Be'er-Sheva and traveled toward Haran."

Today’s portion is named Vayetze, because in the opening sequence of events, we find our main character, Ya’akov (Jacob) “going out” from Be’er-Sheva towards the land of Haran. The next few parash’ot read like a good action novel, so I want to encourage the readers to follow along closely in the actual Torah portion of their Bibles. Last week, I likened the action to that of the pace of a good Tom Clancy novel, complete with intrigue, suspense, and betrayal. However, the Torah is much more superior to any novel that a man could write, for, not only is it real life (non-fictional) action, it has the capacity to speak to each and every single individual, and bring about a real life change in their circumstances as well.

Ya’akov is on a journey, much like many of us today. From the beginning, his has been a life of struggle and competition. The harrowing events of last week’s parashah, and the theft of the family birthright, left him running from his angry brother ‘Esav, at the instruction of his mother Rivkah. Indeed, he would find himself running from his brother for a good part of his life, before he finally sets things straight. In a very real way, however, he is both running from something and running to something. He is running from the circumstances created by his selfish greed, while at the same time, he is running to the place where he believes he can be the man that he really should be. In a play on words, his first encounter with the supernatural is in a location that the Hebrew text calls “haMakom,” meaning, “the Place” (28:11). Traditional Judaism identifies haMakom as the very spot where Avraham offered up Yitz’chak, as well as the place where the future Temple would stand. For now, it was to Ya’akov, a fearful place. We’ll discuss the name later.
— Parashat Vayetze