Torah – Genesis 28:10-32:3 Haftarah – Hosea 12:13-14:10 Brit Chadashah – John 1:19-51Vayetze (and he went out) is our focus for this week as we study parasha (portion.)
We will be staying in chapter 28 of Genesis and looking at a few things you will likely find interesting. Hopefully, this study will whet your appetite to dig a little deeper on your own as you study G-d’s Word.
Genesis 28:11-22, “So he came to a certain place and stayed there all night, because the sun had set. And he took one of the stones of that place and put it at his head, and he lay down in that place to sleep. 12 Then he dreamed, and behold, a ladder [was] set up on the earth, and its top reached to heaven; and there the angels of G-d were ascending and descending on it. 13 And behold, the L-RD stood above it and said: “I [am] the L-RD G-d of Abraham your father and the G-d of Isaac; the land on which you lie I will give to you and your descendants. 14 “Also your descendants shall be as the dust of the earth; you shall spread abroad to the west and the east, to the north and the south; and in you and in your seed all the families of the earth shall be blessed. 15 “Behold, I [am] with you and will keep you wherever you go, and will bring you back to this land; for I will not leave you until I have done what I have spoken to you.” 16 Then Jacob awoke from his sleep and said, “Surely the L-RD is in this place, and I did not know [it].” 17 And he was afraid and said, “How awesome [is] this place! This [is] none other than the house of G-d, and this [is] the gate of heaven!” 18 Then Jacob rose early in the morning, and took the stone that he had put at his head, set it up as a pillar, and poured oil on top of it. 19 And he called the name of that place Bethel; but the name of that city had been Luz previously. 20 Then Jacob made a vow, saying, “If G-d will be with me, and keep me in this way that I am going, and give me bread to eat and clothing to put on, 21 “so that I come back to my father’s house in peace, then the L-RD shall be my G-d. 22 “And this stone which I have set as a pillar shall be G-d’s house, and of all that You give me I will surely give a tenth to You.”
Beginning in verse 11 “place” or “the place” is mentioned a total of four times in the above listed verses. This repetition draws our attention to investigate deeper what is going on, as G- d is trying to get our attention and show us something important.
Ha Macom (The Place) has more than one meaning. On the pashot, or surface level, it is indicating location. On a deeper level, it is a reference to G-d Himself. The sages teach that the Creator, Elohim is “The Place” of the world, but the world is not His “place.” In other words, it shows that the world as we know it exists within a place, “The Place” which is in G-d. This space, if you will, is here and dependent upon G-d whereas G-d is not dependent upon this world for His existence. Hopefully, that is as clear in writing as it is in my head at the moment!
Note the lead in to “”Place” in verse 11. Depending on the version you read, it is translated in English as “He came to”, “He came upon”, He lighted upon” and so forth. These various translations come from the Hebrew word “Paga.” Paga is translated more accurately as, “to encounter, meet, entreat, make intercession, join, fall upon, touch, among some other definitions.
I especially like the following definitions and think they are particularly important in context of what is written and what occurred there. Encounter, intercession and touch make a whole lot more sense to me. Instead of he came to the place it could read, “he made intercession with G-d (The Place.). He touched G-d (The Place). He encountered G-d (The Place.) Regardless of which one you like the best, I think you’ll see that there is more going on here than meets the eye when reading only the English translation.
I also especially like when Ya’akov (Jacob) names the place at Bethel, or the House of G-d. We are told that the name of the place formerly was Luz, or light. In keeping with the teaching of the sages, this place is not only the location G-d selected for the Holy Temple, but they teach that this is literally the place where Heaven and Earth are connected. The stone where upon the Holy of Holies would rest was the very stone that was first created when creating the Eretz (Earth.)
Now that your appetite has been stirred, explore the Scriptures for yourself and see what you can discover! Shalom!