Torah Weekly

For the week ending 20 November 2004 / 7 Kislev 5765

Parshat Vayeitzei

by Rabbi Yaakov Asher Sinclair -
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Fleeing from Esav, Yaakov leaves Beer Sheva and sets out for Charan, the home of his mother's family. After a 14-year stint in the Torah Academy of Shem and Ever, he resumes his journey and comes to Mount Moriah, the place where his father Yitzchak was brought as an offering, and the future site of the Beit Hamikdash. He sleeps there and dreams of angels going up and down a ladder between Heaven and earth. G-d promises him the Land of Israel, that he will found a great nation and that he will enjoy Divine protection. Yaakov wakes and vows to build an altar there and tithe all that he will receive. Then he travels to Charan and meets his cousin Rachel at the well. He arranges with her father, Lavan, to work seven years for her hand in marriage, but Lavan fools Yaakov, substituting Rachels older sister, Leah. Yaakov commits himself to work another seven years in order to also marry Rachel. Leah bears four sons: Reuven, Shimon, Levi and Yehuda, the first Tribes of Israel. Rachel is barren, and in an attempt to give Yaakov children, she gives her handmaiden Bilhah to Yaakov as a wife. Bilhah bears Dan and Naftali. Leah also gives Yaakov her handmaiden Zilpah, who bears Gad and Asher. Leah then bears Yissachar, Zevulun, and a daughter, Dina. Hashem finally blesses Rachel with a son, Yosef. Yaakov decides to leave Lavan, but Lavan, aware of the wealth Yaakov has made for him, is reluctant to let him go, and concludes a contract of employment with him. Lavan tries to swindle Yaakov, but Yaakov becomes extremely wealthy. Six years later, Yaakov, aware that Lavan has become dangerously resentful of his wealth, flees with his family. Lavan pursues them but is warned by Hashem not to harm them. Yaakov and Lavan agree to a covenant and Lavan returns home. Yaakov continues on his way to face his brother Esav.


Heavens Gate

"This is none other than the abode of G-d, and this is the gate of the Heavens" (28:17)

As far as architecture is concerned, the Western Wall cannot compete with the Taj Mahal, or the Sistine Chapel, or any number of Far Eastern places of worship.

Yet that row of enigmatic stone blocks and what is beyond them has an unparalleled draw on the hearts and minds of man.

The Muslims may look to Mecca and Medina, but they would like nothing better than to bury their leaders on that hill. The Catholic Church may have its seat of power in the Vatican, but their eye is constantly on Jerusalem.


On that small hill called Har HaMoriah, the central events of world history have been played out: On that hill lies the stone that was the first physical existence that G-d created. It is called the "foundation stone." From that stone, G-d extruded the entire creation. That stone is the bridge between this reality and the reality beyond.

On that same hill, Avraham brought up Yitzchak as an offering in the ultimate test of his faithfulness to G-d.

And, in this weeks Torah portion, Yaakov saw a vision of the ladder with its feet planted on the ground and its head reaching to the heavens. That place has always been, and is to this day, the gate of Heaven.

On that hill stood the two Holy Temples and very soon the third one will stand there again. Subconsciously, the world understands this, but it cannot verbalize that knowledge. That intuitive feeling manifests itself as a stream of resolutions in the United Nations about the necessity to preserve the international nature of the city of Jerusalem.

In this weeks Torah portion Yaakov prayed at Har Moriah. After completing his prayer Yaakov suddenly heard the voices of angels saying, "Yaakov has arrived, the great Yaakov who casts light on the world like the sun!" Yaakov understood that he was overhearing a conversation in Heaven. From Yaakovs words, "the Shechina (Divine Presence) rests in this place," we learn that the Shechina rests on Har Hamoria forever. Not only did It rest there when the two Holy Temples were standing, but It is there to this day.

When you stand at that Wall, you are standing at the gateway of Heaven. If Yaakov could hear what they were saying in Heaven, surely in Heaven they can hear what we are saying in this world. When you pray at the Wall, it is as if you are praying in front of the Kisei HaKavod, "the Heavenly Throne." This is Heavens gate the gate that is open to all prayers.

No wonder then that the eyes of the world are constantly on the Wall.

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