Midreshet Amit


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Parshat Vayetzei - Even in the Darkest Hour

By: Mrs. Miri Kwalwasser

Our Parsha begins with Yakov leaving the comforts of his parents’ home and his homeland in order to escape his brother’s wrath.  At the start of his journey, night falls and he is compelled to sleep.   While asleep, he dreams of a ladder which reaches from the earth all the way up to heaven, with heavenly angels ascending and descending upon it. Hashem appears to Yakov in his dream and tells him that he will be the father of a great nation which will inherit this land.  Hashem assures Yakov that He will safeguard him through all his travails and bring him back to his homeland.  Yakov’s reaction, upon awakening, is somewhat enigmatic. “Behold, God is in this place and I did not know”.  Is that all he could say after encountering Hashem and this holy vision?    For Yakov Avinu, the father of the Jewish People to make such a simplistic observation is unexpected.  The man whose essence is defined by his attachment and commitment to Hashem is surprised to discover God’s presence? 

Rabanit Yemima Mizrachi explains that in light of Yakov’s circumstances, his statement has much meaning and depth.  According to the Midrash, Hashem reveals to Yakov all the trials and tribulations that his people will endure in the generations to come.  His message to Yakov at the outset of this lonely and daunting journey is that just as he will be exiled and endure great suffering, so will his descendants for many years to come.  And Hashem’s guarantee to safeguard him is a private as well as a national promise.  This was probably one of the darkest hours of Yakov’s life.  Thus, he is ‘surprised’ to discover Hashem’s nearness at this time and place.  Yaakov discovers through this encounter that even when it seems that Hashem is hiding from us, He is very much there.  That amidst all the confusion and pain, Hashem is there to guide and protect us. 

This week’s Torah portion offers us this opportune message of hope and encouragement. As of late, the Jewish people as well as the world at large have experienced significant sorrow.  This week, hundreds buried their loved ones in Europe and a young bride to be is mourning for her father and brother, instead of celebrating with them on her wedding day.  When the world is full of senseless hatred and murder, it is difficult to find Hashem and to feel His presence.  Our challenge is to uncover the truth as Yakov did, and proclaim, “Behold, Hashem is in this place…” He is there to help us through tough times and guide us to a brighter future.  Our belief in Hashem as well as our devotion to fulfilling His mission will enable us to move forward.  May we merit to reach the light at the end of this long and dark tunnel.