Midreshet Amit


Back to Main Page

A Meeting with G-d

By: Mrs. Aliza Schwartz

In this week’s Parsha, we meet Yaakov fleeing for his life from his murderous brother, Eisav. He reaches a “place”, Vayifga bamakom, no name given, and sleeps there. He dreams: a ladder rooted firmly on this earth, reaching the heights of heaven, with angels ascending and descending. And there, G-d speaks to him, promising him continuity, safety, security and a future return to the land of Israel. When Yaakov wakes up, his reaction is puzzling. “Indeed there is G-d in this place, and I did not know!” (28:16). Rashi comments that this “place” was none other than Har HaMoriah, the temple mount. How is it possible that Yaakov couldn’t sense the kedusha, the holiness of this very special place when he first arrived?

Often times, we are too preoccupied in our own lives to notice G-d. For Yaakov, his thoughts are elsewhere: on Eisav from whom he is escaping, and on Lavan to whom he is traveling. Into his troubled mind comes a vision of G-d, the angels, and the ladder. This encounter with G-d caught him off guard, as signaled by his reaction (G-d is here and I didn’t know!). He has done nothing to prepare for it. It is unexpected. This is a meeting brought about by G-d, not man. There are times when we search for G-d, and times when G-d searches for us. Vayifga bamakom literally means ‘he encountered’, unplanned, unscheduled. As for Yaakov, so it is for us. It sometimes feels as if we are waking from a deep sleep, realizing for the first time that G-d has been there all along. We were too preoccupied to notice. The actual place has not changed, but we have.

Often, these encounters take place literally or metaphorically at night. They happen when we are afraid and alone, vulnerable and scared. It is when we least expect it. We wake up and realize G-d has been there all along, and, just like Yaakov, our feelings of fear and despair turn into comfort and security. G-d is waiting to catch us, with outstretched arms. It is up to us to notice Him.