These and Those

Musings from Students of the Pardes Institute of Jewish Studies in Jerusalem

Parshat Vayetzei

Posted on November 20, 2015 by Tamar Benus

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The first thing I look up before I decide to travel anywhere is to check to see if:

1)there are kosher restaurants where I want to go

2) if there is a Chabad House

Luckily, I have always found what I was looking for.

In this week’s Parsha, Parshat Vayetzei, Yaakov is the one traveling, and eventually he does find exactly what he is searching for. In our parsha we hear the story of Yaakov’s individual life beginning to develop. In Perek 28, Pasuk 14 it reads:

וְהָיָ֤ה זַרְעֲךָ֙ כַּעֲפַ֣ר

הָאָ֔רֶץ וּפָרַצְתָּ֛ יָ֥מָּה וָקֵ֖דְמָה וְצָפֹ֣נָה וָנֶ֑גְבָּה וְנִבְרֲכ֥וּ בְךָ֛כָּל־מִשְׁפְּחֹ֥ת הָאֲדָמָ֖ה וּבְזַרְעֶֽךָ׃

And thy seed shall be as the dust of the earth, and thou shalt spread abroad to the west, and to the east, and to the north, and to the south. And in thee and in thy seed shall all the families of the earth be blessed.

This pasuk reveals the promise that the children of Yaakov will be as many as the dust of the earth and that the decedents will be spread across the globe, to all corners, to every part of the world. From one individual, the Jewish world will be populated.

I think though, if looked at closely, there is a deeper message. The text is telling us that Jews will be spread out. How is a Jewish nation going to survive so far apart from one another?

After reading through this Shabbat’s Haftarah I can suggest an answer.

In Sefer Hoshea Perek 14 Pasuk 3 says:

קְח֤וּ עִמָּכֶם֙ דְּבָרִ֔ים וְשׁ֖וּבוּ אֶל־יְהוָ֑ה

Take with you words, And return unto the LORD;

The focus here is on each individual. Each person should take with them their d’varim and return to HaShem. The Sefer HaChinuch comes and teaches us that in a time where there is no Beit HaMikdash, the “d’varim” we are returning to HaShem are the words of Torah and tefillah. This idea gives so much power to the voice of an individual.

We have the unique, once in a lifetime opportunity to spend time in the holiest city in the world learning our “d’varim,” forming our own words of Torah, and growing into the best individuals we can be.  We must keep in mind that we are the Yaakov’s of our generation, we are going to be “Paratzta from Pardes,” returning to our communities all over the world. Our mission as individuals this year is to collect and compile everything we can to bring back with us wherever we go in order to keep the Jews all over the world as one big, happy family.

The only way Jews can be  in “יָ֥מָּה וָקֵ֖דְמָה וְצָפֹ֣נָה וָנֶ֑גְבָּה  all over the world is if we take with us the “d’varim,”the words of Torah, and spread them.

The juxtaposition of these two texts in one Shabbat is intentional. Our parsha is focused on the individual growing into a community. Our Haftarah is focused on the community giving space for an individual.

In light of the recent terror attacks in Israel and France, it is our obligation as Jews to recognize the power we have, because we are blessed to have communities all over the world and we are intrinsically connected through the world. It is our role as young adults, living and studying in Israel, to spread a message of love, hope, peace and support to people around us.

Shabbat Shalom