Monthly Archives: November 2015

Nov 26

Shabbat – 20th/21st November 2015

By SAMS IT Administrator | Weekly Words Archive

This week the parasha, Vayetze, opens with the travels of Jacob from his home with his parents, Isaac and Rebecca, to his new home in Haran, where his grandfather Abraham came from.  He has just fled his home due to the events of last week, where he tricked his father and cheated his brother out his blessing.  And now, understandably, Esau is angered and wishes to kill Jacob.  Rebecca, fearing for his life, sends Jacob away to her ancestral lands in Haran.  Jacob stops for the night and is completely alone, completely vulnerable.

It is in this luminal space that he has the encounter with the angles and his first with God.  He has let go of what came before and finally opens to what may come ahead.  Jacob is one of my favourite characters in the bible because of the humanity he displays and the growth he undergoes throughout his story.  I remember in many of my travels and places where I have lived, there is always a time when I have left where I was, yet have not yet arrived where I am going.  It is in those moments, when I have a deep encounter with myself.  What have I accomplished where I was?  Who was I in that place?  What do I want in my new home?  Who will I be there?  These conversations come about as I move from one destination to another, usually through a long plane ride.  Staring off into the horizon, I am alone with my thoughts and can be truly and brutally honest.

Jacob has that space on the mountain where he dreams, when he is returning to the home of grandfather.  We all have that space whether going on journey to and from our ‘ancestral lands’ or simply going to and from work or school.  Those in-between spaces, where we occasionally find ourselves, allow us to re-examine our lives without the distractions of the home, work, school, or other permanent structures.  By taking ourselves out, as Jacob did, we leave ourselves open to the possibility of greater self-discovery and to acknowledge what Jacob discovers, “God was in this place and I did not know it.”

Nov 19

Shabbat – 13th/14th November 2015

By SAMS IT Administrator | Weekly Words Archive

It’s the time of year, when in our yearly cycle, we arrive at the story of Jacob, my favourite character. It is in this portion that Jacob, through the help of his mother Rebecca, deceives his father Isaac through an elaborate ruse and steals his brother’s, Esau, blessing. Jacob wears the clothing of Esau so that he will smell like him; he cooks a meal just like Esau; he puts a woollen cloth on his arm so that he will feel like the hairy Esau; and finally, Isaac is blind and cannot see who it is really who is serving him a meal. However, the sound of Jacob’s voice cannot be masked, and Isaac does in fact realize, or think, that the voice is the voice of Jacob, but the rest of his senses tell him otherwise. Was Isaac really being blind or simply choosing not to see?

How many times in our lives do we have the information we need, but we choose not to hear? How many of us have seen a sign that says ‘Wet Paint’ and the first thing we do is touch it – and end up with wet paint on our hands? We saw the sign, we perhaps even smelled the wet paint, yet we did not believe what we saw, or hear what we had heard. So many times the answers we seek, the information we need, is right in front of us and we only need the faith to trust what we see and hear.

The tactile physical sense is sometimes too dominant. It can lead us astray if we ignore the gifts of discernment and judgment. By taking in the big picture, incorporating the entire scene our senses are reporting, can we truly make an informed decision without jumping to conclusions?

Nov 12

Shabbat – 6th/7th November 2015

By SAMS IT Administrator | Weekly Words Archive

It’s the time of year, when in our yearly cycle, we arrive at the story of Jacob, my favourite character. It is in this portion that Jacob, through the help of his mother Rebecca, deceives his father Isaac through an elaborate ruse and steals his brother’s, Esau, blessing. Jacob wears the clothing of Esau so that he will smell like him; he cooks a meal just like Esau; he puts a woollen cloth on his arm so that he will feel like the hairy Esau; and finally, Isaac is blind and cannot see who it is really who is serving him a meal. However, the sound of Jacob’s voice cannot be masked, and Isaac does in fact realize, or think, that the voice is the voice of Jacob, but the rest of his senses tell him otherwise. Was Isaac really being blind or simply choosing not to see?

How many times in our lives do we have the information we need, but we choose not to hear? How many of us have seen a sign that says ‘Wet Paint’ and the first thing we do is touch it – and end up with wet paint on our hands? We saw the sign, we perhaps even smelled the wet paint, yet we did not believe what we saw, or hear what we had heard. So many times the answers we seek, the information we need, is right in front of us and we only need the faith to trust what we see and hear.

The tactile physical sense is sometimes too dominant. It can lead us astray if we ignore the gifts of discernment and judgment. By taking in the big picture, incorporating the entire scene our senses are reporting, can we truly make an informed decision without jumping to conclusions?

Nov 05

Shabbat – 30th/31st October 2015

By SAMS IT Administrator | Weekly Words Archive

Of all the episodes in Abraham’s story, this week’s Parasha, Vayera, tells us perhaps of his finest hour.  God has informed him that the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah will be destroyed because of the evil and immoral people who make up its population.  Abraham has the audacity to stand there and argue with God and, more importantly, makes his point heard and causes God to reconsider.  Because of the merit of the potential few righteous people that could still be there, the city should be spared, says Abraham.  The entire society should not be cursed and fated for destruction because of the evils of the majority; it should be saved because of the goodness of the few.  This powerful conversation firmly establishes Abraham as the forefather of our tradition, not only because he argued, but because he stood up and tried to make his voice heard for good, even though ultimately, the cities are still destroyed.

Unfortunately, sometimes, our efforts are not always enough, but that should never stop us from making the attempt, even to the highest authority.

I pray that we will always have the courage to make a stand, in spite of seemingly overwhelming odds, to make certain that our voices are always heard.