Friday, November 24, 2017

Our Vision, Our House of God - D'var Torah - Parashat Vayeitzei - November 24, 2017

House of God.
This is where we are
Every week
Or maybe a few times a week
For some of us....every day.
What happens here can be inspirational
Or regular and ordinary, anything from maintenance and administration
To turning lights on and off. 
But it’s still the house of God.
So Jacob left his home after receiving the first born son’s blessing
Though he was a second-born
Incurring the wrath of his twin brother Esau
But fulfilling the desires and design of his mother Rebekah, who believed she was making God’s will come to pass.
She was probably right that it would be Jacob to carry on the spiritual legacy of the family.
Part of that legacy would be shaped as he set out on his own,
And laid down in a particular place for a night.
He set stones as a headrest
And dreamed.
There was a ladder reaching to the sky with angels going up and down on it.
And God stood with him, right next to him,
Telling him,
“I will give this land to your descendants, who shall be like the dust of the earth, and you shall spread out to the west and the east and the north and the south. Through you and your descendants all the families of the earth shall find blessing. And here I am, with you: I will watch over you wherever you go, and I will bring you back to this soil. I will not let go of you as long as I have yet to do what I have promised you.״
Jacob awoke from this night-vision. 
He was scared, excited, inspired and hopeful all at once.
He realized.....the place was a BEIT EIL, a house of God, and this house of God was a gateway or stairway to heaven....or to the divine.
How did Jacob know that God hadn’t been with him all along?
What was important was that, as he was alone, away from home, just when Jacob was feeling the most vulnerable, 
God’s presence in his life came clear to him. 
The floodgates of truth and spirit had been opened for him. 
Even without a name change - that would come later- Jacob was different. 
“Surely God was in this place and I, I did not know,” he said.
At this point, he knew, and would count on God’s support
For the rest of his life.
How do we know that a divine presence doesn’t accompany us along our life’s journey? 
How do we know that our BEIT EIL - our congregation, Beth El, isn’t, for us, a gateway to heaven
A connection to the divine
Through our prayers
Through our study
Through our building of community
Through the ways in which we try to engender in one another
The values of respect, justice, compassion, kindness, and peace?
How do we know that every word we say, inside and outside this building, doesn’t count in God’s eyes and in the eyes of others?
God is in this place and sometimes, we, we do not know.
But if we remembered, and recognized God’s presence every minute, every day,
we, like Jacob, might be changed.

In our own personal and communal vision, may the angels above us lead us to new heights, lofty goals, and high standards for who we are, what we do, and who we can become. 

Above - Genesis Window with the Ladder in Jacob's dream theme at Temple Beth Sholom, Topeka, KS
Below - Neir Tamid/Eternal Light with Ladder in Jacob's dream theme at Temple Beth-El, Las Cruces, NM


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