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A Small Thought on V’Yeitze
Jacob, fleeing from his brother Esau, stops on the way, falls asleep for the night and has a magnificent dream. He awakes from his sleep and declares, Surely God was in this place and I did not know it. The Midrash (Genesis Rabbah 69:7) quotes Rabbi Johanan who plays on the close connection between the words sleep-mi- henatho and study-mi-mishnato and suggests that Jacob arose from his learning and discovered God was in that place. Jacob, as explained by the Sefat Emet, discovers that despite being in the midst of studying Torah, there was an aspect of encountering God which even transcended Torah study.
I love to study and teach Torah. I am pretty traditional about this and not into meditation retreats and the like. But part of this Midrash that I find compelling is the element of the surprise of the discovery. We can do what we usually do, follow the routines, be sure of our surety, and then discover that we had not even known the true nature of the enterprise. Sometimes we do not even realize we were asleep. Sometimes we wake up and encounter God anew.
Pronounced: MIDD-rash, Origin: Hebrew, the process of interpretation by which the rabbis filled in “gaps” found in the Torah.
Pronunced: TORE-uh, Origin: Hebrew, the Five Books of Moses.