This week’s Parsha is the story of Yakov building his family from scratch. He arrives in Babylon with nothing and leaves with four wives, twelve children, sheep, camels, and servants. It’s a long and difficult journey, Yakov works himself to exhaustion everyday.. Yakov breaks his back for twenty years under his uncle Lavan and miraculously he never loses his moral compass or his ethical focus. Why?
At the beginning of our Parsha Yakov has a remarkable meeting. He spends the night at the sight of the future Beit Hamikdash and meets G-d there. He has an amazing vision, greater than any other we have seen thus far in the Torah. Remarkably, this is not the point of our Parsha, or Yakov’s life. The revelation G-d grants him is extraordinary, but it is not the essential of Jewish life, the rest of the Parsha is. G!d reveals himself to Yakov to give him the strength to maintain his morality while living in a world, and house, that is permeated with corruption. The point of Jewish spiritual practice is not for us to divorce ourselves of the physical but rather to allow us to stay engaged in this world even when it threatens our values.
Rabbi Yehoshua Ellis