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Haftarah Discussions: Vayeitzei



I. Contradictions: “My people is unsure about returning to Me; it is summoned to the Most High One, but it does not rise in unity.” (Hosea 11:7) Do not read “it is summoned to the Most High,” but “it is summoned to look up.” The people are unsure of themselves and what to do because they are confused by the question of how can we understand Free Choice with the concept of God’s Foreknowledge of all that will happen. Hoshea answers them, and instructs them to “look up to the heavens,” – Shamayim –, which is formed from two contradictory forces: Aish and Mayim – fire and water. The heavens represent the contradictions that exist all through creation. The prophet urges the people to accept that finite beings will ultimately confront contradictions and questions wherever they look. The only answer is to turn to God, Who is Infinite, and we will through attachment to Him, find peace. (Brit Avraham, Vayeitzei)

Does this answer satisfy you? How do you deal with such contradictions? Where in the portion can you find an example of Jacob dealing with contradictions?

II. Unity
“But it does not rise in unity.” God waits until we are unified, and then He will call to us and redeem us. This is why Jacob ordered his children to “Gather,” as one, before he could reveal their destinies. (Ach Pri Tevuah, Vayeitzei)

If I make a supreme effort to unify with others, and to unify others, but there are always those who distance themselves and refuse to unite with all of Israel, will I lose my opportunity for redemption because Israel as a whole lacks unity?

III. Fiery Love
“They will follow God when He calls, like a roaring lion, for when He roars the children will hasten from the west.” (Verse 10) The lion hints to the lion on the Divine Chariot (Ezekiel 1). It cries out and says, “Kadosh!” Its service is Love of God, and so shall be the service of Israel. (Likutei Torah, Bamidbar)

The Hebrew word for love, Ahava, derives from “heev haiv” – to singe. Ahava reflects fiery passion. Why is a lion, usually a symbol of great strength used to symbolize this level of Love of God?

IV. Levels of Faith
“Ephraim surrounded Me with lies and the House of Israel with deceit, but Judah enforces the mastery of God and is faithful to the Holy One.” (Hosea 12:1)There are different levels of Emunah – Belief in God, symbolized by these different names: The House of Israel speaks of faith as something external. The person acts with faith, but the faith does not permeate his being. Yehuda, “enforces the mastery,” meaning their faith masters, controls and directs them. Ephraim is the name used to describe people who act as though they believe, but they do not. (Beit Yaakov, Bamidbar)

How would we categorize our level of faith?

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