Parashat Vayetizei, Genesis 28:10 – 32:3

Someone Is Always Watching!

 by Rabbi Robert S. Goldstein

In New England, people talk about two things: the weather and sports, both of which are reliably unpredictable! The New England Patriots’ football team is beloved and their star quarterback, Tom Brady, is revered. Last season he was accused of using underinflated footballs, a violation of league rules. When questioned, Brady claimed he had done nothing wrong, but refused to turn some electronic messages.

We live at a time of such technological advancement that there isn’t much that happens that isn’t recorded. Cameras are everywhere and our messages and e-mails can float around in cyberspace forever!

When Jacob left the security of his home in Beersheba and set out for the uncertainty of a new life in Haran, he was alone for the first time in his life. It seemed there was nobody watching. There was no Rebekah, his forceful and determined mother, to guide him, and no Esau. Though he had little in common with his twin brother, their lifelong struggle provided equilibrium in Jacob’s life.

On that first night away from home, Jacob had nothing . . . maybe a small rucksack with a few belongings he grabbed before his hasty departure. He made a pillow out of some small stones, fell into a deep sleep and dreamed of a ladder with angels going up and coming down. Before the dawn of the morning sun, God spoke to Jacob and reassured him: Remember I am with you (Genesis 28:15).

When Jacob awoke, the solitude of the night was replaced with a clear sense of mission. He declared confidently, “Truly, the Eternal is in this place, and I did not know it! (Genesis 28:16).

An awareness of God’s presence in our lives, particularly in the shadow of loneliness and fear, is comforting. And in our better days, when we are feeling confident and empowered, knowing we are the object of God’s constant gaze should inspire us to act with integrity, dignity, and honor.

Rabbi Robert S. Goldstein is the rabbi at Temple Emanuel in Andover, MA.

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