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Experiencing the discomfort yielding greater awareness 

12/04/2019 11:59:28 AM


Kim Bodemer

The story of our Biblical ancestor, Jacob, continues this week as he flees his home after employing some less than honorable methods to secure his birthright. The evening he leaves home, Jacob finds himself alone, and uncertain of what lies ahead as he travels to his uncle’s house in Haran. He lays down to sleep and dreams of a ladder stretching from earth to heaven with angels ascending and descending on it. God, standing beside Jacob, renews the promises made to Abraham and Isaac for land and blessings. In addition, God vows to protect Jacob and be with him throughout his life. When Jacob awakes, he exclaims, “Surely God is in this place, and I did not know it."

Jacob’s “a ha moment” happens when he least expects it. Up to this point in the story, we don’t know of any direct interaction between Jacob and God. It isn’t until Jacob is by himself, on a journey that could be quite dangerous, that he has his spiritual awakening. Before leaving his home, he receives comfort and direction from his mother. Now, on his own, perhaps his vulnerability allows him to be open to God’s presence in his life. In next week’s Torah portion, Jacob will once again encounter God, on the evening before he is to reunite with his brother Esau.

In that Torah scene, Jacob is once again alone, uncertain and vulnerable.

I look to the stories we read in the Torah each week to offer insight and wisdom for today. For me, this week’s story shows that our darkest, loneliest and most uncomfortable moments can ultimately be moments of tremendous growth and insight. When we dropped our youngest daughter off for her freshman year of college, the dean of students challenged parents to allow our children the space to be uncomfortable and uncertain because in that space the most growing and learning would happen.

May we all experience the discomfort that yields greater awareness and connection.

Kim Bodemer is the Temple Senior Director of Education and Youth Engagement.

Mon, July 13 2020 21 Tammuz 5780