Torah: Vayetzei (Genesis 28:10 -32:3) Haftarah: (Hosea 12:13-14:10)
First night of Hanukkah is on Sunday, December 18, 2022/ 25 Kislev 5783
The Torah portion contains Jacob’s heavenly-ladder dream, Jacob becomes a member of Laban’s family, Jacob marries Leah, and works another seven years to acquire Rachel for a wife and Jacob’s flight from Laban.
One concept and value from the Torah this Sabbath is “Bargaining with G-d.” The Torah tells us that just after Jacob awoke from his dream, he made a promise to G-d in the form of a prayer: “If G-d remains with me, if G-d protects me on this journey and gives me bread to eat and clothes to wear, and if I return safely to my father’s house – the Lord shall be my G-d…and of all that You give me I will always set aside a tithe for you” (Genesis 28:20-22). Biblical commentators have been bothered by the fact that Jacob in this vow seems to be bargaining with G-d. Rather than promising what he will or will not do, which is the accepted form of a vow, Jacob laces his commitment with conditions. This is not a “proper” prayer.
Nechama Liebowitz, a noted scholar of Torah, writes that no deal is involved in Jacob’s vow. What Jacob meant was that if G-d did not grant him to return to his father’s house, how would he be able to erect a temple on the spot? All that Jacob’s vow implied was: “Give me the possibility of serving You, O G-d.”
Thus “Truly G-d is in this place and I, I did not know.” (Genesis 28:16)
How many times does a person think about or pray to G-d? At these unique moments is G-d not with the person? G-d is everywhere, and it is up to each of us to realize that He hears us, knows each of our intentions. As each of us looked forward to Hanukkah our ancestors, the Maccabees, thought about if G-d would be with them against the large Greek army. This thought struck them like a flash of lightning that their actions to fight and they would win their freedom.
Jews light their Hanukkiah (menorah for Hanukkah) that contains 8 candles with 1 helper candle, called the shammash. Hebrew is read right to left. One places the candles right to left, however the kindling is done with the newest candle first (left to right).
While our ancestors were cleaning the Holy Temple in Jerusalem, they found a small jar with pure oil. The oil should have lasted one day, but lasted throughout Hanukkah eight days. * Midrash tells about the olive being from Noah’s olive branch that the dove brought to the ark.
Why do Jews play with dreidels? During the times of the Maccabees Jews were forbidden to teach Torah. When the soldiers came upon the teachers and their young students they would take out the top and pretend to be gambling.
Each letter in Hebrew and its meaning:
Nun = Nes is Miracle: action – Take nothing from the pot.
Gimmel = Gadol is Big: action – Take ALL!
Hay = Hayah means Happened: Take Half.
Shin = Sham means There (Israeli Dreidels have a Pay = PO means Here) action: Add 1 to the pot.
Nes Gadol Hayah Sham! A Great Big Miracle Happened There!
If you use the chocolate Gelt, please make sure your children don’t hold them in their hands, the chocolate will melt!
Peanuts used to be used, however too many youngsters have nut allergies.
Pennies work well, too!
Rabbi Helene Ainbinder