There’s No Place Like Home

Parashat Vayeitzei

Having grown up in the days just before the information revolution, I remember living life according to the calendar of the three television networks. A movie like “The Wizard of Oz” was only available during the time of the year the network holding the rights chose to air it, and the annual prime-time broadcast was a major event in my house.
As I got older, and more familiar with the film (although nowhere nearly as familiar as my own children who have watched it on video hundreds of times!), and after my father finally broke down and bought a color TV, I noticed that the Land of Oz is in living color, in contrast with the sepia toned Kansas scenes.

In this week’s sidra , Jacob (Yaakov) has a technicolor encounter with the divine. Unlike the rather cut and dry prophetic moments of his father and grandfather (although no less powerful!) Yaakov needs to be in a dream state to process the vivid imagery about the ladder reaching into the next world, and the swirling energies simultaneously ascending and descending.

Yaakov had to be lying down for this, because G-d’s promise to increase his offspring like the dust of the earth does not reference the seemingly unreachable stars of the heavens, but to the very ground he is sleeping on. Yaakov is charged with bringing down the lofty spiritual ideas of his father and grandfather to the physical world he is part of, as well as elevating the physical world upward towards the spiritual.

The result is a transcendental moment, a merging of the upper and lower worlds, and the result is the experience of HaMakom -The Place, a point where G-d is experienced in the physical world. This establishment of The Place becomes a node or access point to the divine. It is no surprise the Yaakov calls this Place, the physical house of G-d the “Shaar HaShamayim”, the gate of heaven.

By integrating traditional ritual into our day to day life we constantly have the opportunity to experience HaMakom.
Nowhere is this more evident than in our own homes on Shabbat (and here at the Sixth Street Community Synagogue, your “Home Away From Home”-ed.) and our Shabbat table becomes our “Shaar Shamayim”, and this becomes, for a fleeting moment, the holiest spot on earth. We spend the rest of our weekdays trying to recapture it but it is futile. Only Shabbat can give us that feeling.

Now just click your heels three times and say, “There’s no place like home…..”

Shabbat Shalom,
Rabbi Greg