Calling out to God in Pain and Fear
This week’s Torah portion is a continuation of Jacob and his family’s return to Be’er Sheva from Haran.
Jacob knows that his brother Esau still holds great anger against him for having stolen their father Isaac’s first-born blessing. Knowing this, he sends some scouts ahead to get a feel for Esau’s state of mind. It turns out that at that very moment Esau is on his way to confront Jacob and his family.
When Jacob hears this, he fears for his life and decides to separate from his family in the hopes that they might survive whatever Esau has in store for them.
When he lies down to sleep the night before he will meet with Esau and pleads to God:
“I am unworthy of all the kindness that You have so steadfastly shown Your servant:...Deliver me, I pray, from the hand of my brother, from the hand of Esau.”
One can feel the pain and fear in Jacob’s prayer to God. He was completely alone, terrified for his life with nowhere to turn but God.
Many of us can relate to Jacob in this moment of vulnerability. There are times in our lives when we have felt helpless, exposed and afraid. We too have turned to God in prayer, and even without an answer, the simple act of expressing our feelings helps aid us in our time of despair.
Yonaton Raizel, an Israeli musician captures this feeling in a beautiful piece he wrote and sings using the words of Jacob’s prayer.
May listening to it as we prepare to enter Shabbat help set the tone for the next twenty-four hours.
Rabbi Bradley Tecktiel has been Midbar Kodesh Temple's spiritual leader since August 2008. Rabbi Tecktiel was ordained at the Jewish Theological Seminary of America in May of 1996. He holds two Bachelor of Arts degrees, one from List College and one from Columbia University. He also holds a Masters of Arts from the Jewish Theological Seminary.
You can follow him on Twitter @RabbiMKT.