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Home   Uncategorized   D’var Torah: Vayeitzeh B’resheet 28:10-32:3

D’var Torah: Vayeitzeh B’resheet 28:10-32:3

At the very beginning of this week’s Parashah, Jacob, our third forefather, runs away from his home to Haran, his mother Rebekah’s birthplace. Along the way, he falls asleep and has a dream of angels ascending and descending a ladder – the famous “Jacob’s Ladder” story. Though he seems to stumble upon this holy place, this chance rendezvous with God changed Jewish destiny. Jacob may not have expected to meet God in that place, but apparently, he had been preparing throughout his life for this moment.

While none of us is Jacob, we are Jacob’s children and we too need to know that there will be moments when we are not as ready as we would have preferred, but our life experiences enable us to meet the challenge we are facing. Chance encounters can also be some of our most rewarding and valuable learning experiences.

Tuesday morning, our grade six and seven students had some new experiences that proved to be both valuable and enriching. Together with their peers from Az-Zahraa Islamic Academy, they ventured to the Downtown East Side of Vancouver. Armed with warm scarves, hats and gloves to hand out in the rainy, cold weather and lunch bags full of snacks that they packed the day before, they received a powerful education.

During the time in Vancouver, a few of the students were interviewed by a reporter for a local television station. Their responses to his questions were incredibly thoughtful and honest. Many had been apprehensive about the outing but felt surprisingly at ease, especially with a police escort. They felt honoured to be completing such necessary and holy volunteer work.

Back at Az-Zahraa Islamic Academy, the two groups of students, blending together as one, debriefed about their experience over a kosher pizza lunch. What did they already know but had now come face-to-face with? Many of the people that benefited from the warm clothing and food that the students provided were homeless. It was apparent that many of those people were struggling with very big issues, particularly addiction. However, most were polite and appreciative and dished out very sensible advice to our students.

This experience will be indelibly marked in their memories, as an act of Chesed (kindness) and Tikkun Olam (repairing the world).
Our students’ encounter with holiness was one that they were all able to handle and from which everyone involved¬†benefited. The trajectory of Jacob’s life was altered by his encounter with God. I believe on many levels the lives of our students have been changed by their experiences this week.

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