Congregation Etz Hayim at Hollis Hills Bayside

The consolidated communities of Hollis Hills Bayside Jewish Center and Marathon Jewish Community Center

Shabbat Vayetzei 5776

At the end of last week’s portion, Toldot, Ya’akov has no choice but to leave home. It’s not safe; Esav has threatened to kill him once dad is gone. Both Rivkah and Yitzhak, in separate conversations, advise him to head east, to his uncle Lavan’s homestead.
 
Put simply, this week in Parshat Vayetzei, Ya’akov is an asylum-seeker.
The noise from both sides of the refugee debate has been deafening this week, in the aftermath of the savage terrorist attacks in Paris. I have no interest in contributing to that noise with absolutist statements that oversimplify an incredibly complex issue. So, instead, I want to explore the theme through the lens of the Torah’s narrative.
 
It’s somewhat ironic that the most fitting model of hospitality that we might explore is that of Lavan, who’s usually seen as the bad guy in the story. But he’s the one who opens the flaps of his tent to Ya’akov. In analyzing the parshah, I detected four lessons that a sovereign state could apply to its policy on refugees. But I’m just one reader; click this link to read an English translation of the portion. I look forward to talking about it on Shabbat morning.
Wishing you a Shabbat Shalom,
 
Rabbi David Wise