D'var Torah Vayetzei - “When a Cigar is a Holy Community”
Nov. 20, 2015 - Congregation Kol Ami

“Sometimes, a cigar is just a cigar.” This statement usually attributed to Sigmund Freud (although, it’s likely not his statement - http://quoteinvestigator.com/2011/08/12/just-a-cigar/) teaches us that something benign may actually be benign. 

In this week’s Torah portion, Vayetze, we have the opposite lesson - sometimes a place in the middle of nowhere is much more than just a place in the middle of nowhere. 

Fleeing his brother Esau, Jacob leaves Beer-sheva and sets out on a journey. One night, at an unidentified point in the journey, he encounters an unidentified place and sets up a simple camp using a rock as a pillow. And Jacob dreams. The story of his dream is best illustrated in Everett Fox’s translation: “Here, a ladder was set up on the earth, its top reaching the heavens, and here: messengers of God were going up and down on it. And here: Adonai was standing over against him. God said: ‘I am Adonai, the God of Avraham your father and the God of Yitzchak. The land on which you lie I give to you and to your seed. Your seed will be like the dust of the earth; you will burst forth, to the Sea, to the east, to the north, to the Negev. All the clans of the soil will find blessing through you and through your seed! Here, I am with you, I will watch over you wherever you go and will bring you back to this soil; indeed, I will not leave you until I have done what I have spoken to you.’

“Ya’akov awoke from his sleep and said: ‘Why, Adonai is in this place, and I, I did not know it!’ He was awestruck and said: ‘How awe-inspiring is this place! This is none other than a house of God!’” (Gen. 28:12-17, Fox) Jacob then takes the stones that he had used that night, creates a monument to God in that unidentified, unknown place that had been insignificant, and names that place, “Beit El, House of God.” (Gen. 28:19)

Those stones were no longer just stones. 

I want to draw our attention to two key Hebrew words in this story: “Hinei” and “Makom.” Literally, “hinei” means “here,” but more fittingly it is a word meant to draw our attention to something important. For example, when we sing “Hinei mah tov umanaim shevet achim gam yachad,” we often see a translation of “How good and how pleasant it is that brothers and sisters dwell together.” (Psalm 133:1, trans. Mishkan T’filah) That translation is not wrong, but there is one word that does not get translated: “hinei.” Beginning this line from Psalms with “hinei” is meant to focus us to the importance of what comes next. “Hinei” can be thought to mean, “Lo and behold,” or as a friend of Student Rabbi Shefrin taught us, “hinei” can mean, “Dude!”

The text of our story wants us to pay attention, not necessarily to the place itself, but to its significance. Our story of Jacob’s dream begins with three instances of “hinei,” and one more when God says, “v’hinei anochi imach - and hey, I am with you.” When Jacob lay down to sleep for the night, he had no idea this sacred encounter would happen. But the text is begging us to understand that this is a sacred moment that is happening in an anywhere kind of place.

Indeed, the other key-word in this story is “Makom,” which means “place.” It is used six times and — like “hinei” — is meant to make us pay attention that something special, something Divine is going to happen. “In post biblical Hebrew, ‘makom’ became a term for God, so that the setting for the ensuing dream seemed predestined.” (Plaut commentary) Robert Alter notes, “This is the tale of transformation of an anonymous place through vision into a ‘House of God.’” 

The Talmud (Chullin 91b) gives us a story that this anonymous place is actually Mount Moriah in Jerusalem, the site of the binding of Isaac on the altar, and later, the Holy Temple. Although most commentators do not share this view, the Talmud is making the point that this place has spiritual significance for Jacob and, therefore, should have significance for us.

Maimonides, however, feels that places and objects are not holy, per se. Sometimes, a site is just a site. The holiness and enhanced spirituality happens when people use those sacred moments and sacred sites to improve themselves and their communities. 

But Jacob does not see this site as a mountain, as Abraham did (Gen. 22). Nor does Jacob see this site as a field, as Isaac did (Gen. 27:3). Jacob sees this site as a house — “Beit El - a House of God.” Rabbi Laurence Groffman teaches that this is meant to “remind us that in addition to residing in the universality of the mountain and the field, we must keep our own house in order. We must take great care to nurture our own distinctive identities and tend to the needs of our people.” 

We are more than a congregation. We are more than a collection of individuals who come together in a certain place in the middle of LaBrea on our journeys. We are a holy community - a kehilah kenosha. 

We recognize that the messengers of God, these angels, started on the ground and then went up. We, too, can take our message of love and raise it up; carrying with us the messengers of God who fight for the rights of equality for all, so that not one more person is senselessly killed because of who they love or what gender they are. We, too, can take our message of peace and raise it up; carrying with us the messengers of God who fight for our security, so that not one more person is senselessly killed because they went to a concert in Paris or a hotel in Bali or vacationed in Egypt. We, too, can take our message of community and raise it up; carrying with us Jacob’s revelation that God is found in each other, in this place, when we open ourselves to that holiness. 

We are Congregation Kol Ami, the voice of My people. 

That voice. 

Can you hear it? 

Shabbat shalom.


12/01/2015 9:38am



Very well said. I agree with the scripture. I also agree that sometimes what seems like insignificant to our human eye like what seems an idle state of being, is actually a portion of time being used by the Lord so we can rest and think things over. It is better to be nowhere than be nothing. There are always worse things that can happen like sickness and death and these are things we do not wish for others to have but to those who had it, there is still a lesson learned and for this we should all be thankful.

03/19/2017 8:50pm

Alpha Monster Advanced and muscle spasms don't get better with domestic remedies you may need to go to the medical doctor. frequently muscle relaxants are Alpha Monster Advanced prescribed to relieve muscle tightness. muscle relaxants are a brief time period answer supposed.


05/06/2016 5:57am

The realization of our goals and dreams are constrained only by our limiting beliefs.

05/20/2016 5:23am

No doubt that cigar is kind of smoking so we should try our best stay away from it because it is not good for health. We can confirm it by doctors of healthcare experts if we are serious about our health.

03/21/2017 12:13am

Endovex Male Enhancement knowing what you're up in opposition to is critical especially when you take them for the first time.once you and your medical doctor have agreed Endovex Male Enhancement to your weight management regimen you have to attempt to follow.


06/05/2016 11:15pm

I also believe and totally relate to that phrase. There were times I invited friends, females in this case, for a lunch or dinner and they seem to be anxious or over excited about it and would ask, is there a special reason for this invitation? Then I would say, sometimes a dinner is just a dinner. Anyway, the story of Jacob and his encounter with the angel is a good and amazing story in the bible. I believe it teaches us all a lesson.

06/16/2016 3:52am

If you apply these kinds of methods for increasing traffic on your own webpage, I am sure you will notice the change in few days.


I like this article, written in very good, praise! Thanks!

10/12/2016 4:28am



Everything is given in this world. You can lose your mastery, riches, your term and acclaim, your excellence. It is the only control of vision that won't ever surrendered and is dependably close by us.


Instructive organizations are the best place to prepare understudies for their future so framework and environment ought to be great of that place. So understudies won't squander their time in pointless exercises like battling and so forth. We know understudies who keen on concentrate never think about air or anything and they generally focus on study in each condition.

02/10/2017 10:35am

In any case, there are organizations that additionally offer some awesome bundles. For the situation that you have to take care of your issues, you require a decent credit. Along these lines, you can without much of a stretch pay for a buy at whatever time.

03/21/2017 9:13pm

Focus Max before they even begin in a totally customized approach. generalize provides you with custom designed care from the trying out all the way down to Focus Max the formulation of the treatment device.


03/23/2017 8:49pm

Endovex Male Enhancement concentrating the male depression affected person will display a distinctive set of signs and symptoms. Endovex Male Enhancement male despair signs and symptoms are generally behavioral. we can anticipate angry and competitive conduct.



Endovex Male Enhancement additionally there are not any chance factors immediately related with silicone implant and saline implants.in case your breast Endovex Male Enhancement is flabby shapeless or maybe flat and if it reasons you embarrassment and make you diffident.


03/26/2017 8:51pm

Andro Beast carbs should be used cautiously. the most effective time i would suggest loading up on Andro Beast carbs with the intention to gain muscular tissues is proper before and after a exercise.


03/27/2017 8:42pm

Andro Enhance are a prerequisite for excellent outcomes and infamous bodybuilding magazines maximum of whom generate the sizeable majority in their advertising Andro Enhance profits from bodybuilding supplement groups also convince.


03/28/2017 9:05pm

ACTUS so your consultant gets a complete picture of what you wish to perform.to put in force your plan you need an funding method that fits it slow frame ACTUS cash desires and hazard tolerance. along with your economic professional decide.


03/29/2017 8:52pm

Enhance Mind IQ a super example would be the classic four element model which consists of a medially divided brain with each component hand painted numbered and Enhance Mind IQ and separately identified in a manual which sufferers can read.


03/30/2017 8:48pm

Endovex the body to provide the wanted quantity of female hormones. with the right hormones produced the body adapts to its characteristic.Endovex in accordance to traditional Chinese language scientific practitioners' expertise of the human body.


03/31/2017 8:52pm

Force Factor VolcaNO however as a substitute will be capable of deliver a narrow trim and a toned appearance. muscle building women ought to also remember that Force Factor VolcaNO they don product sufficient testosterone.


04/02/2017 9:15pm

Ultimate Alpha Extreme estrogen and rejuvenate matters to the girl frame mainly on the breast hip facial skin body pores and skin locks and vaginal epithelium. Ultimate Alpha Extreme consequently exalt the arrival of the girl lesser $exual traits and additionally the skin splendor.



Ultimate Alpha Extreme but there are just a few pioneers inside the breast enhancement pill bazaar who've had staying power over the years and feature proven Ultimate Alpha Extreme themselves with a chase file of efficiently enlarging girls's breasts reshaping and redefining them.


04/04/2017 8:49pm

Andronite Enhanced it's also an choice for those who've a completely slow metabolic charge that cannot prevent formations of body fats even with the useful Andronite Enhanced resource of a food plan and regular exercising.


04/05/2017 9:06pm

Endovex sleep deprivation impacts thousands and thousands of human beings around the sector. long-time period loss of sleep can lead to very serious fitness issues. Endovex a have a look at performed by means of the college of California in San dingo confirmed.


04/06/2017 9:00pm

Ripped Max Muscle frame constructing isn't always something this is typically related to girls. whilst we watch the tv and see action movies we are much more likely Ripped Max Muscle to look figures together with Arnold Schwarzenegger replete with rippling muscle.


04/09/2017 9:01pm

Xtreme Exo-Test genuine to its call the stun gun is used to quickly stun or paralyze the attacker as a way to escape.it need to be reminded that such guns Xtreme Exo-Test are used handiest to defend oneself and not used to purposely hurt or cause undue damage.


04/10/2017 5:53am

This is what I have been searching in many websites and I finally found it here. Amazing article. I am so impressed. Could never think of such a thing is possible with it...I think you have a great knowledge especially while dealings with such subjects.

04/10/2017 8:39pm

Skin Novela these include ointments that can be rubbed at the affected vicinity or oral antibiotics or just any topical medicinal drug. dermatologist may additionally endorse Skin Novela a minor surgical procedure to put off the contents of pustules.


04/11/2017 8:44pm

Chantel St Claire maximum purchasers dont have that sort of time certainly we must wager and even entrust our selections on what the multitude of classified ads inform us.Chantel St Claire sadly commercials are meant to get you to shop for and it is not unusual.


04/12/2017 8:57pm

Ultra Boost Force in case you are seriously thinking about gaining muscle.as we age we generally tend to glamorize the reminiscences of our teens. we assume that everything Ultra Boost Force which include our bodies became better stronger and extra appealing then than it's miles now.


04/13/2017 9:04pm

Dermabellix whilst a few opt to go with a less vain alternative mull over the usage of antioxidants and supplements. those are available inside the market inside the shape Dermabellix of pill but its consequences may vary in step with costs.


04/14/2017 9:09pm

Vlamorous the give up is quite recognized shrinkage in pores and skin. shrinkage in pores and skin do what they have to do. shrinkage's symbolizes aging. Vlamorous women who do no longer adhere to pores and skin care ends up in exposing.


04/16/2017 9:07pm

Endovex however e mail marketing the usage of textual content messages can appear a lot greater private. they appearance extra like all the different electronic Endovex mail that someone commonly receives from their buddies and own family.


04/17/2017 8:48pm

Endovex listen it straight from the horses mouths how vigrx plus made them higher fans higher men.how important our physical appearance is widely recognized to all.Endovex in any case it performs a full-size function in making the first actual influence of ours.


04/18/2017 8:46pm

Avalure a lot of the goods are advanced along side input from dermatologists. due to the fact aeon has a big product line it best to examine the product descriptions cautiously. Avalure everyone with pores and skin problems.


04/19/2017 8:44pm

Garcinia Shaping Pro docs endorse dropping 2 lbs a week to remain healthful and save you you having lots of loose skin whilst weight-reduction plan or losing weight. Garcinia Shaping Pro bare that in thoughts whilst setting your dreams.


04/30/2017 5:06am

thanks for the given info

04/30/2017 7:11am

ites a great blog..

06/22/2017 3:37am

Great services and great post. keep posting


Leave a Reply