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Parashat Vayetzei - 5775

My friends,

This portion is all about Jacob. To escape the wrath of his brother Esau because of the birthright issue, Jacob leaves Beer Sheba and heads to Haran. The portion opens with that beautiful dream known as Jacob's Ladder. He lies down outdoors and fall asleep. He dreams of "a ladder set on the ground, and its top reaches all to way to the sky. Angels of G-d were going up and down on it. G-d was standing over him and promises him that his descendants will inherit the land upon which he was lying."

Many interpretations have been given to this dream. I will share just one with you. It's OK to have big lofty dreams, as long as your feet are set firmly on the ground.

Thanksgiving. What a wonderful holiday. Thank you to our pilgrims for this biblical holiday in this new land. In the Torah it is known as Sukkot when we give thanks to G-d for the bountiful harvest.

In this week's portion we find the word "thank you" for the first time in the Bible. We are told that when Leah had her fourth child, she said "Hapa-am Odeh et Adonay" - "This time, I will thank G-d," and she named him Yehudah (Judah).

Adam and Eve, Noah and his children never said thank you to G-d. Abraham, Sarah, Isaac and their contemporaries never used the word Todah, thank you. Leah, our Matriarch, was the first person in the Bible to express gratitude by saying "thank you G-d" and she named her fourth son Yehudah, Judah.

We the Jews - Yehudim - have in our name the verb 'to thank'. What a coincidence that this Thanksgiving weekend we read about the first time that the word thank you was used.

Thanksgiving is a most important day, when we stop and thank G-d for our life, our harvest, our family and all those things that contribute to a meaningful life.

We have much to be thankful for.

Happy Thanksgiving and Shabbat Shalom.

Avram