Vayeitzei (he left): Genesis 28:10-32:3

Vayeitzei is the name of this week’s parsha and it means: he left. The parsha this week begins and ends with Jacob offering a sacrifice to the Lord. Last week Jacob ended up in some hot water with his brother Esau for tricking their father Isaac into giving Jacob the blessings for the firstborn. And now, this week finds Jacob on the run and setting up a new life away from his family and the anger of his brother Esau. When Jacob settles down for the night, God comes to him and reconfirms his promises to Jacob and his hand on Jacob’s life.

Genesis 28:11- 17 When he reached a certain place, he stopped for the night because the sun had set. Taking one of the stones there, he put it under his head and lay down to sleep. He had a dream in which he saw a stairway resting on the earth, with its top reaching to heaven, and the angels of God were ascending and descending on it. There above it stood the Lord, and he said: “I am the Lord, the God of your father Abraham and the God of Isaac. I will give you and your descendants the land on which you are lying. Your descendants will be like the dust of the earth, and you will spread out to the west and to the east, to the north and to the south. All peoples on earth will be blessed through you and your offspring. I am with you and will watch over you wherever you go, and I will bring you back to this land. I will not leave you until I have done what I have promised you.” When Jacob awoke from his sleep, he thought, “Surely the Lord is in this place, and I was not aware of it.” He was afraid and said, “How awesome is this place! This is none other than the house of God; this is the gate of heaven.”

Jacob is in a bad place when the parsha begins, but God is with him. God appears to Jacob in a dream and repeats his faithfulness to him. God promises Jacob land and descendants and a future. He promises to watch over Jacob and bring him home. Jacob’s response is to mark the occasion of God being with him when he wasn’t expecting it and to worship the Lord.

The rest of the parsha deals with Jacob finding a wife…and then another one. Jacob has struggles with his wives and his father-in-law Laban, but still God is with him. Jacob’s wife Leah gives him children and then Jacob’s wife Rachel gives him a child as well. They all live on Laban’s land and deal with Laban’s trickery until Jacob can take it no more. In Genesis 31:3 God tells Jacob to gather up with family and their belongings and to go back to the land of promise. God tells Jacob that he will be with him. God will be with Jacob because God has always been with Jacob. When Jacob was on the run from Esau, God was with him. When Jacob recognized God and brought a sacrifice, God was with him. When Jacob was making foolish decisions about his spousal selection, God was with him. When Jacob was wrongly showing favoritism, God was with him. When Jacob’s wives are fighting, God is with him. When they all flee from Laban, God is with them.

God isn’t with Jacob because Jacob is so great. God isn’t faithful to Jacob because Jacob is so good at remembering God or looking to him for guidance. God is with Jacob because God is faithful. God is with Jacob because God keeps his promises. God is with Jacob because God promised Abraham to bless all the nations of the earth through Abraham’s family line. God is with Jacob, because it is through Jacob’s family that the Messiah (Y’shua) will come and bless the whole world so that we can be saved and reconciled to God. Jacob isn’t great at being reconciled to anyone in this parsha, but God is going to use Jacob’s family to reconcile the whole world to himself. At the beginning of the parsha, Jacob recognizes the the Lord is in the place where he is and he hadn’t recognized it. This week, let’s be looking at how God is at work in our lives and be looking at him to be keeping his promises and reconciling people to each other and people to himself.

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Gilgal Gazette Monday

Theme Dinners

Netanya W., age 10

Tribe of Reuben

For one of the theme dinners we had Fashion Disaster Night. It was so much fun!! Fashion Disaster is when you put on any clothing like a shirt on your arm or different shoes on your feet, and so much more!! There are also more theme dinners like animal night. I don’t want to go ahead and say anything to ruin the surprise; you can find out if you go to Camp Gilgal!

Hebrew

Rachel H., age 10

Tribe of Levi

When you hear the words, “Hebrew Class,” what do you think of? If you answered, “learning Hebrew,” you’re not alone. But the Hebrew class at Camp Gilgal is a little different. For instance to learn the colors, we used Skittles and we had to say, “I have x amount of x-colored Skittles!” in HEBREW! Even though it was a little hard, the “game” was really fun!! We learned the “Days of the Week” song in Hebrew, and we asked for Cheese (gevina) or Peanut Butter (asur) crackers to improve our Hebrew sentences. Out of all of the wondrous activities at Camp Gilgal, I would say that Hebrew class is one of my favorites.

Parshot: Toldot

When I was growing up, there was an older gentleman, Mr. Nate, who attended my congregation. He would greet people when they came in, and help them feel at home. Whenever you asked him how he was doing, he would always reply, with his arms spread out, “Great! I made another day! ” Not a hint of sarcasm. If you knew some of Mr. Nate’s backstory, you would understand why it was so amazing. He had been a Jewish-American POW in Germany in World War II, lost his son in Vietnam, and had numerous other tragedies happen. And then he found Y’shua, and that totally changed things. He knew that it was God who had given him the blessings that were in his life and God had granted him one more day to live.

The Parsha this week is Toldot and means generations. It’s found in Genesis 25:19-28:9. The haftorah is found in Malachi 1-2:9.

It starts out with Isaac praying to God for Rebekah to have children. She becomes pregnant and God tells her she is having twins. There are two nations within her, one will be greater than the other and the older will serve the younger.

They named the older twin Esau and the younger Jacob. Even from the start, they were at odds. As they grew up, Esau was more outdoorsy and Jacob was more indoorsy. Isaac loved Esau and Rebekah loved Jacob. One day, Jacob was cooking and Esau comes in and is starving. Esau demands some of the stew. Jacob says, sure, but give me your birthright.

What’s a birthright? You may ask. A birthright was the first-borns right, simply because he was first-born, so you could say it was given by God. It meant that the firstborn would get a double portion of the inheritance, be the leader of the family, and all around it was a very important thing.
Esau agrees to give Jacob his birthright.

God gave Esau the birthright, but he took it for granted. He decided to sell the blessing that God had given him for a temporary meal.

What has God given you that you’re taking for granted? God has blessed all of us with so much, but it’s easy to get caught up in the everyday, mundane, nonsense. Whenever I start taking things for granted, I think about Mr. Nate and his joy for life.

Take a minute to write down or think of all the things you are thankful for. It might be hard at first, but start with easy stuff. Are you breathing? It’s a good day. Are you in a house or a shelter? God’s awesome. Did you eat today? God’s good. God has granted you a day to be alive, and that is wonderful.

-Strings

Gilgal Gazette Monday

Horseback with Taco and Strider

Trent F., age 13

Tribe of Benjamin

When I was told to go to the mini van I was confused, because I didn’t know where we were going and I was running late. We were going horseback riding! Arriving at the ranch, I got excited yet frightened, but it was fun. The horse was so nice! I rode Aspen. We went on a trail ride and Taco and Strider were the staff that came with us. At the end of the ride we saw a spectacular view. This is one of my favorite activities and I know you will enjoy it when you come to camp.

Horses

Gavin R., age 11

Tribe of Benjamin

Using horses is an old way, but more fun way to get around. Yom sussim is Hebrew for horse riding day. It happened on Shabbat. We can ride them fast or slow. Horses are my 2nd favorite animal. Yom sussim is my favorite day of Camp Gilgal because I love horses. The horse I rode was named Arie, and she was female. We went riding them around Camp Pinical. Older kids ride on a trail in the forest, but younger kids are in a corral. Horse day was a lot of fun and a great experience.

Parsha Post: Chayei Sara

This week’s parsha is found in Genesis 23:1-25:18. Chayei Sara means the life of Sara. What comes after that is …ends. This week’s parsha begins by telling us that after living for 127 years, Sara dies. She dies and Abraham buys a piece of land so that he can bury her. For all of the promises made to Abraham about land that will belong to his family (see parshot Lech-Lecha and Vayera for some more on that) this is the first time that Abraham is in real, actual possession of land. The Hittites offer to just give Abraham the land, but that isn’t much different from the way that he has lived his life as a guest waiting for fulfillment of the promises of God.

This parsha is all about the transition of the story in Genesis going from Abraham to Isaac. After Sara dies Abraham takes great pains to have a wife found for Isaac from among their own people and not from among the nations. So Abraham’s servant goes to Abraham’s family and brings back a woman who was very literally the answer to his prayers. Chapter 24 closes with the announcement that Isaac marries Rebekah and was comforted after the death of his mother.

Chapter 25 tells us that Abraham marries again and has more children. He is able to provide gifts for all of his children and to leave an inheritance to his son Isaac. At the end of 175 years Abraham breaths his last and is buried by his sons Isaac and Ishmael in the cave where Sara is buried. We then have a genealogy of Ishmael’s descendants. This is fulfillment of God’s promise to Abraham in Genesis 17:18-20 to bless Ishmael and make a great nation of him. The parsha ends before Isaac and Rebekah have any children.

The life of Abraham is an amazing thing to me. I keep coming back to what the author of Hebrews says about Abraham in Hebrews 11:8-13:

By faith Abraham, when he was called, obeyed by going out to a place which he was to receive for an inheritance; and he went out, not knowing where he was going. By faith he lived as an alien in the land of promise, as in a foreign land, dwelling in tents with Isaac and Jacob, fellow heirs of the same promise;  for he was looking for the city which has foundations, whose architect and builder is God.  By faith even Sarah herself received ability to conceive, even beyond the proper time of life, since she considered Him faithful who had promised.  Therefore there was born even of one man, and him as good as dead at that, as many descendants as the stars of heaven in number, and innumerable as the sand which is by the seashore.

All these died in faith, without receiving the promises, but having seen them and having welcomed them from a distance, and having confessed that they were strangers and exiles on the earth.

Abraham lived his whole life expecting God to be faithful. He dies believing that God won’t fail and that his word is true, but there are so many parts of what God has promised him that he doesn’t get to see with his own eyes. Genesis 15:6 says that Abram believed that LORD and he credited it to him as righteousness. This is the mark of Abraham’s life. He dies waiting for Isaac to have children. He dies waiting to see a land that belonged to his family. He dies long before he sees what it means that God is going to bless the whole world through his family. He didn’t know what it was going to look like for God to fulfill his word, but Abraham believed that he would. Let’s take this week’s parsha as an encouragement to us to continue trusting God because he is faithful and a challenge to us to trust God even when we don’t see what will be.

Shabbat Shalom Camp Gilgal,

RedSox