Veyetzei: G-d is in the House!

If only we have the right outlook and attitude.

Rabbi S. Weiss,

Judaism לבן ריק
לבן ריק
Arutz 7

He had a dream! I'm talking about Yakov, of course. He has this amazing encounter with G-d at the site of Mt. Moriah and, in his dream, he establishes an eternal covenant with HaShem. He then awakens, jumps up and says, "Surely G-d is in this place and I did not know!"

What, exactly, did Yakov not know?

Rashi comments on this and says, "I never would have slept here, had I known this was a holy place." Rashi quotes Yakov as saying that he would not have gone to sleep in that place - the future site of the Beit HaMikdash - but would have continued on to a less holy site in order to rest his head.

However, Rabbi Moshe Feinstein adds a twist to Rashi's words. Says Rabbi Moshe: HaShem davka wanted Yakov to sleep in that sacred spot. For what Yakov "did not know" - and what HaShem wanted very much to teach him - was that every activity we perform in life, be it eating, dressing or even sleeping, can be a holy, rather than a mundane, act. If only we have the right outlook and attitude.

When we eat, for example, we glorify G-d by reciting a blessing that acknowledges Him as the Provider of sustenance. We show respect for others by talking - and especially by listening! - in a
The Torah begins, interestingly enough, not with the letter alef, but with a beit.
dignified manner as we sit around our table; even by saying "please" and "thank you" as the food is passed. And when we dress, we carefully and consciously choose clothes that will reflect the dignity of a tzelem Elokim; clothes that are at once attractive and clean, yet modest. And when we lay down to sleep, we ask ourselves if we have used our day wisely; we beg forgiveness for any wrongs we may have committed during the day, and we request HaShem to guard us during the night as we "recharge" our batteries through the gift of sleep, so that we can serve Him again, at full strength, tomorrow.

Yakov wakes from his sleep and immediately builds a makeshift altar. He offers oil upon it and consecrates that spot as the "House of G-d." It is not by accident that he refers to the Beit HaMikdash as a "house." For now he understands what he did not know before: that one's home is the essential "laboratory of learning" where he may perceive and practice myriad mitzvot on a daily basis. In fact, even the inanimate house itself can become a holy thing, if it hosts guests under its roof; if its walls house books of Torah; and if its "airspace" contains the sounds of learning, prayer and love.

The Torah begins, interestingly enough, not with the letter alef, but with a beit - the very letter which means "house." HaShem is telling us that living a Torah life begins with the way we conduct ourselves each and every day inside our own bayit.