Parashat Vayeshev

God Was In That Text

It is important to seek God in times of fortune, and to hear the divine voice in our texts.

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Hearing God's Voice

Precisely where one would least expect to find God, we the readers not only find God but are privileged to hear the voice of God speaking to us from the Torah.

Two lessons (at least) are to be derived from our parashah this week. First is learning the value of communication with God, not only in times of need but also in times of fortune. Our patriarch Jacob, upon becoming settled, would have done well to express his gratitude to God. Second is the importance of being a deliberate reader of Torah. We have the ability, if we read sensitively and carefully enough, to literally hear the voice of God speaking to us through text. In numerous places of Torah, if we are attentive, we can hear God not only speaking to our ancestors but also to us. For God's presence is not only in the heavens; it is here, on earth--in our own midst.

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Rabbi Matthew Berkowitz

A Wexner Fellow ordained in 1999 by the Jewish Theological Seminary, Rabbi Matthew L. Berkowitz is the senior rabbinic fellow in JTS's KOLLOT: Voices of Learning program.