Vayeitzei: First Jewish Weightlifter: The Power of Love and Tears



What is it with Jews and weightlifting? The two don’t seem to come together. Jews are great at many things. They are a brilliant people. They have survived despite all odds. But when it comes to heavy lifting, well…

Yet, in this week’s Torah portion we find that our great grandfather Jacob, thousands of years ago, demonstrated an incredible feat, lifting a weight that no one else was able to lift!

Why are we told this story? Who of us has not had to contend with the many heavy stones life presents us – the obstacles to find truth and integrity … the hearts of stone and cynicism that many people develop … the heavy burdens in our struggle for survival … the hardships and setbacks that wear us down and don’t allow us to access the wellspring within. But, nevertheless, we are charged with removing those stones and freeing the wellsprings of every soul that enters our sphere.

This sermon unpacks the personal message within this week’s Torah reading, which recounts Jacob’s journey from the holiness of Beersheva to the wrath of Charan, where with superhuman strength he pushes a giant stone from atop a well, and upon meeting Rachel – his future wife and the love of his life – he kisses her and weeps.

Jacob’s journey is our journey. In the task of lifting the stones in our lives, we have at our disposal many tools – not the least of which is the power of tears and love.

As many of you know, I just returned from an exhilarating weekend with my fellow colleagues/shluchim at the annual Shluchim Conference in New York. Words elude me to describe the sheer power of celebrating together with over 5500 of our friends at the Kinus and banquet. We kissed and we wept together – and at that moment we all felt that nothing is impossible. I return here this week totally reenergized, empowered and transformed, and am committed – together with all of you – to carry this energy and strength into all that we do, ready to take on new initiatives and overcome any challenges, knowing that with love and empathy we can lift the heaviest stones.

Never underestimate what love and a few empathetic tears can accomplish…





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