Vayeitzei: Hamas and Haran



What can we do to help our brethren in Israel? While our hearts and prayers go out to our brothers and sisters who are being terrorized by brazen daily missile attacks from our enemies, we can gain much direction from Jacob’s challenges in Haran in this week’s portion, which uncannily and presciently parallel our challenges today with Hamas.

In Arabic, Hamas seems to mean many things. Some translate it as “zeal” or “fire.” Could that possibly be related to the meaning of the wordhamas in Hebrew – “violence”? After all, what we call violence they call zeal; what we call murderers, they call “freedom fighters”…

And how far is Hamas from the word Haran – the biblical city whose name means “wrath” – the very city to which Jacob fled when he had to escape the murderous rage of his brother Esau …

The connection between Hamas and Haran – the story of zeal, fanaticism, fire, wrath – is the story in this week’s chapter of Jacob’s flight to Haran, and his travails in this city of wrath.

Jacob’s story is our story. Jacob’s journey is the journey of every soul entering a physical body in this wrathful and often violent material world. And Jacob’s mission is our mission.

As Hamas terrorizes the Jewish cities as far as Tel Aviv and Jerusalem, this sermon links the Torah portion with current events and relates what we all – each one of us – can do about it.


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