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    The place – Vayyetzei

    Jacob lays down to sleep, by José de Ribera, 1639

    Jacob lays down to sleep, by José de Ribera, 1639

    When Jacob left Beer Sheva he had no idea where he would spend the night.

    Eventually “he happened upon hamakom, the place”, “he took some of the stones of hamakom, the place” and “he lay down (to sleep) bamakom, at the place” (Gen. 28:10-11).

    “Place” gets mentioned several times – not “a” but “the” place.” It was not any old place but a particular place, though we are not given details of who chose it and why. Realising that God had led him there, Jacob called the place Bet-El, “The House of God”.

    In rabbinic commentary HaMakom, “the place”, is The One Who is in Every Place, i.e. God.

    Nothing Jacob did was by accident. God guided him and accompanied him every step of the way, bringing him to a pre-ordained location. God who is everywhere had set His eye on this place. Hence Jacob said, “Surely God is in this place, and I didn’t know!” (Gen. 28:14).

    It is one of the paradoxes of theology that HaShem is both the universal God of the world with a writ that runs across the whole of Creation, and yet is also in every individual place where we let Him in.

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