Parashat Vayeitzei (And He went out) Genesis 28:10-32:3
Haftarah: Hosea 11:7-14:10
In this week’s reading from the prophets, G-d manifests His abundant mercy to His people. Despite all the faithful acts of HaShem in the past, Israel is unsure about returning to Him (see Hosea 11:7). Due to this lack of response, the people deserve to be turned over for destruction, but G-d’s rich compassion will not let Him do so. This is not an example that teaches that one can do whatever he wants and G-d will forgive him, rather the extent of His mercy should cause one to humble himself and repent. The point that is being made is that at times it is not the wrath or judgment of G-d that causes people to turn away from sin and seek HaShem, but rather His unconditional love. In this week’s haftarah one learns that it is not just against Ephraim that HaShem is angry, but also against Judah.
In this section G-d lists a couple of things that are a grievance to Him concerning Jacob. First that Jacob held his brother’s heel while in the womb, second that he wrestled (struggled) with G-d, i.e., the angel, and prevailed over him (see Hosea 12:3-5). The word in Hebrew for wrestle or struggle is the same verb from which the word “Israel” comes. These things that are listed are usually thought of as positive things, so why would HaShem have a grievance with Jacob concerning them? Both of these acts rested not in faith, but in physical power. Yes, Jacob wanted the proper things, the birthright and to be blessed; but he strove for them through fleshly means rather than exercising faith. These are perfect examples that the ends do not justify the means.
In other words, you can be on the right path and pursuing the right objectives, but if you do not exercise faith and trust in G-d, but rather rely on your own abilities, even if you were to achieve the objectives, HaShem would not be pleased. It is not a coincidence that in the next two verses one reads, “And the L-rd, G-d of the Armies, the L-rd is his remembrance. And with your G-d you shall repent; observe kindness and justice and hope in your G-d always.” Hosea 12:6-7 These two verses remind us that G-d’s power and abilities are without limitations (And the L-rd, G-d of the Armies). We also learn that the only way to please Him is to always behave in a way remembering Who He is and what He has said to us (the L-rd is his remembrance). Finally, it is only with His help can we repent (And with your G-d you shall repent) and behave with kindness and execute justice to others (observe kindness and justice). For this is what placing your hope in HaShem is about (and hope in your G-d always).
Hosea, more than any other of the prophets, speaks concerning G-d’s abundant mercy and unconditional love. Perhaps this is the reason that Matthew chooses a verse from Hosea to speak about why Yeshua returned from Egypt, “…from Egypt I called my Son.” Mt. 2:15
The use of this verse reveals that HaShem called Yeshua back to the land of Israel and to His people in order that through Yeshua the abundant mercy and unconditional love of G-d might be offered to first Israel and then the world.
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