Vayeitzei - Where Eternity Kisses Earth

by Rebbetzin Malkah

There is an aggadah (legend) in the Midrash that the Roman Emperor Hadrian asked how man would be revived in the World to Come;  Rabbi Joshua Ben Hananiah replied that it would be "From Luz, in the back-bone." "Prove this to me," said Hadrian. Then the Rabbi took Luz, a small bone of the spine, and immersed it in water, but it was not softened; he put it into the fire, but it was not consumed; he put it into a mill, but it could not be pounded; he placed it upon an anvil and struck it with a hammer, but the anvil split and the hammer was broken. (Ecclesiastes Rabbah xii / Genesis Rabbahxviii).

"Yaacov arose early in the morning and took the stone that he place around his head and set it up as a  pillar; and he poured oil on its top.  And he named that place Beth-el; however Luz was the city's name originally."  Bereishis 28:18-19

Luz (לוז) is the name of a small, indestructible bone in the human body, at the top of the spinal column (the seventh cervical vertebra) .  According to Jewish tradition, this is the bone from which the body itself will be resurrected at the coming of the Mashiach.  The belief is that this bone does not decay - come fire, come water, it remains.  In the Talmud, Luz is also a city; it is identified as a place where its inhabitants always told the truth, its people never died, and where teikhelet is dyed (Babylonian Talmud, Sotah 46b, Bereishis Rabba 69:8); elsewhere, the Talmud tells of two men who are captured by Roman soldiers because "they had in their hands items made in Luz" (Babylonian Talmud, Shabbat 26a).   As we see from the parasha, there is something divine and uniquely special about where Yaakov lays his head:  it is the city of Luz and the place, Hamakom, where Avraham and Yitzchak experienced Hashem .  This special point on earth, where the patriarchs and all who will come to this place experience the realm where Hashem Himself reigns and the promise of eternal life lies hidden, is the place where Eternity kisses Earth.

Who Makes Salvation Sprout

The Sages equate sleeping to experiencing 1/60th of death.  We all taste a hint of death when we sleep every day.  When Yaacov awakes after dreaming of a ladder into the heavens, the first thing he says is "Surely Hashem is present in this place and I did not know!" (Bereishis [Genesis] 28:16).  The son of generations of testing does not even know that he has happened upon a familiar place: the very site of the binding of Isaac, the akeidah , which the Sages suggest is also the site where the holy temple will be built. Even in our own lives, we will also stumble upon places of notable importance and only realize their significance after we stir from our spiritual slumber.   Yaacov, however, redeems himself and recognizes the holiness of the space.  His awe and gratitude cause him to sanctify the spot by pouring oil upon the stone where his head rested- an action which will forever perpetuate the relevance of Jerusalem for the Jewish people.

The Midrash  says that the twelve stones on which Yaacov slept came together as one;  the Hebrew uses the singular for stone, even, as it describes the stone he anoints. This single stone serves as a model of the Jewish people that will arise through Yaacov himself.  Like a luz bone, this indestructible entity will remain until the Mashiach comes  - despite hardship, exile and near destruction.   This stone, which Yaacov anoints with oil,  is also a beautiful visual of  none other than our Mashiach who is "the anointed one."  The place of Luz, the resurrection point and the place of salvation, operates as a space in time where the Anointed One, our Mashiach Yeshua, will raise those from the dead by causing the very seed of resurrection - the luz bone - to be activated.

"Hadrian once asked Rabbi Yehoshua ben Chananya: ‘From what will G-d resurrect man in the future world?' R. Yehoshua replied, From the luz in the spine.' Once G-d has softened this bone with the Dew of Resurrection, it will become as yeast is to dough, and from it the body will be built. The same body that decomposed will be reconstructed. This is implied by the verse, ‘Your dead people shall live' (and not shall be created')." (Koheles Rabba 12:5)

When Yaacov renames Luz as the House of G-d, it is fitting.  This is the chosen place from where techeilet emanates  (the blue which is used on the tzitzit to remind us of Heaven and G-d's throne) is not only a place of eternal life and a heavenly beacon, but the future site of the Beit HaMikdash where Hashem shall make His formal dwelling place known throughout the Earth.

Rebirth

The Midrash speaks of the "Dew of Resurrection." Just as a drop of dew has restorative powers, in our own lives the smallest events and meetings can cause life changes beyond our comprehension.  A single act of kindness, a word, a touch - all of these can affect the world in a powerful way.  Sometimes we are blind, callous, or unaware.   To approach our lives daily means to have a sense of humility that we are constantly coming upon a place or a moment of holiness.  With caution and awe we should approach our daily moments and our personal encounters with others as it says of Yaacov's encounter, "And he [Yaacov] became frightened and said, ‘How awesome is this place!'" Bereishis 28:17

I tell you the truth, unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds. (John 12:24 NIV)

Gathering with friends and family this week can be both a joyous time and sometimes a stressful time.  But if we gather with the intent of harnessing within ourselves the desire to impart a drop of our internal dew - the spirit of Mashiach - then we might see a rebirth in relationships and a weaving together of special moments.   As we gather ourselves in moments of quiet contemplation, family chaos, and a time of rest,  may we find time to express gratitude for the seed of life within each of us.  Take time to be thankful that through our Mashiach we have an abundance of life and new possibilities- here, now and in the future.  As we take the time to enliven our relationships and encounter new conversations and situations, may we recognize that indeed, Hashem is in our very space and we do know it.

Allow Mashiach's dew to soften that seed within you and bring new life in this world . . .

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