Vayetzei, the Metaverse, Manna, Bananas, and Wrestling

The Metaverse is a new coming technology. Facebook Inc will invest $50 million to partner with organizations to responsibly build the so-called metaverse. In this digital world, people can use different devices to move and communicate in a virtual environment. The money used to buy property in this metaverse world of the new Facebook is called mana, not manna. Mana is defined as a pervasive supernatural or magical power. Soon CEOs, Managers, News reporters, and ministers will float into your homes. No buildings will be needed for business, conferences, or events as the metaverse will handle almost all your needs from their locations. Mana is magical like Disney World, but mana and Manna are two different things. Manna means bread and to a Hebrew audience, according to Abarim Publications, the name Bethlehem would have meant “House of Bread and House Of War.”

Magical power and divination appear in this week’s Torah Portion, but so does the Bread of Life and being doubly fruitful.

Shortly after my last blog entry, we left our hotel and landed in a house across from the beach. Coconuts are hanging from trees, bananas ripening with fruit, and a fig tree in my yard. My mind can’t seem to soak it all in. The weather most days is sunshine and cool salty breezes. I feel like I am living a dream in this month of Kislev. Have you been dreaming? Jacob and Laban both dream this week in Vayetzei (And he went out).

My husband and I went to the beach the other evening and placed our chairs in the sand. The views and sounds from the ocean are breathtakingly wonderous. It reminds me of how magnificent the Creator of Life is. The details of every grain of sand adorned with shells and crabs walking sideways to greet me, eyeballs perched atop their heads. I walk down to the shore, and foamy waves spill over my feet and legs. Birds with peculiar beaks run speedily back and forth. One bird seems to follow me around, a tiny sandpiper. His legs resemble toothpicks, and the prints his feet leave in the sand make feather indentions. He scurries back and forth, his beak grabbing anything he can find to eat, and then suddenly, a chunk of a mollusk comes washing up, and he excitedly snags his treasure. What do snowbirds, mana, manna, and this week’s Torah portion have in common? A lot.

The snowbirds spend their days running back and forth, looking for food. When a person is hungry, they search for food. They run with snowbird legs back and forth rapidly to find food. They scurry for berries, mushrooms, and try to catch fish or an animal to cure their hunger pains. Starvation leads to dreaming about food.

Yeshua said, “Timeless truth I speak to you: It was not Moses who gave you bread from Heaven, but my Father gave you The True Bread from Heaven. “For The Bread of God is he who has descended from Heaven and gives life to the world” (John 6:32).

Yeshua said He was The Bread of Life and that whoever comes to Him will never hunger, and whoever trusts in Him will never thirst.” When was the last time you felt hunger pains? “The soul that is full loathes honey, but to a hungry soul, any bitter thing is sweet” (Proverbs 27:7).

The children of Israel did not run back and forth on the beach all day looking for food. Their shoes did not wear out. They had miraculous manna that rained down from the heavens. They were told to gather twice as much bread for each one on the sixth day but on the seventh day, the Sabbath, there would be no bread. In our story, in the 6th year, Jacob is getting ready to gather double. And the Father has given him a son named Joseph to conform it. Joseph means increaser, or doubly fruitful!

The sabbatical year began on Sept. 7, 2021. According to many, we are in the 7th year cycle of time, called Shmita. Just as the Torah calls for us to work six days and rest on the seventh, it commands the land rest in the seventh. After 49 years, seven cycles of seven, the 50th is the Jubilee, but the Jubilee has not been marked for centuries. The Torah portion this week is Vayetzei (And he went out). Jacob serves 14 years (two 7s) for his wives. He is ready to hit the road, settle in his own land, raise his children, and prosper, but something happens after Joseph’s birth and remember, later, Joseph will have to deal with 7’s– fruitful years and years of famine.

“Now, after Rachel had given birth to Joseph, Jacob said to Laban, “Send me on my way so I can return to my homeland. Give me my wives and children for whom I have served you, that I may go on my way. You know how hard I have worked for you.” But Laban replied, “If I have found favor in your eyes, please stay. I have learned by divination that the LORD has blessed me because of you.” And he added, “Name your wages, and I will pay them.” (Genesis 30:25-28).

Jacob was ready to return to Beer Sheba. He was ninety-one years old and still a servant to Laban, but Laban knows he has been blessed due to Jacob, so he says, “What can I give you to stay on? This is when we see Jacob taking the speckled, spotted, dark colored goats and lambs. Can you see the eyes of Laban twinkling with delight? Laban’s name means “white,” and Laban will get the white sheep. Jacob stayed on for an additional six years, but in the 7th year, he goes free.

Jacob now has learned to face men with Intestinal fortitude. He has learned not to run and flee or bring trickery, and soon Jacob will get a new name that matches his new identity. After fleeing in the night and being chased down by Laban, Jacob squares Laban in the eye and says,

“I have been with you for twenty years now. Your sheep and goats have not miscarried, nor have I eaten the rams of your flock. I did not bring you anything torn by wild beasts; I bore the loss myself. And you demanded payment from me for what was stolen by day or night. As it was, the heat consumed me by day and the frost by night, and sleep fled from my eyes. Thus for twenty years, I have served in your household—fourteen years for your two daughters and six years for your flocks—and you have changed my wages ten times! If the God of my father, the God of Abraham and the Fear of Isaac, had not been with me, surely by now you would have sent me away empty-handed. But God has seen my affliction and the toil of my hands, and last night He rendered judgment” (Genesis 31:38-42).

All 20 years of pent-up emotions, mistreatment, deceit, and lack of honor are now rolling off Jacob’s tongue. Slip-on Jacob’s shoes for a moment. His father-in-law makes him work for 7 years and then deceives him on his wedding night. Jacob ends up with two wives he worked 14 years for. The women rival, wrestle and demand love and children. He has worked his fingers to the bone and gained little. The man who caused Laban to prosper with blessings is now accused of thievery and curses. Laban’s sons declare, “Jacob has taken away all that belonged to our father and built all this wealth at our father’s expense.” And Jacob saw from the countenance of Laban that his attitude toward him had changed.”

Photo by Waldemar Brandt

All of these 20 years of turmoil will lead to wrestling. He is rolling in dust and dirt, weeping, crying out, and telling the Father about all his trickery, his pain, sorrow, burdens, and the loss of his family back home. Have you ever felt like Jacob? A black sheep. When I divorced my first husband I bought a CD, Jim Croce’s greatest hits, but there was one song on the album I needed to hear. “I got a Name.” I played that song over and over in my car and cried. For 14 years, I had traded my maiden name, but the Father was reminding me that I had a name, and He would give me a new name and a new identity.

It’s time for the hip to pop. Time to walk in humility and get a new name and identity. Jacob, it’s time look in the mirror, to face your father-in-law, brother, wife, and anyone else you need to face and start a new journey. I believe Jacob wrestles with Jacob. He, like me, has to ask himself a question: What is your true name? Rachel wrestles with Leah and names a son Naphtali. Laban wrestles with idols. What are you wrestling with?

Jeff Benner describes the meaning of the word Israel:

This name has been translated several different ways, including “he wrestles with God,” “Prince of God,” “he struggles with God,” and several others. The name “Israel” is actually a complete sentence in one word—Israel can literally be translated as “he turns the head of God.” The way I like to understand this is that when Israel (either Jacob or his descendants) speaks to God, God, the father of Israel, stops what he is doing and turns to his son and says, “What do you want my son.”

 

6 thoughts on “Vayetzei, the Metaverse, Manna, Bananas, and Wrestling

  1. I’ve never thought of Jacob wrestling Jacob, but isn’t our greatest obstacle to overcoming and new growth our very own self? Looking in the mirror daily and facing me.

  2. Oh my!!! forget the rest of this. You on a beach with your hubby and bananas and figs and insights galore. How thrilled I am for you even in the midst of the world swirling around you.May you truly find rest for your soul and strength for the fray. wow,

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