Kenneth Cohen

Preparing for Life’s Challenges

This week, the Parsha is focused on Yakov Avinu, and the challenges that he must learn to overcome. He needed to be equipped with the necessary preparation, to succeed in his mission of building the nation of Israel.

He began his journey with a slight detour. He decided to spend fourteen years in the Yeshiva of Shem and Eiver, studying Torah, in order to strengthen himself. Yakov was diligent, and studied day and night.

On his way from Beer Sheva, he spent the night on Mount Moriah, where he had the dream of the ladder, with angels ascending and descending. It was a great spiritual revelation, and Yakov was comforted with the knowledge, that his children would one day return to this holy land.

He also learned by way of prophecy, the significance of the Beit Hamikdash, that would one day be built, on that very spot. He was able to foresee the special bond of the Jewish people with their G-d, as they visited his home, three times a year.

Yakov prayed that he not be damaged by all of the negative influences of Chutz L’Aretz, and the corrupt individuals living there. He asked for Hashem’s support and guidance.

We can see why Yakov was successful in finding a wife, building a family, and overcoming the trickery and deceit of his father in-law, Lavan. His unshakable trust in G-d, carried him through.

We must do our utmost to equip our children with all of the tools necessary to overcome all of the obstacles before them. There are so many temptations that are out there, capable of luring them away from their Jewish roots. We must guide them and pray for Divine assistance, that they continue in the holy path of their ancestors. With His help, they will succeed.

About the Author
Rabbi Cohen has been a Torah instructor at Machon Meir, Jerusalem, for over twenty years while also teaching a Talmud class in the Shtieblach of Old Katamon. Before coming to Israel, he was the founding rabbi of Young Israel of Century City, Los Angeles. He recently published a series of Hebrew language-learning apps, which are available at