Parashat Vayetzei opens with Jacob running for his life. Having just stolenEsau’s birthright and procured his father Isaac’s blessing, Jacob is fearful thatEsau is seeking revenge. Panting for breath, thirsty, hungry, exhausted, andabsolutely terrified, Jacob’s journey brings him to an area in the wilderness.In this trying moment of fear and solitude, Jacob is comforted by God’spresence. As Jacob rests his head on a rock and settles down to sleep withthe harsh gravel of the earth digging into his skin, he dreams of a ladderstretching from the ground to the heavens. Angels are going up and down onthis ladder and God is standing over him. God says to Jacob, “Behold I amwith you, and will keep you in all places where you go…I will not leaveyou…” (Genesis 28:15). In this trying moment, all alone in the wilderness,Jacob discovers that God is watching over him. Eleventh century rabbiniccommentator Rashi suggests that when God says, “I am with you,” Godrecognises that Jacob is afraid (Rashi on Genesis 28:15). God knows thatJacob requires a comforting presence in order to help him through this difficulttime.Jacob’s predicament resonates with many of us. We face moments in our livesin which we are unable to see where we are going. When we are afraid, andwe find ourselves lost in the darkness of the wilderness, it is often difficult forus to sense God’s presence. Although we try to find comfort from God, Godalso becomes the recipient of our anger. Although we cry out to God indistress, we also yell, scream, and curse. And even as we attempt to cleave toGod when we need God most, we also dismiss God, and blame God for ourloss and our suffering. Yet according to the Babylonian Talmud, suchbehaviour is both expected and acceptable. Tractate Baba Batra teaches us,“A man is not held responsible for what he says in the hour of hisdistress” (Baba Batra 16b). Venting is healthy because it enables us toexpress our grief and anxiety, along with all of our emotions, rather thancontaining them inside of us.When we find ourselves lost amidst the darkness of the wilderness, let usexpress what words we must, recognising that God is present and God mayserve as a receptacle for all the emotions we feel (however strongly we mayfeel them). For just as the sun sets, so too is the sun destined to rise again.As we awaken to a new day, filled with light and promise, may we be capableof looking at moments of our lives and recognise, like Jacob, “Surely God wasin this place, and perhaps I did not know it (Genesis 28:16).