Doing the Impossible

Doing the Impossible

Dec 2, 2006 By David Hoffman | Commentary | Vayetzei

This parashah challenges us to do the impossible. Let me explain.

Read More
Transforming Jealousy

Transforming Jealousy

Nov 10, 2010 By Abigail Treu | Commentary | Text Study | Vayetzei

Be it parenthood or a good job or the latest [fill-in-the-blank-of-your-heart’s desire], it is difficult, in our material culture, not to want what others have. We know we shouldn’t covet—that’s one of the Ten Commandments, after all—but we can’t control the way we feel.

Read More
Honoring Teachers

Honoring Teachers

Nov 26, 2011 By David Levy | Commentary | Text Study | Vayetzei

Picking up on the surprising mention of Abraham as Jacob’s father, we learn an important lesson about the roles different people can play in our lives. Each of us who has been taught by someone is obliged to honor him/her as we would our parents. And the extension of this teaching is that each of us has the potential to play this important role in someone else’s life.

Read More
Why Are We Called the People of Israel?

Why Are We Called the People of Israel?

Nov 17, 2007 By Edward Feld | Commentary | Vayetzei

We are called not the People Abraham, nor the People Isaac, rather we are called the People Israel, named for the third of the patriarchal family, Jacob.

Read More
Why Religion?

Why Religion?

Nov 12, 2010 By David Hoffman | Commentary | Vayetzei

Big picture: What is religion trying to do in the world?

Read More
A Place of Opposites

A Place of Opposites

Dec 10, 2005 By Matthew Berkowitz | Commentary | Vayetzei

Places are often endowed with meaning. The sites of battles, speeches, or other historical events come to mind. And often these very same places are marred by painful memories. This notion of place and meaning plays a very significant role at the beginning of this week’s Torah reading, Parashat Va-yetzei . Fleeing the murderous intentions of his brother Esau, Jacob journeys back to the ‘old country’ at the prodding of his parents. The parashah opens, “Jacob left Beersheva and journeyed toward Haran” (Genesis 28:10). En route, Jacob happens upon a curious place: “Jacob happened upon the place, and tarried there all night, because the sun was setting…” (Genesis 28:11). What is this place and why are the events in that place so significant?

Read More
Cry Along with Me

Cry Along with Me

Dec 6, 2003 By Melissa Crespy | Commentary | Vayetzei

A parashah of deep passion, Va-Yetze often tears me apart while reading it. In it, Jacob falls in love, is deceived by his uncle/ father-in-law, marries two sisters, takes two concubines, and becomes father to eleven sons and one daughter! Though destined to become our third Patriarch, Jacob in these 20 years of his life lives with pain and deception, and causes deep pain, at the very least, to his two wives—Rachel and Leah. 

Read More
Mother Rachel

Mother Rachel

Nov 16, 2002 By Lewis Warshauer | Commentary | Vayetzei

Family stories are never objective. They are told with a point in mind. When stories are about someone who has died, the storyteller has free rein; the person is no longer around to object. Often this results in beatification. A late relative is made out to be so saintly that the person would hardly recognize him or herself. On the other hand, stories can demonize someone beyond the bounds of fairness or credibility.

Read More
How to Read a Text

How to Read a Text

Nov 28, 2009 By Walter Herzberg | Commentary | Vayetzei

Michael Fishbane’s book Sacred Attunement: A Jewish Theology is a scholarly work that I find compelling, especially in those instances where the author places emphasis on experiencing the act of biblical interpretation, which “is understood to foster diverse modes of attention to textual details, which in turn cultivate correlative forms of attention to the world, and divine reality.” In other words, paying close attention to the details in the Torah is the path to deriving meaning from the Torah.

Read More
Being in the Land

Being in the Land

Nov 6, 2013 By Matthew Berkowitz | Commentary | Vayetzei

Parashat Vayetzei opens with Jacob’s flight from the Land of Israel.

Read More