Learning From Our Ancestor’s Struggles

Learning From Our Ancestor’s Struggles

Nov 22, 2002 By Melissa Crespy | Commentary | Vayetzei

I cannot read Parashat Va-Yetze dispassionately. The struggle between two sisters for the love of the same man, the back and forth attempt to win his affections by bearing more and more children, and the visible jealousy and pain that each one of them experiences, leaves me feeling angry every time I read the story. Particularly galling is Jacob’s reaction to Rachel—the wife whom he loves deeply—when she cannot become pregnant. She has seen her sister Leah bear Jacob three sons (presumably within three years), and can no longer take the pain of being the barren wife. “Give me children, or I shall die” she says to Jacob (Genesis 30:1). And the Torah records his response: “Jacob was incensed at Rachel, and said, “Can I take the place of God (‘hatahat elohim anokhi‘), who has denied you fruit of the womb?”

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The Evolution of Judaism’s Moral Conscience

The Evolution of Judaism’s Moral Conscience

Nov 20, 2004 By Ismar Schorsch | Commentary | Vayetzei

Why does Jacob abandon the security of his parents home in Beer-sheba?

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Rachel the Victim, Rachel the Hero

Rachel the Victim, Rachel the Hero

Dec 6, 2003 By Ismar Schorsch | Commentary | Vayetzei

In this week’s parashah Jacob gets his just desserts. He meets his master in the art of deception. As Jacob had denied his brother Esau the blessing to which his birthright entitled him, so, too, he is now denied the hand of Rachel, the younger daughter of Laban his uncle, with whom he is madly in love and for whom he has worked seven hard years. The counterpoint is exquisite. By substituting Leah for Rachel on Rachel’s wedding night, Laban exacts divine retribution at a moment of peak anticipation in a way that is no less intense than what Jacob did to Esau Along the way, Laban demonstratively reaffirms the sanctity of primogeniture.

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Our Hidden Needs

Our Hidden Needs

Dec 9, 2005 By JTS Alumni | Commentary | Vayetzei

By Rabbi Aaron Brusso

As human beings we are often hidden from each other. Our innermost thoughts, feelings, and motivations are known only to ourselves and to those we choose to let in. A groom places the veil over the bride’s face during the bedeken ceremony and the couple thereby communally declares that they will know each other behind the veils in ways impenetrable to others. What is shared in love with one is hidden from another because of this love.

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Learning From a Dream

Learning From a Dream

Dec 5, 2008 By Burton L. Visotzky | Commentary | Vayetzei

This week’s Torah reading, Parashat Va-yetzei, begins with Jacob’s famous dream, in which he sees a ladder stretching all the way up to the very heavens. The dream ends with God’s promise to him that “the ground that you are lying upon I will give to you and your offspring. Your seed shall be as numerous as the dust of the earth, you shall spread out to the west, east, to the north and south . . . “

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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.

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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.

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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.

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