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Parshat Va-yetzi


More Biblical romance transpires this week but this time the ancient game of love is even more complicated. “Jacob loved Rachel...the daughter of his uncle Laban” and agrees “‘I will serve you seven years for your younger daughter Rachel.’” But Laban dupes Jacob into marrying his elder daughter Leah instead, she of the “weak eyes” (a Biblical diss implying she was not a looker). Jacob works another seven years so he can marry Rachel as well. The baby race is on as Leah flaunts her fertility in Rachel’s face, ultimately leading to Jacob’s impregnating both women along with Rachel’s maid Bilhah (at Rachel’s behest) and Leah’s maid Zilpah (Leah’s idea). Thus Jacob fathers 12 sons and one daughter, Dinah. Rather than represent this polygamous episode that is obviously troubling to a modern sensibility (even Rashi struggled with it!) I have chosen a visual representation of Jacob’s ladder, a mystical vision that presages the future of our people. As Jacob sleeps, dreaming of angels climbing up and down toward the heavens, the Lord tells him, “‘...The land on which you are lying I will assign to you and to your offspring. Your descendants shall spread as the dust of the earth; you shall spread out to the west and to the East and to the north and the south. All the families of the earth shall bless themselves by you and your descendants...I will protect you wherever you go and bring you back to this land.’” Shabbat Shalom!

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