Wednesday Dec 19, 2012
This week we read of the members of Jacob's family who went down to Egypt. There were 53 grandsons listed, but only a single granddaughter – Serach, the daughter of Asher. The commentators wonder, what was so exceptional about this girl that her name was recorded? The Midrash spills forth with stories portraying an image of a unique and endearing Biblical heroine. Serach stands as a trusted, beloved sage of the people. She...
Friday Dec 07, 2012
“Vayeshev, And Jacob sat in the land of his father’s sojournings…”
Ah, Jacob sat. Or as most translate, Jacob dwelt. But for the meditative among us, this opening line can be read as a lovely little hint to sitting in meditation. Jacob is finally winding down years of frenzied activity and is ready to taste some much-deserved introspection and tranquility.
Just contrast this parsha title with the last two:...
Thursday Nov 29, 2012
In last week's reading we witnessed the Biblical love-at-first-sight story of Jacob meeting Rachel. Heroically, Jacob rolls the massive stone from atop the well to water her flock. Romantically, he precedes to kiss her and then lifts up his voice in weeping.
Though this is love at first sight, its consummation is vastly delayed. Jacob has to work 7 years for his deceptive Uncle Lavan before he is able to finally marry...
Thursday Nov 22, 2012
I am struck by the fact that the Torah reading for this harrowing week of Gaza conflict contains none other than the archetypal tale of Jacob’s ladder. The narrative opens with a powerful verb that demands our attention. It reads, “Vayifga - Jacob arrived/encountered the place.”
This verb yifga carries with it a punch, quite literally. For much more than mere arrival or encounter, yifga...
Thursday Nov 15, 2012
In this week's parsha we read that Isaac prayed for his barren wife Rebecca. It is notable that the term used here is “lanochach eshto”, which can be read literally as he prayed “standing before”, or “opposite” his wife. Midrash Rabbah picks up on this curious phrase and paints a picture of Isaac and Rebecca standing together, facing each other in shared prayer. It's a poignant image of a couple working...