Shabbat VaYetze: Whence Antisemitism?

מַאי ״הַר סִינַי״? הַר שֶׁיָּרְדָה שִׂנְאָה לְאֻמּוֹת הָעוֹלָם עָלָיו What is “Sinai”? To indicate that from there, hatred – sin’ah – descended.– Talmud Bavli, Shabbat 89a We have been following the story of Ya’akov / Jacob now for long enough to recognize that he is no saint. Indeed, one of the most intriguing aspects of the Torah is that itContinue reading “Shabbat VaYetze: Whence Antisemitism?”

Shabbat VaYetze: Can You See It?

Our ancestor Ya’akov, or Jacob as he is called in English, is the most fully developed, most flawed, most human character of all the Matriarchs and Patriarchs of Jewish tradition. Named, basically, for the word “heel” in Hebrew because he was born holding his twin brother Esau’s heel, he acts the part throughout his youth. JustContinue reading “Shabbat VaYetze: Can You See It?”

Shabbat VaYetze: Give Me Children Or I Will Die

This week’s parashah finds Jacob leaving home, going to a new community and creating family there. The resonance is obvious here for so many of us, for whom it is natural to expect to create our families and our future in a place different from the one in which we grew up. For Jacob, aContinue reading “Shabbat VaYetze: Give Me Children Or I Will Die”

Shabbat VaYetze: Trans Torah on Trans Day of Remembrance

On Shabbat VaYetze we read of Jacob’s leaving his family under threat of death from his brother. His escape is hurried and frightened, and his path traces an ironic reversal of Abraham’s, as Jacob has to leave his family home, the homeland promised to his grandfather’s and father’s descendants, and his people just to survive.Continue reading “Shabbat VaYetze: Trans Torah on Trans Day of Remembrance”

Shabbat VaYetze: Rediscovering the Power of Leah and Rachel

 In this week’s parashah we read about the “baby wars” between Leah and Rachel as each try to outdo each other in giving their shared husband sons. It’s easy to dismiss as a misogynistic satire of two women fighting for their husband’s attention, but that’s only the top layer of this fascinating story. A closer lookContinue reading “Shabbat VaYetze: Rediscovering the Power of Leah and Rachel”