“Sow the wind and reap the whirlwind” – based on Hosea 8:7
DECEMBER BIRTHDAYS, ANNIVERSARIES, AND SIGNIFICANT EVENTS
Mazal Tov – Mazal Bueno to all those celebrating a birthday, anniversary, or significant event during the Month of December. If we were together at Temple Kol Hamidbar, we would extend a Tallit over you, say a special prayer for you, and recite the following blessing (cf Num. 6:24-26):
- May the Eternal One bless you and protect you!
- May the Eternal One deal kindly and graciously with you!
- May the Eternal One bestow favor upon you and grant you peace!
KËIN YEHI RATZON (Let it be so!)
From ReformJudaism.org https://reformjudaism.org/torah/portion/vayeitzei
Vayeitzei [וַיֵּצֵא – And (Jacob) Left] – Genesis 28:10−32:3
And Jacob left Beersheba and set out for Haran. – Genesis 28:10
- Jacob dreams of angels going up and down a ladder. God blesses him. Jacob names the place Bethel. (28:10-22)
- Jacob works seven years in order to marry Rachel, but Laban tricks Jacob into marrying Leah, Rachel’s older sister. (29:16-25)
- Jacob marries Rachel but only after having to commit himself to seven more years of working for Laban. (29:26-30)
- Leah, Rachel, and their maidservants, Bilhah and Zilpah, give birth to eleven sons and one daughter. (29:31-30:24)
- Jacob and his family leave Laban’s household with great wealth. (31:1-32:3)
Hosea 11:7-12:12 (Ashkenazim and Sephardim) or Hosea 12:13-14:10 (some Ashkenazim)
From The Haftarah Commentary, Gunther Plaut/Chaim Stern UAHC Press 1996 p.74
Connection of haftarah and sidra:
The weekly sidra’s climax is Jacob’s struggle with the angel, a scene that Hosea retells as a metaphor for his own time.
From ReformJudaism.org https://reformjudaism.org/torah/portion/vayeitzei
By: Rabbi Stacy Rigler
STRUGGLING WITH TORAH and REFLECTION
For Torah Study, instead of the portion from the Book of Genesis that is read on this Shabbat, we will read the Haftarah (a selection from the prophets) following this portion. This week’s Haftarah is Hosea 11:7-12:14. You can read this week’s Torah Portion at https://www.sefaria.org/Genesis.28.10-32.3 and the Haftarah we will be studying at https://www.sefaria.org/Hosea.11.7-12.14
From “The Torah / A Women’s Commentary” edited by Dr. Tamara Cohn Eskenazi and Rabbi Andrea L. Weiss, Ph.D.
ויצא Vayeitzei – Genesis 28:10–32:3
Another View – by Tammi J. Schneider, p. 176
FOR MANY, the love story between Rachel and Jacob shows the text’s preference for Rachel over Leah. If one reads the story through modern eyes, where love conquers all, then Rachel seems to be more important than Leah. However, if one reads this parashah with an eye toward its own biblical concerns, then Rachel and Leah look very different.
The love story begins with Jacob seeing Rachel (29:10). The text notes that Rachel is “beautiful of form and face” (v. 17). To modern readers beauty is positive, but in the Hebrew Bible it is dangerous for women. Abram charges that Sarai’s beauty threatens his life (12:11–12), and Amnon rapes Tamar, supposedly because of her beauty (II Samuel 13). In other places in the Bible, when people make choices because of what they see, those choices prove to be misguided. For example, Lot chooses to live in the Jordan plain because it looks nicer than Canaan (Genesis 13:10–11). Samson marries a Philistine woman because of her appearance (Judges 14:1–3), and the results are disastrous. Clearly the Bible does not recommend judging a book by its cover.
The text notes that “seeing Leah was disfavored, יהוה opened her womb” (Genesis 29:31). This clearly means that the Deity sympathized with Leah. Leah names her first child Reuben because of a play on words that the Deity saw her plight, but she adds what she hopes it will bring her: the love of her husband (v. 32). The second child follows the same pattern; Simeon is so named because God “heard” of her plight (v. 33). The third son, Levi, is named in the hope that her husband will be attached to her (v. 34). All three names reflect not only thankfulness but also a need for more–namely, Jacob’s love. With her fourth son, something finally changes and she names him Judah because, “This time I give thanks to יהוה” (v. 35). Thus Judah, who becomes the forefather of most of the Jewish people, is so named because his mother was simply thankful to the Deity to have him.
Post-biblical Interpretations – by Dvora E. Weisberg, pp. 176-177
Now Laban had two daughters (29:16). Midrash B’reishit Rabbah 70.15 portrays the sisters Rachel and Leah as equal partners in building the Jewish people: “Both produced chieftains and kings…. Both produced prophets and judges.” Leah was “greater in gifts,” in that her sons were the ancestors of the priests and the Davidic kings.
Leah’s eyes were weak (29:16). In B’reishit Rabbah 70.16, Rabbi Yohanan explains that Leah’s eyes had grown weak from weeping. It had been expected that Rebekah’s two sons would marry Laban’s two daughters–and Esau was intended for Leah. Hearing negative reports about Esau’s conduct, Leah had wept, praying that her destiny would change. Rabbi Huna observes that Leah’s prayer had been powerful enough to alter her fate, but in the process her eyes were permanently affected.
In the morning (29:25). The commentators are amazed that Leah fooled Jacob. After living in Laban’s house for seven years, surely Jacob could tell Rachel and Leah apart! Furthermore, how did Laban prevent Rachel from warning Jacob of the deception? Midrash Eichah Rabbah, proem 24, explains that Rachel was a willing–albeit unhappy–partner to Laban’s plan. In this midrash, Rachel recounts her version of the events of Genesis 29. Aware that her father was plotting to deceive Jacob, she warned her future husband of Laban’s plans. Jacob and Rachel agreed upon a sign to allow Jacob to distinguish between the sisters. But then, Rachel changed her mind, realizing that if Laban’s plan failed, Leah would be shamed. Instead of thwarting her father’s plot, Rachel aided her sister in the deception: “That evening, my sister took my place with Jacob and I taught her the signs I had given him so that he would think she was Rachel. I also hid under the bed upon which they lay, and when Jacob spoke to my sister, I responded while she was silent so that he would not recognize her voice. In this way, I showed kindness to my sister; I did not act on my jealousy and saved her from disgrace.”
Laban then gave his maid Bilhah (29:29). According to the 11th-century commentator Rashi, the slaves Bilhah and Zilpah were Laban’s daughters by his concubine, thus suitable mothers of four of the tribes of Israel (on 31:50). The childless Rachel’s use of Bilhah parallels Sarah’s earlier use of Hagar in 16:1–3 (B’reishit Rabbah 71.7). Leah’s motives in giving Zilpah to Jacob are less clear; some commentators suggest that Leah acted to ensure that Jacob would father twelve sons. The Midrash Tanna D’Vei Eliyahu Rabbah 25 (Ish-Shalom edn., p. 138) counts Rachel’s and Leah’s willingness to offer their maidservants to Jacob as among the righteous acts of the matriarchs that led to Israel’s redemption from Egypt. Some traditions include Bilhah and Zilpah among the matriarchs (B’midbar Rabbah 12; Shir HaShirim Rabbah 6; P’sikta D’Rav Kahana 1.10).
“Let me have children” (30:1). Rachel’s demand is understood by rabbinic tradition as a complaint against Jacob. She expects him to pray on her behalf, as his father Isaac did for Rebekah. Jacob was criticized by some rabbis for his harsh reply (B’reishit Rabbah 71.7). Isaac Arama, a 15th-century commentator in Spain, attributed Jacob’s frustration to Rachel’s insistence that a childless woman is worthless. He argues that women have two functions: like men, they can develop their intellectual and spiritual qualities, and they can also bear and raise children. Jacob wants Rachel to recognize that she can have a meaningful life even if she has no children (Akedat Yitzchak on Genesis 3:20).
Afterwards she bore a daughter (30:21). The power of Leah’s prayers is again emphasized in BT B’rachot 60a. Commenting on “afterwards,” Rav suggests that after she discovered she was pregnant, “Leah reasoned, ‘Jacob is destined to father twelve tribes. I have given birth to six sons, and the handmaidens have borne four. If this child is a son, my sister Rachel won’t be equal even to the handmaidens.’ Immediately, the child [in her womb] was transformed to a female.” In other versions of this miraculous demonstration of the efficacy of prayer, the handmaidens, Bilhah and Zilpah, join Leah in prayers on Rachel’s behalf (B’reishit Rabbah 72.6).
Reuben went and found mandrakes (30:14). In B’reishit Rabbah 72.5, the sages explain that through these mandrakes two additional tribes came into being, Issachar and Zebulun. Leah’s willingness to barter with her sister allowed her to attain precedence as the mother of six tribes and to merit burial at Jacob’s side (B’reishit Rabbah 72.3).
From “Mishkan T’filah / A Reform Siddur”:
FOR OUR COUNTRY p.516
THUS SAYS ADONAI, This is what I desire: to unlock the fetters of wickedness, and untie the cords of lawlessness; to let the oppressed go free, to break off every yoke. Share your bread with the hungry, and take the wretched poor into your home. When you see the naked, give clothing, and do not ignore your own kin.
O GUARDIAN of life and liberty, may our nation always merit Your protection. Teach us to give thanks for what we have by sharing it with those who are in need. Keep our eyes open to the wonders of creation, and alert to the care of the earth. May we never be lazy in the work of peace; may we honor those who have [served, suffered or] died in defense of our ideals. Grant our leaders wisdom and forbearance. May they govern with justice and compassion. Help us all to appreciate one another, and to respect the many ways that we may serve You. May our homes be safe from affliction and strife, and our country be sound in body and spirit. Amen.
We recite MI SHEBËRACH for the victims of abuse, brutality, conflicts, fear, natural disasters, pandemics, tragedies, violence of all kinds especially directed at individuals and specific communities including us, and war; for all those at home alone or lonely; for all those in need of physical, emotional, and mental healing. “R’fuah sh’lëmah” – a complete recovery!
We say KADDISH YATOM for those of our friends and families who have died and been buried this last week; those in the period of Sh’loshim (30 days since burial); those who have died in the last year; and those whose Yahrzeits/Anyos occur at this time; as well as the victims of brutality, conflict, disease, natural disasters, pandemics, tragedies, violence of all kinds, and war.
This coming week, 9 Kislev through 15 Kislev, we lovingly remember:
Yetta B. Steinberg
Memorial Board, Mother of TKH Member Iris Adler
Those victims of the Sho’ah (Holocaust) who died at this time of year.
“ZICHRONAM LIV’RACHAH” – MAY THEIR MEMORIES BE FOR BLESSING.
TORAH STUDY AND SHAZOOM
We will meet as usual at the regular times for Torah Study and Shazoom this evening, Friday, December 2, 2022. For the next few months we will read and discuss the Haftarah, each selection from the prophets following the weekly Torah Portion.
Zoom regularly updates its security and performance features. Making sure you have the latest version of Zoom, please join us online this evening with wine/grape juice for Kiddush and Challah for Motzi.
Topic: Torah Study – Haftarah Vayëtzëi: Hosea 11:7-12:14
Time: Dec 2, 2022 06:00 PM Arizona
Shazoom – Erev Shabbat Service
Time: Dec 2, 2022 07:30 PM Arizona
To join Torah Study and/or Shazoom click on the following link [you may need to copy it into your browser]: https://us02web.zoom.us/j/72510500854?pwd=Z3VQZWF4U1BBZytNYmh3aHFTWkFDZz09
Meeting ID: 725 1050 0854
Hint: The last character of the password is the number zero.
Shabbat Shalom – Buen Shabbat/Gut Shabbos
PS – Chanukah is a little more than two weeks away. This year, Chanukah begins at sundown on Sunday, December 18, 2022 and ends at nightfall on Monday, December 26, 2022. We hope to meet in person on Friday, December 23, 2022, starting at 6 PM for a short service followed by a Chanukah party. If so, we would begin with lighting the Chanukiah then the Shabbat candles. In the meantime, there is growing concern about the current rise in COVID cases here in Cochise County and other options for celebrating together are being considered.
PSS – About the Book of Hosea (the first of the twelve minor prophets):
From Jewish Encyclopedia
From My Jewish Learning
Timelines from Wikipedia