PRAYER FOR PEACE – WE STAND WITH ISRAEL
Adonai oz le’amo yitën, Adonai yevarëch et amo vashalom.
May the Eternal One grant strength to our people;
may the Eternal One bless our people with peace.
From Reform Judaism 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 12:13-14:10 (most Ashkenazim) or Hosea 11:7-12:12 (Sefardim and 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 Reform Judaism https://reformjudaism.org/torah/portion/vayeitzei
By: Rabbi Kari Tuling
STRUGGLING WITH TORAH and REFLECTION
No Torah Study or Shazoom this week. Please see the NEW Torah Study-Shazoom schedule below. NEXT week we will continue studying Tehillim (Psalms). You can read this week’s Torah Portion at https://www.sefaria.org/Genesis.28.10-32.3 and the Haftarah at https://www.sefaria.org/Hosea.11.7-14.10
From “The Torah / A Women’s Commentary” edited by Dr. Tamara Cohn Eskenazi and Rabbi Andrea L. Weiss, Ph.D., Women of Reform Judaism/The Federation of Temple Sisterhoods and URJ Press New York 2008
ויצא Vayeitzei – Genesis 28:10–32:3
Contemporary Reflection – by Wendy Zierler, pp. 178-9
IN GENESIS 31, Jacob calls his wives Rachel and Leah out to the field and confidentially expresses his desire to return to Canaan. Vataan Rachel v’Leah (31:14): Rachel and Leah respond in one voice–as indicated by the singular verb form–expressing a shared anger against their father and a willingness to leave Haran. Jacob then gets up, places his wives and sons on camels, carries off his cattle and other property, and departs.
At first, Jacob appears as the central actor in this narrative. Everything is said and done in relation to him, stated in masculine possessive terms. In 31:19, however, Rachel seizes the opportunity afforded by Laban’s going off to shear his sheep to steal her father’s t’rafim. Until this point, Rachel and Leah have followed a course initiated by Jacob and his concerns. Here, however, Rachel initiates and plots her own destiny. So much so that in the next verse Jacob is seen as following Rachel’s lead: Rachel stole the t’rafim (v. 19) and Jacob “stole the mind (literally: heart) of Laban the Aramean” (v. 20).
Jacob re-assumes center stage in the narrative when Laban overtakes him on his journey and the two men begin to air their respective grievances. But from the moment Rachel steals the t’rafim, Jacob ceases to control the action or facts. It is in a condition of ironic ignorance that Jacob makes his rash pronouncement (v. 32): “But the one with whom you find your gods shall not live.” (Compare Jephthah’s vow in Judges 11:30 to sacrifice the first to come out to meet him, a vow that leads him to sacrifice his daughter.)
Several midrashic sources contend that Jacob’s death sentence for the theft of Laban’s t’rafim is borne out in Rachel’s tragic death after giving birth to Benjamin (for example, B’reishit Rabbah 74.32). According to a plain reading of Genesis 31, however, Rachel emerges from the episode victorious and unscathed. After all, Jacob’s curse is conditioned upon Laban actually finding the t’rafim in someone’s possession–something that Laban never accomplishes.
Laban conducts a thorough search of Jacob’s camp: Jacob’s tent, Leah’s, the two maidservants’, and Rachel’s–v’lo matza (and he finds nothing), a verb construction that appears three times (21:33, 34, 35). What has Rachel done to elude her father? She has placed the t’rafim in a camel’s saddle (echoing how Jacob put his wives and sons onto camels in v. 17) and conceals them by sitting on this same saddle. She then shrewdly apologizes to her father for not obeying usual custom and rising before him as he searches her tent. “The way of women is upon me” (31:35), Rachel claims, cunningly manipulating the (male) menstruation taboo to her own advantage.
What are these t’rafim that Rachel risks so much to steal? What did they stand for in Rachel’s time, and what do they mean for us today?
According to Rashi, the 11th-century commentator, the t’rafim were household idols that Rachel steals from her father for pious, monotheistic reasons: “in order to distance him from the practice of idol worship.” This interpretation clearly stems from rabbinic discomfort with the idea of Rachel as idol worshipper. But if Rachel were so angry with her father as to be willing to leave his house forever without so much as a goodbye, would she really care about his spiritual fate?
Based on other instances in the Bible where the same word appears, other traditional exegetes identify the t’rafim with the practice of divination. Thus, Rachel steals the t’rafim, which were used by ancient magicians as a means of telling the future, in order to prevent Laban from knowing Jacob’s plans or whereabouts. If that were the case, however, Rachel should have simply broken them. Why does she go to the trouble of stealing them, hiding them in a saddle, and tricking her father?
Several contemporary biblical scholars have argued that possession of the “household gods” was related to issues of clan leadership or inheritance. Accordingly, the t’rafim are symbolic tokens that indicate Rachel’s right to take her children and possessions away from her father and hand them over to her husband. And yet, Rachel’s decision not to inform Jacob of her theft of the t’rafim suggests that she acts for her own sake, not Jacob’s.
Along these lines, feminist biblical scholar J. E. Lapsley argues that Rachel steals the t’rafim because her status as a woman in a patriarchal household prevents her from confronting her father with her own grievances about her rightful inheritance. “Therefore, she goes about getting justice from her father through devious and extra-legal means” (“The Voice of Rachel,” Genesis: A Feminist Companion to the Bible (Second Series), ed. Athalya Brener, 1998, p. 238). In telling her father that she cannot “rise before” him because the “way of women is upon her,” Rachel is “speaking two languages simultaneously.” Laban hears Rachel as saying that she cannot honor him by standing because she is menstruating. But Rachel’s speech also reads as a complaint that she has no forum for rising before her father and pleading her case for inheritance; the social “way of women” constrains her possibilities for speech, advocacy, and direct action. According to Lapsley, Rachel’s “subversive action in stealing the t’rafim is matched by her equally subversive undermining of male definitions of women and her creation of new meanings out of male-generated language” (p. 242). According to this interpretation, Rachel steals not only the t’rafim but also the language that has been used by this patriarchy to define her as woman and limit her access to culture and law.
Rachel thus emerges from this story as an archetypal feminist writer, who dares to steal across the border of masculine culture, seize control of her cultural inheritance, and make it her own. Understood this way, the theft of the t’rafim becomes a story about women’s potential to use and craft language, both holy and mundane, in all of its many meanings, to speak potently–and cause others to listen.
From “Mishkan T’filah / A Reform Siddur”:
FOR OUR COUNTRY p.376
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.
PRAYER FOR THE STATE OF ISRAEL p.552
O HEAVENLY ONE, Protector and Redeemer of Israel, bless the State of Israel which marks the dawning of hope for all who seek peace. Shield it beneath the wings of your love; spread over it the canopy of Your peace; send Your light and truth to all who lead and advise, guiding them with Your good counsel. Establish peace in the land and fullness of joy for all who dwell there. 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, 12 Kislev through 18 Kislev, we lovingly remember:
Francine B. Mendell
“Bubbie” of TKH Member Ruben Gomez
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 NOT meet this evening, Friday, November 24, 2023.
Shabbat Shalom – Buen Shabbat/Gut Shabbos
PS – About Tehillim (Psalms) and the NEW schedule through December 2023:
From My Jewish Learning
From Jewish Encyclopedia
From Encyclopedia Britannica
NEW Schedule for Torah Study and Shazoom (Arizona Time Zone):
November 24, 2023 – NONE
December 1, 2023 – Torah Study at 6 pm and Shazoom at 7:30 pm
December 8, 2023 – Shazoom at 6:30 pm [Chanukah 2nd Candle before sundown]
December 15, 2023 – Torah Study at 6 pm and Shazoom at 7:30 pm [Chanukah ends]
December 22, 2023 – Shazoom at 6:30 pm
December 29, 2023 – Torah Study at 6 pm and Shazoom at 7:30 pm