Chavarah- Jewish Community Learning

A blog of Jewish study and traditions. Notes from classes: Torah Study with Rabbi Marder, Toledot and Shabbaton as well as other details found of interest.

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Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Jacobs Journey Begins

Torah Study 9-25    Genesis 32:1-9. 
New chapter!
Jacobs journey.. Send messenger to Esau then response he is coming with his 400 men...

Anxiety.  Split the camp.

Ended last chapter with the boundary between nations
Start this chapter with a new boundary of protection.

A brother offended.  Proverb... Harder to win the brother than to win a battle..
Returning home is part of our nature.  Climatic confrontation for Jacob...
He is finding his own demons within him...

Departure of Lavan..wake up early... Kiss sons (grandsons) and daughters...his blessing. Sforno,  the blessing of a common person..teaches the effects of a sincere blessing.  From the heart.  A selfless blessing shows the nature of our soul that includes the Devine

Lavan he went and returned to his place..  
Midrash...he returned to his former ways. And his former state of poverty.

Eli Munk.  Jacob's influence had no long term moral impact on Laban.  Vs Jacob is continuing to improve.

Ambiguous verse...angels of God encountered him.. Unusual verb for meeting...same as when he was running away where he slept on his first night out.

A lot of commentary on this.
On his way...going forward in both a physical and spiritual way.  
Rashi..who are angels?  Angels come to escort him to eretz Israel.

Raban, says the border is farther away, the angels are to protect him from the dangers in this area.

Another interpretation is that they are messengers.  

Midrash that Esau was going to fight Laban.  Or that they are messengers from Esau.
Verse numbering is controversial.  The Christian Bible starts the next chapter after Laban leaves.

Etz Chyim...points out the angels noted at the beginning and now here...indicates they were there for the whole twenty years.. Now he sees them.  

View from the point of view of the angels that there is a family that represents potential to bring Gods presence to the world.

Name of place,  Mahanaim.  God's camp or Godly camp.  He recognized the angels.
Just Jacob saw the angel.  
Hebrew grammar...means two...only two.  Dual form.  "aim" on end implies it is two or twin camps.

Camps of angels...One escort out of Israel, one escort into Israel.
Or Jacobs camp and the angels camp...both aware camps of God.

SRH. On the way to homeland looking for God...angels looking for the people to bring God.
How many angels
600000 angels.  Or 1200000 angels (double)

148 verses in the parasha numerical value of the name Mahanaim...

V4 starts new portion vayishlach.
Jacob has a strategy.

Diplomacy in this section.
Sends Malachim ...who are they? Angels, (Rashi) human messengers (r. Alter), 

Send to Esau, his brother... To land of Seir in field of Edom (red).  Word play here.

Message ... Grammatical nuances here.  To my lord Esau, ... From your servant Jacob.
Formal mode of address.   Motivated by fear.  Controversy.  Reflects back on what Rebecca was told the elder will serve the younger.

I stayed with Laban ... Temporary...he was an alien, stranger.  Or not made important by Laban, no need to hate me.  Or. Numerical value of Gartie..613...not learn from his bad influence of Laban.

Acquired an ox and donkey...use singular to mean the plural.
Omits. Mention of camels...understate his possessions so the gifts seem as even a greater gift...

Proverb... Vessel that is empty except for one coin makes a loud noise.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Jacob & Laban Negotiate Peace

Torah study 9-15
Genesis. 31:36-54

Witness of an agreement between Jacob and Laban
Mound of stones...
Eat by the mountain...

Jacob's accumulated rage against Laban.

Wrestling Jacob: Deception, Identity, and Freudian Slips in Genesis
by Shmuel Klitsner

V19...   Stylistic technique...repetition of a word ..."stolen"
Jacob has been a thief. Now everything is seen as stolen..he is being accused of being a thief again and again...

Jacob defends himself. Points out that he did steal...
Para praxis ... Mistake, Freudian slip... All goes back to how he stole his brother's birthright.

Wrestling With Angels by  Naomi H. Rosenblatt.. Running away from conflict.  Must face out problems to go forward...

V43.. Laban responds... That everything is his...daughters...  What can I do for them? Plaut commentary- anthropological reading...politically that the daughters really do belong to the father...
Or.. It could be just the bluster of a defeated man who was exposed..
Robert Alter... Laban fears Jacob

Is it a legal attack or is it a statement of a defeated man.

Now Laban wants to make peace.  Now that Jacob has made a stand.

Ritual of a covenant.  Two distinct elements...the word two is repeated in this passage.
v45.  Make a monument .. A pillar of stone.
Stones ...first night away. Stone as pillow..makes well he moves a stone.  Here a stone is set as a symbol of the covenant with Laban... Later the sone he erects for Rachel.

Stones are used as a way to remember.  Stones are a witness...

Steele ...

Jacob tells them to gather stones..same word as gathering grapes ...erects a mound of at this mound...part of a treaty making custom to share a meal marking the alliance.

Word v 47.. Name the place two terms. Aramaic from Laban . For mound of witness  then gal et from Jacob meaning the same thing... In Hebrew.   Only place in Torah that has aramaic ... But is in the prophets and writings.. Kaddish is in Aramaic...and the Haggadah...

Haggadah when invite guests to the the local language.
V48. Place of Gilad got its name...mountain of witness...Arabic ...the type of rock probably the real reason...but this is another way the name happened.

V50.  Refers to mitzpah also. Custom of Mitzpah a watchtower..may God watch over us.. Two people wear it... Like a disk broken in half. May God watch over us when we are apart...

Terms of treaty
Personal ... About protection of rights of his daughters...mentions daughters twice ...all four including Zilpah and  Bilhah

The husbands obligation is to satisfies the wife sexually as well as other ways.

Only place in Torah where a father speaks out for the welfare of his daughters.

Relates to marriage contracts..

He mentions that God is the witness... Cannot have a relative be a witness...

V52. Second monument   Significance.  Mound and pillar.
This is the boundary between the two people.  And it becomes disputed territory.

God of their father... Who is the common father?  Terrah
So call on the gods of all people.

Second meal that everyone takes part in...

Naomi Rosenblat ...
Rewards of reconciliation .... Jacob and Laban must reconcile.
Make peace and release anger and resentment...

Monday, September 10, 2012

Jacob finds his voice...

Torah Study 9-8   Genesis 31:36-49

Jacob finds his voice...
He was accused by his father in law...Jacob doesn't know about the idols. 
Now he finally shows his anger and outrage over all that happened over the past twenty years.
He is incensed...

Jacob makes a legal case against Laban

Robert Alter...note Jacob's words are poetic. In formal poetic parallelism.

Words that describe wrongdoing.  
Het wrongdoing done unintentionally..missing the mark.
Pesha willful rebellion against God
Avon- twisted..commit wrongdoing out of craving.  Iniquity.

Jacob asks ...what is my sin?

Chafitz Hayim...says that Jacob was wrong to "blow up". (compares to David when he had an opportunity to kill Saul). Lesson - need to be careful with words...
The more you show your rage the hotter you get...need to learn to control your rage.

Jacob asks why Laban hotly pursued him.  

References to heat..

You ransacked my belongings... Word.
Gen 27:12 ... Jacob being encouraged to deceive father ...same verb used.
What did you find?  Nothing.
Set it before our kinsman.  What is IT? 
Let them decide.

Intense description of what Jacob has been through over the last 20 years.
Accuses Laban to be a sneak.
About the livestock...ewes never miscarried..he was a diligent shepherd and never ate the rams...

Richard Friedman.. Ewes means Rachel. And word for ram links to the name for Leah.
Double meaning that he has also taken care of his daughters.

Never brought you treifa ... Tet reish fey ...something that is torn.  Reference to meat that had been mangled by wolves or the like.  Demonstrates his moral conduct.
How he suffered.  Laban made him pay for things not responsible for.  Word theft comes up again and again.  

Worked 14 years for wives and 6 for his flocks.
Changed wages time and again... Constantly trying to deprive him of what he was due.
In his burst of anger..  Then the mode changes from poetry to prose...

Frustrating to have to work with someone who is trustworthy.
V40 ravaged by scorching heat 
V41 twenty years ..he was away from his parents for 22 years...Joseph was also separated for 22 years.

This is a turning point in Jacobs life.

V42 he is a person of faith shows... Speaks of God...and fear of Isaac...
The one that Isaac reveres...linked to the Aikidah by commentators.
God noticed him and the toil of his takes work to receive the blessings of God.

Wednesday, September 05, 2012

All about the missing idols?

Torah Study 8/24

Genesis 31:25-37

Laban chased after Jacob... Accused Jacob.

Rachel stole Laban's gods.

Rachel sat on the gods to hide them...

Face to face confrontation.

How does it feel to be accused?

Justified or not.

V25 Laban caught up with Jacob.

Pitch tent... Wording Hebrew.

Taft kuf ayin give a blast. As in the shofar takiah....

Thrust...relation to pitching a tent,

Confrontation between the two forces. (Arameans ve Hebrews)

"what have you done?"

Accusation of wrongdoing. Used several times in Torah in same words.

Laban says:

"You carried off my daughters like war captives."

Term is like cattle driven out...

Laban presenting himself as the innocent victim..

Dramatic irony..

V28: would have given the a party... Expresses sadness... Why did you sneak off?

And you stoke from me...his family,

Sons refer to grandsons.

Kimkee ... Grandchildren are like children.

Not let him kiss them.

Kiss in Gen 41:40 about Joseph ...idiom connected to household..through mouth all sustained.

Reference Laban not permitted to give them anything.

Robert Alter. Laban..presenting himself in an inappropriate way.

Parallel to the story about Esau...

Threat.. He can hurt them... If he wants to

Book...Growth thru Torah.

Threat is a sign of power... Contradicts his show of affection.,.

Then explains why he won't hurt them..

God of your fathers ... Warned Laban not to do anything to Jacob

Another accusation,,,you longed for your fathers house...why did he steal the idols.

Focus on the importance of the idols.

Do different religions borrow icons and symbols from each other... Is it stealing their "idols".

More radical way to look at it is that this is an internal dialog with himself...he is being accused of stealing... Again and again.