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, February 20, 2013

Sons and Behavior and Consequences Later

(Howards Wonderful Notes from our class with Rabbi Marder 2/16!)

Who is the worthy author that will write a novel based on this episode?  Watch out, Anita Diamant!
·      More on 35:22-26
*      Verse 22 - “… and Israel heard [of it]” is a sentence with no object; what does Israel [Jacob] hear?  He says nothing in the text, but saves his admonition of Reuven for a deathbed speech in Chapter 49.
*      The use of “Israel” and “Jacob” seems random, although commentators have plenty to say about that; see above at 35:9-10.
*      There is an abrupt transition to “the sons of Jacob were twelve” with a gap or pause (פ) in the text itself.
+Munk – Jacob feared that he has one bad son, but Reuven’s transgression did not result in banishment from the clan, like Ishmael and Esau.
+The exact purpose of [what Sarna (JPS Torah Commentary) terms a paragraph that ends with the middle of a verse] is unknown.  There is much more to the story than this bit of text.
+Jacob was able to forgive his son; there was no split or rupture.  Is there a precedent here?   Shimeon and Levi killed many people but stayed in the family.
+Physical separation of the text suggests that parties involved needed time to recover from the incident, to settle down, gather their wits, to separate themselves from the incident and one another.
*      Twelve sons but Dinah is not mentioned.
+Midrash Rabbah 24 (cited in Munk’s commentary on this verse and on 46:27) - The number 12 is engraved on Creation.  The above-mentioned pause indicates that the “latter part of the verse a celestial response to Jacob’s anguish [that] was expressed before the pause …”
-Twelve signs of the zodiac
-Twelve months of the year
-Twelve hours of daylight [the average throughout the year]
-For the first time, the Torah uses this number to count the tribes of Israel.  Thus, the “Future Jewish nation was established on the same solid and immutable foundation as that which govern the laws of nature.” 
The problem is that twelve zodiac signs and twelve months of the year are human constructs, hardly laws of nature.
+The family is complete – Jacob no longer had intercourse with Leah -- so it’s time to count them; but where is Dinah?
+Sons of Leah are mentioned first; then Rachel, then Bilhah, then Zilpah – order of the marriage.  Compare this with episode before the encounter with Esau, where Jacob is preparing for battle: the order is reversed.  Concubines’ sons, Leah’s sons, Rachel’s sons.  Literary theory: the order is not random but is purposeful.
+Patterns of the ordering – a leitmotif – especially who is first in Jacob’s life; who takes precedence.  Jacob is driven to be first.  But at Isaac’s funeral, Esau is mentioned first.
+Order of Avot prayer: originally, Leah came before Rachel; she was Jacob’s first wife.  In latest Mishkan Tefillah, Rachel comes before Leah because:
-He met Rachel first and was his best love.
-From Rachel comes Joseph …
-What about Bilhah and Zilpah?
·      Verse 26 - יֻלַּד is a singular verb, suggesting the brothers were one tribe.
·      35:27story continues from before Dinah [alleged] rape
*      Jacob finally comes home to Hebron, the primary residence of the patriarchs.
*      Eric Auerbach – Torah leaves open spaces to reader to fill in. [lacunae?  I hope so; it’s such a cool word.]
*      Expectation of mentioning of Rebecca; where is she?  Commentators say she died.  Jacob loses the opportunity to say goodbye to her.
*      גָּר [from root גור] refers to temporary sojourn, not the same as ישב, dwell or reside.
*      Sforno – coming back to place where grandparent lived will get make you in high regard if the forebears were in good stead.
*      Isaac’s death may be out of chronological order.  Isaac lives much longer and establishes a relationship with Jacob.  Torah is not written in chronological order, but in thematic order.  This one concludes the theme of Jacob; next one is Joseph.
+Rashi explains this in his commentary to 35:27 and 28:9, but if you can follow it, you deserve an extra hammentaschen or latke, depending on who wins the debate.
+In JPS Torah Commentary.  Genesis, page 369 (footnote 17), Nahum Sarna has a much simpler explanation.
-Jacob was 91 when Joseph was born (28:6-9).
-Joseph was 17 when he was sold into slavery (37:2), making Jacob 91+17 = 108.
-Isaac was 60 when Jacob was born (25:26), making Isaac 108+60 = 168 when Joseph was sold into slavery.
-Isaac died at 180 (35:28) and thus lived 12 years beyond Joseph’s sale. Joseph’s story begins in Chapter 37 before Isaac’s death.
·      35:28-29 Isaac dies
*      He takes his last breath; dies; and then is gathered to his peoples.
*       Sarna (JPS Torah Commentary to Genesis 25:8)– the words “gathered to his kin” suggests that there is an afterlife.  Eli Munk’s commentary to 25:8 and 15:15 says much the same.
*      There is no reference to “he lived” (חי) as with Abraham (25:8).


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