The Portion of Vayeitzei

Genesis 28:10-32:3

This week’s portion tells of Jacob’s journey to find a suitable wife among his mother’s relatives. Along the way he dreams his famous dream of angels ascending and descending a ladder. In the home of his uncle, Laban, Jacob marries his two cousins and their two maidservants, who between them bear him twelve children. Jacob then works to earn himself an income, finally fleeing his uncle’s house in an effort to return to his own homeland, Israel.

 

 

Topic 1: Jacob’s Dream

After receiving his parents’ blessings to go seek a wife among his mother’s relatives, Jacob leaves his home in Beersheba and heads in the direction of Haran. Along the way, he stops to rest, dreaming that night of a tall ladder reaching up to the heavens. In his dream, Jacob sees angels ascending and descending… Read More »

 

 

Topic 2: Jacob Works for His Wives

Jacob turns eastward, towards his uncle’s home-town. There he encounters a group of shepherds gathering to water their sheep. He comments that the day is yet young, asking why they are waiting at the well rather than watering their sheep and moving on. The shepherds answer that they must wait till everyone has gathered to… Read More »

 

 

Topic 3: Jacob’s Family Grows

God is acutely aware of Jacob’s preference for Rachel over Leah, and thus grants Leah children first. With the birth and naming of each child, Leah’s hope for her husband’s affection is evident. Reuben, meaning “See -- a son!”, Simeon, meaning “God has heard”, and Levi, meaning “accompany”, are each named out of Leah’s hope… Read More »

 

 

Topic 4: Jacob’s Wages

With the birth of Joseph, Jacob decides the time has come to return to his homeland. The Israel Bible explains that according to a verse in Obadiah (1:18), Joseph is compared to a flame and Esau to “a house of straw”. Thus, once the “flame” destined to combat Esau is born, Jacob could confront his… Read More »

 

 

Topic 5: Jacob Flees Laban

As Jacob’s wealth increases, Laban’s sons become jealous of their cousin. Jacob realizes the climate is turning against him and tells his wives it is time to leave, with or without Laban’s permission. Through his conversation with them, we learn that Laban has changed the terms of their deal repeatedly over the past six years.… Read More »

 

 

Topic 6: Haftarah - Gaining Inspiration from the Flag of Israel

In his influential book “The Jewish State”, Theodore Herzl made the case for designing a proper symbol: “We have no flag, and we need one” he wrote. “If we desire to lead many men, we must raise a symbol above their heads. I would suggest a white flag, with seven golden stars” to represent “the… Read More »
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