Love, jealousy, greed, cheating, theft, manipulation, and rags-to-riches via hard work and genetic engineering. All that, in this week’s portion. I always wonder if those who say they want marriage and family modeled on the Bible have read Genesis. Maybe they have, and they just want a really exciting family life.
When we left Jacob, he was heading to Haran and Rebecca’s brother Laban, fleeing his brother Esau’s wrath. He now has a dream (28:10-22) in which angels are going up and down a ladder that reaches to heaven. (One interpretation in Midrash Tanhuma is that the angels symbolize the nations that will rule over Israel in the future, the height of the rung being proportional to the length of that rule. Rashi (1040-1105), OTOH, thinks the angels are basically changing shifts, the ones from Canaan being replaced with those that will accompany Jacob to Haran. See Nehama Leibowitz, New Studies in Bereishit, pp. 298-301.) In the dream, Jacob has his first communication from the Lord, similar to that heard by Abraham and by Isaac about his descendants and the land. Awed upon awakening, he sets up an altar and names the place “Beth El” (house of God).
As he approaches Haran, he sees a lovely young shepherdess and learns she is his cousin Rachel. Overcome with emotion, he rolls the large stone off the well (there’s always a well) and waters her sheep. He kisses her, weeps, and only then introduces himself. Laban is happy to have Jacob as a shepherd, though he’s not happy Jacob showed up penniless. He works 7 years for Rachel’s hand and is tricked into marrying older sister Leah instead. Jacob is allowed to marry Rachel after the weeklong festivities for Leah are concluded, but he has to agree to work 7 more years for Laban. Understandably, Leah is unhappy that Jacob loves Rachel more, but she is gradually consoled as she has four sons. Rachel, having borne no children yet, says to Jacob, “Give me children, or I shall die.”(30:1). Jacob angrily replies that it’s not his fault. Note that neither of them pray for divine help, in contrast to Isaac and Rebecca. But, like Sarah, Rachel donates her maid Bilhah to Jacob for the cause and, two sons later, Leah gives her maid Zilpah to Jacob as well, for two more. Rachel trades time with Jacob to Leah in exchange for mandrakes (a reputed infertile\ity remedy), a reunion that eventually leads to two more sons and a daughter. Finally, Rachel has a son, Joseph. Now everyone takes a deep breath.
Jacob wants to take his household home, to Canaan. Laban, a model of a bad boss, doesn’t want to let him go, because Jacob’s efforts have greatly increased Laban’s wealth. They agree on certain types of livestock as wages. These appear to be the least desirable ones, but Jacob outwits Laban by careful selective breeding. As Jacob’s wealth increases, so does the jealousy of Laban’s sons, until it is really time to go. They do. Rachel steals Laban’s household idols maybe to “save” her father, maybe for her own use (yes, for a long time some aspects of idolatry co-existed with monotheism), and is able to conceal them even when Laban rides after the caravan and searches for them. Jacob and Laban then have a reasonably peaceful parting. Finally, Jacob, Rachel, Leah, Bilhah, Zilpah, Reuben, Shimon, Levi, Judah, Dan, Naphtali, Gad, Asher, Issachar, Zebulun, Dinah, Joseph, “large flocks, maidservants and menservants, camels and asses“(30:43) head out toward Canaan and home.
Funny, Short, Amusing Ladder Jokes
- · I was out in the garden with my stepladder today. Not my real ladder. No, I don’t get along with my real ladder. – Harry Hill
- · Notice in an office: ‘Would the person who took the step ladder yesterday please bring it back or further steps will be taken.’
- · I fell off a 50ft ladder the other day, but luckily I was on the bottom step.
A little boy was attending his first wedding. After the service, his cousin asked him, “How many women can a man marry?”
“Sixteen,” the boy responded.
His cousin was amazed that he had an answer so quickly. “How do you know that?”
“Easy,” the little boy said. “All you have to do is add it up, like the Bishop said: 4 better, 4 worse, 4 richer, 4 poorer”
(What follows is a spoof – totally fictitious! And slightly abridged.)
South Philly Man Arrested For Marrying 23 Women
Written by Fish
Philadelphia PA– Anthony Romero was arrested today on bigamy charges. Prosecutors say he married at least 23 times, all of them women from his South Philadelphia neighborhood. All the women lived in the same modest blocks of row houses in the Italian-American enclave. Prosecutors said Mr. Romero could get up to 230 years in prison.
The marriages took place all on the same day. It wasn’t until last week before anyone noticed. Maria Romero is Anthony’s first wife and explained what happened in this interview in her quaint South Philly row house.
“Me and Anthony got married in 1999 or 2000. I forget. Maybe it was a year with lots of zeros in. Ant’nys a real big zero.” she laughed. Mary took out some wedding photos and brushed back a sudden tear.
“Look at my bridesmaids. Anthony married them all, the goomba! He married Maria Giota, Mary Rocco, Marie Contessa, Mary Catchatoria, and Mary Scalia all in the same day.” said the tearful Mary Romero. “We all live in the same block too. Ant’ny said he was just checking each house to make sure no mail got delivered wrong. Guess people think we’re dumb. Hey listen! How could we know? Every guy in South Philly is named Ant’ny.”
Anthony Romero was held without bail but was happy to give his side of the story.
“All these broads were real happy to marry me, ya know what I mean…? It’s not like I was twisting anybody’s arm, you know. And they all look and act alike. It was like being married to the same broad anyway.”
All of Mary Romero’s 23 neighbors came out on their stoops (porches) to add their concerns…. “We all had kids with this goomba!” they shouted together.
About 50 kids came out on the stoop. All the kids are named either Anthony or Mary.
“We can’t even let our kids play together now, since they’re all cousins now, or something.” said one of the wives. “This kinda crap is gonna give South Philly a bad name, ya know what I mean…??”
A Cloning Poem
Mary had a little lamb, its fleece was slightly gray,
It didn’t have a father, just some borrowed DNA.
It sort of had a mother, though the ovum was on loan,
It was not so much a lambkin, as a little lamby clone.
And soon it had a fellow clone, and soon it had some more,
They followed her to school one day, all cramming through the door.
It made the children laugh and sing, the teachers found it droll,
There were too many lamby clones, for Mary to control.
No other could control the sheep, since their programs didn’t vary,
So the scientists resolved it all, by simply cloning Mary.
But now they feel quite sheepish, those scientists unwary,
One problem solved, but what to do, with Mary, Mary, Mary!
Bad Boss Cartoons
Quotes About Deceit
“Just because something isn’t a lie does not mean that it isn’t deceptive. A liar knows that he is a liar, but one who speaks mere portions of truth in order to deceive is a craftsman of destruction.”
― Criss Jami