Vayetze (Gen. 28:10-32:3)

This week: a rags-to-riches story involving lots of breeding – both livestock and human – and the interpersonal manipulations and deception omnipresent in the book of Genesis.

Jacob flees to Haran, ostensibly to find a wife, but without all the rich gifts his grandfather Abraham had sent with Eliezer when he went there to find Isaac a wife.  Maybe Jacob was robbed along the way. Maybe Rebecca and Isaac felt a very quiet leave-taking was best in light of Esau’s fury.  Forced to sleep outdoors with a rock for a pillow, Jacob is rewarded with his first divine contact.  He dreams of a ladder (or ramp or stairway) on which angels are going up and down, and the Lord tells him of the covenant with his father and grandfather, that his descendants will multiply and inherit that land, and that the Lord will be with him.  There are various interpretations of this dream (the future of the people of Israel, Mt. Sinai, etc.), but I think I’ll stick with Rashi, who opined that the angels were just changing duty shifts. Jacob awakes, suitably shaken.  He anoints the rock with oil, calls the place “Beth El” (house of God), and vows to give a tithe of all he has to the Lord, once he safely returns with something to give.

We next see what might be the start of a pastoral romance.  Jacob meets lovely Rachel, a shepherdess, at – where else – a well (this was a common literary device of the ancient Middle East).  But, in a mirror image of Rebecca’s giving water to Eliezer and his animals, here Jacob rolls over the stone that covers the well (show off) and waters Rachel’s flock.  He knows she’s his cousin, Laban’s daughter.  He kisses her (before introducing himself) and weeps.  He is smitten.  But, unlike Eliezer, he brings no gifts, and he does not leave quickly with the bride-to-be.  After a month in Uncle Laban’s household, Laban figures he’ll be staying a while and offers to hire him.  Jacob proposes working seven years for Rachel, “and they seemed to him but a few days because of his love for her.” (29:20) 

Then it’s the end of pastoral romance and back to familial shenanigans.  Laban substitutes older sister Leah, heavily-veiled, for Rachel at the wedding, and Jacob doesn’t realize it’s Leah until the next morning which is kind of hard to believe.  Laban and Jacob agree that Jacob can marry Rachel after the weeklong celebration for Leah, if he works another seven years.  What goes around has come around:  This time, Jacob is tricked by inability to see and the elder daughter wins out over the younger.  Poor Leah knows that Rachel is Jacob’s true love.  But Leah is rewarded with fertility, while Rachel is barren for a long time.  Yet we never see Jacob praying for Rachel to have a son, as Isaac tenderly prayed for Rebecca.  Before the dust settles, Leah has six sons and a daughter and two sons by lending her maid Zilpah to Jacob as a concubine; Rachel’s maid Bilhah, a similar loaner, has two sons; and Rachel finally has a son of her own, Joseph. 

Meanwhile, Jacob also has his hands full working for Laban.  Jacob wants to go home, but Laban has prospered greatly from Jacob’s excellent management of the livestock.  Jacob agrees to stay in return for obtaining all the speckled and spotted goats and dark-colored sheep in the flock.  Since these are few in number, Laban agrees.  Jacob, however, by some interesting crossbreeding techniques, becomes very successful and rich, triggering the enmity of Laban and his sons.  Now he and his family are ready to leave.  Rachel steals Laban’s household idols (To protect her father? Or for herself?).  Laban comes after them, supposedly hurt they had just stolen away, then claiming they’d taken his idols.  Jacob declares whoever has stolen them will not remain alive, an unfortunate bit of foreshadowing.  Laban goes through the whole caravan but doesn’t find them. Rachel is sitting on them and claims she can’t get up because it’s “that time of the month,” successfully deceiving her father by “playing the woman card.”

After an angry rant against Laban that should cheer the hearts of all those who have suffered under bad bosses, Jacob and Laban declare a truce.  Jacob and his family finally leave Paddan-Aram to go back to Isaac.  Jacob has matured over the past twenty years.  He can take care of the material needs of his family.  He can behave diplomatically, as we’ll see next week.  But he still doesn’t really understand how to be a loving husband and father.  

Shabbat shalom,


Thought -Provoking, Sometimes Funny Ladder Quotes –
Will and Guy’s Top Ten Favourites 

  1. A poet is a man who puts up a ladder to a star and climbs it while playing a violin. – Edmond de Goncourt
  2. As we ascend the social ladder, viciousness wears a thicker mask. – Erich Fromm
  3. Hollywood is a place where a man can get stabbed in the back while climbing a ladder. – William Faulkner
  4. It is a paradox that every dictator has climbed to power on the ladder of free speech. Immediately on attaining power each dictator has suppressed all free speech except his own. – Herbert Hoover
  5. Management is efficiency in climbing the ladder of success; leadership determines whether the ladder is leaning against the right wall. – Stephen Covey
  6. She’s the kind of girl who climbed the ladder of success wrong by wrong. – Mae West
  7. Some people are at the top of the ladder, some are in the middle, still more are at the bottom, and a whole lot more don’t even know there is a ladder. – Robert H. Schuller. I like this one comments Will
  8. The biggest challenge in New Orleans has been to find workers who can climb a ladder after lunch. – Harry Anderson
  9. The ladder of success is best climbed by stepping on the rungs of opportunity. – Ayn Rand
  10. You cannot climb the ladder of success dressed in the costume of failure. – Zig Ziglar

Top 25 List of Best Pregnancy Jokes Ever (selected)
By CorCellNovember 12, 201

Should I have a baby after 35?
No, 35 children are quite enough.

How is being pregnant is like being a child again?
There’s always someone telling you what to do.

What is the most common pregnancy craving?
For men to be the ones who get pregnant.

What would be different if men got pregnant?
Maternity leave would last for two years with full pay and morning sickness would rank as the nation’s #1 health problem.

The more pregnant I get, the more often strangers smile at me. Why?
Because you’re fatter than they are.

What’s the oddest stage of pregnancy?
When people aren’t sure whether to congratulate you or buy you a gym membership.

How long is the average woman in labor?
Whatever she says, divided by two.

A husband asks: Is there any reason I have to be in the delivery room while my wife is in labor?
Not unless the word “alimony” means anything to you.

How many days are there in a month?
Each month has an average of 30-31 days, except the last month of pregnancy, which has 1453.

How is a pregnant woman like a toddler?
She outgrows her clothes every freakin’ week.

My childbirth instructor says it’s not pain I’ll feel during labor, but pressure. Is she right?
Yes, in the same way that a tornado might be called an air current.

What are the terrible twos?
Your breasts after your baby stops nursing cold turkey.

I’m 7 months pregnant and all day long I hear a constant barrage of “You are SO BIG!” from people. What should I say?
“Thanks! So are you!”

And when they ask: “How much weight have you gained?”
“Enough to make your life pretty miserable when I sit on you.”

My wife’s pregnant and my doctor asked me if I had ever been present at a childbirth before.
I replied, “Yes, just once.” The doctor asked, “What was it like?” I said, “It was dark, then suddenly very light.”

What do you do when your daughter’s pregnant and says she hasn’t slept with a man?
Start a religion.






One out of Every Ten

A couple, both rednecks, had 9 children. They went to the doctor to
see about getting the husband “fixed”.
The doctor asked them why, after 9 children, would they choose to do
The husband replied that they had read a recent article that 1 out of
every 10 children being born in North America was Mexican and they
didn’t want a Mexican baby because neither of them could speak Spanish.


New Dog Cross Breeds

  1. Collie + Lhasa Apso – Collapso, a dog that folds up for easy transport
  2. Pointer + Setter – Pointsetter, a traditional Christmas pet
  3. Great Pyrenees + Dachshund – Pyradachs, a puzzling breed
  4. Pekingese + Lhasa Apso – Peekasso, an abstract dog
  5. Newfoundland + Basset Hound – Newfound Asset Hound, a dog for financial advisors
  6. Terrier + Bulldog -Terribull, a dog that makes awful mistakes
  7. Bloodhound + Labrador – Blabador, a dog that barks incessantly
  8. Malamute + Pointer – Moot Point, owned by…. oh, well, it doesn’t matter anyway
  9. Collie + Malamute – Commute, a dog that travels to work
  10. Deerhound + Terrier – Derriere, a dog that’s true to the end
  11. Bull Terrier + Shitzu – Oh, never mind….
  12. Retriever + Irish Setter – Resetter, a dog that can set your VCR for you


Raise Joke

Sam walks into his boss’s office. “Sir, I’ll be straight with you, I know the economy isn’t great, but I have over three companies after me, and I would like to respectfully ask for a raise.” After a few minutes of haggling the boss finally agrees to a 5% raise, and Sam happily gets up to leave. “By the way”, asks the boss as Sam is getting up, “which three companies are after you?” “The electric company, water company, and phone company”, Sam replied.

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