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

Comments from 2013

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 prays 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 infertility 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.

Shabbat shalom,



























Boss Jokes

“Can I Get A Raise?”

I asked the boss if I could get a raise, and he said, “Because of the fluctuational predisposition of your position’s productive capacity as juxtaposed to the industry standards, it would be monetarily injudicious to advocate an increment.”

I said, “I don’t get it.”

He said, “That’s right.”

“The Interview”

A young job applicant was being interviewed for an entry level position.

His prospective boss asked, “Are you a smoker?”

“Not even a little,” said the young man.

“How about alcoholic beverages?”

“Never touch ‘em,” he replied.

The boss smiled and asked, “So you spend a lot of time with girls?”

The applicant said “No, not really.”

“So you don’t have any vices?”

“Well, I do have one,” he admitted.

“And what would that be?” the boss asked.

“I tell lies.”


Sent out in 2015

Wedding Photo Tips for Bigamists
MAY 3, 2010

  1. When marrying an additional wife, consider not having pictures taken at the ceremony.  This can be expensive, and in your case, incriminating.
  2. If you must have pictures taken, they should be displayed in a simple but tasteful frame, not, for example, in the newspaper.
  3. If you insist on submitting your wedding photo to a newspaper, it should not be your local newspaper, at least if your other wife reads the newspaper.

Bigamists, following these three simple rules will spare you and the two or more women you love a great deal of awkwardness and embarrassment.  They may also help you avoid a conviction, although probably you will do something almost as stupid anyway. At the very least, please observe Rule #3. Learn from the example of this Australian bigamist, who forged divorce papers in order to marry a second wife in 2008, and then submitted his wedding photo to his local newspaper.

This did not sit well with Wife #1, who saw the photo and called police.

Triklis, who pleaded guilty last week, was fined $1,800 and sentenced to six months (suspended), which frankly seems a little light for bigamy, forgery and perjury. I can think of at least two people who would agree with me on that.


42 Signs You Have a Big Family

You can play a game of baseball, soccer or football whenever you want, and you don’t even need to invite over any of the neighbors.

By Jenny Evans, Contributor Mother of 6, blogger at
03/31/2015 01:52pm ET | Updated December 6, 2017

There’s nothing like life in a large family. Everything is bigger and more when you’ve got a gaggle of kids living under one roof: the messes, the love, the noise, the stares from strangers.
How many kids does it take to make a “big” family? It depends on who you ask (the answer is usually one or two more than they have), but you know you have a big family when…

1.You read the fine print on “kids eat free” offers.
7.No matter how many times you tell people, they can never remember the names of all of your children. Even your friends aren’t sure how many kids you have.
13.You’re unable to cook for any group smaller than an army platoon.
14.Not only have you tripled a recipe before — you do it routinely.
20.You’ve never left the house without hearing “You’ve got your hands full,” 12 times, even when only half your kids are with you.
21.You don’t think it’s odd to go to the grocery store and buy seven gallons of milk at one time.
24.From the stares in the parking lot, it’s abundantly clear that your vehicle looks like a clown car when your entire family piles out.
29.It’s hard to name your babies, because no matter what name you like, someone in your extended family has already taken it.
33.When you go somewhere with another family, people assume it’s a school field trip or a Boy Scout troop
37.Your oldest child is sometimes mistaken for your youngest child’s parent.
40.Getting a family picture where everyone looks good isn’t even a possibility. You’re happy with a photo where only one person is crying, making a weird face or picking their nose.
42.You for sure have a big family if you’ve ever arrived somewhere and realized that at least one person isn’t wearing shoes.

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