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

This week: Karma, rags to riches, encounters with angels and God, another match made at a well, identity theft, kids and more kids, and Biblical genetic engineering.  Romance and machinations.

From the Merriam-Webster dictionary:

Definition of karma

1 often capitalized the force generated by a person’s actions held in Hinduism and Buddhism to perpetuate transmigration and in its ethical consequences to determine the nature of the person’s next existence

Each individual is born with karma, the residual from past lives that must be resolved …— Diane Goldner

broadly such a force considered as affecting the events of one’s life

Claude says, “You reap what you sow.” I call this idea karma, that what goes around comes around.— Anthony Walton

The deception of Isaac by Rebecca and Jacob gets Jacob the blessing, but it also means he has to flee Esau’s wrath and lose Rebecca’s protection.  And he isn’t going to be away for a few days, as Rebecca says, but over 20 years. And he reaps in Haran what he had sown in Canaan.

The stories of the Biblical patriarchs often include parallels, sometimes outright repetitions, like passing one’s wife off as one’s sister, disputes over water rights, going to Haran for a wife, matches identified through kindness at a well, and encounters with God and angels.  There are unique experiences as well, such as Abraham’s arguing with God at Sodom, Isaac’s near sacrifice, and Jacob’s dream.

On the way to Haran, with only a rock for a pillow, Jacob dreams of a ladder with angels going up and down it (changing shifts, according to Rashi) and learns of his and his descendants’ destiny.  When he awakes, awed, he anoints the rock with oil and names it Beth El, “House of God.”

Now mirror images appear, sometimes as karma, sometimes just irony. Abraham’s servant arrived in Haran with a caravan of 10 camels laden with gifts.  Jacob is alone, on foot, and essentially penniless. He is alone, on foot, with few possessions.  Rebecca was the one who gave water to the servant and his camels, and here Jacob waters the sheep for his lovely cousin Rachel (also showing off by rolling over the huge stone covering the well).  Rebecca’s brother Laban does not deceive Abraham’s servant, but does trick Jacob. More than once.  Most significantly, after working 7 years for his beloved Rachel, on the wedding night, older sister Leah is substituted for Rachel by Laban. This deceit in darkness echoes the deception of blind Isaac.  What goes around, comes around indeed.  But Jacob loves Rachel as Isaac loved Rebecca and so agrees to marry her in exchange for working for Laban 7 more years.  And they stay for 6 years beyond that.

The ensuing baby competition between Leah and Rachel has its comic aspects, like when Rachel trades a night with Jacob for some of Leah’s mandrakes, but it’s also the origin story for the Children of Israel.  Leah starts off, having 4 sons. Rachel’s complaint to Jacob is cut short (unlike Isaac’s sweet prayers on behalf of Rebecca), and she offers him her servant Bilhah as a surrogate.  Bilhah has two sons.  Leah, not to be out done, gives Jacob her servant Zilpah, who has two sons with Jacob. Leah has two more and, by the way, a daughter.  Finally, Rachel has a son, Joseph.

Jacob now wants to leave Haran. Laban, however, recognizes how much he has profited by Jacob’s skill with the livestock. He agrees to give Jacob all the speckled goats and dark sheep as pay and then stealthily removes all those animals from the flocks.  Jacob does not protest but uses his skills in animal husbandry (Biblical genetic engineering) to breed his own speckled goats and dark sheep.

Though he’d started with nothing, Jacob is now wealthy, like his father and grandfather. This rankles Laban and his sons.  Jacob has a dream in which the Lord tells him to go home (good timing), and Rachel and Leah agree it’s best for their family.  They try to slip away quietly, but Laban comes after them, claiming he is only interested in his daughters’ welfare. And, anyway, someone has stolen his household idols. After a fruitless search for the idols (Rachel had stolen and hidden the successfully, but Jacob doesn’t know that),  Jacob finally gives Laban a dressing-down the way every dumped-on employee would like to tell off a bad boss.  They then make a truce, and Jacob and his family head toward Canaan. 

Shabbat shalom,


tph Crabby Road bad boss


Quotes about Karma

Karma is karma. Karma is in life. You do the wrong things, you get the wrong things out of it. Antonio Brown

I try to live with the idea that karma is a very real thing. So I put out what I want to get back. Megan Fox

There’s a natural law of karma that vindictive people, who go out of their way to hurt others, will end up broke and alone. Sylvester Stallone

My mother believed in curses, karma, good luck, bad luck, feng shui. Her amorphous set of beliefs showed me you can pick and choose the qualities of your philosophy, based on what works for you. Amy Tan

On one hand, we know that everything happens for a reason, and there are no mistakes or coincidences. On the other hand, we learn that we can never give up, knowing that with the right tools and energy, we can reverse any decree or karma. So, which is it? Let the Light decide, or never give up? The answer is: both. Yehuda Berg

tph jacobsladder


A marine biologist developed a race of genetically engineered dolphins that could live forever if they were fed a steady diet of seagulls. One day his supply of the birds ran out, so he had to go out and trap some more. On the way back, he spied two lions asleep on the road. Afraid to wake them, he gingerly stepped over them.
Immediately, he was arrested and charged with transporting gulls across sedate lions for immortal porpoises.


How to tell if You are a MoM (Mother of Many)

You Know you are a MoM when:

1.You know where the bathroom is in any major store you visit.
4. You do most of your thinking and praying in the bathroom.
11. You have at least three witty replies to “Are they all yours?”
12. You just really wish people would not think they were clever for saying, “Don’t you know what causes that?”
21. Taking the kids grocery shopping with you makes you feel like a mother duck.
46. You can quote entire pages from Dr. Seuss without having to pause to think about it, and can sing any number of Raffi or Disney songs from memory.
50. When the first two kids move out, you can’t believe how much smaller your family feels.


Jokes about Polygamy

Do polygamists get a group rate in divorce court? by Ham on Wry

Some guys refer to their wife as “their better half.” What if you’re a polygamist? “Here’s Joan, my better sixth?”  by JimMcCue

Doesn’t make sense that most women are against polygamy. Every little girl had at least ten Barbies and just one Ken. by DianneGallagher


What Does Love Mean? See How 4-8 Year-Old Kids Describe Love (selections)

–by Ladan Lashkari, Dec 29, 2010

“When my grandmother got arthritis, she couldn’t bend over and paint her toenails anymore. So my grandfather does it for her all the time, even when his hands got arthritis too. That’s love.”

Rebecca – age 8


“Love is what makes you smile when you’re tired.”

Terri – age 4


“Love is when my mommy makes coffee for my daddy and she takes a sip before giving it to him, to make sure the taste is OK.”

Danny – age 7


“Love is when you kiss all the time. Then when you get tired of kissing, you still want to be together and you talk more. My Mommy and Daddy are like that. They look gross when they kiss.”

Emily – age 8


“Love is what’s in the room with you at Christmas if you stop opening presents and listen.”

Bobby – age 7 (Wow!)


“If you want to learn to love better, you should start with a friend who you hate.”

Nikka – age 6 (we need a few million more Nikka’s on this planet)


“Love is like a little old woman and a little old man who are still friends even after they know each other so well.”

Tommy – age 6


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