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On his way to Lavan, Jacob encamps overnight anddreams of angels ascending and descending a ladder. G-d promises the Land of Israel to his children and in return, Jacob promises G-d 10% of all his possessions.
Jacob meets his cousin Rachel at the Well of Haran and helps water his uncle’s flock. He is brought to his Uncle Lavan’s house with great fanfare, but after 30 days grace, Lavan offers him work.
In lieu of wages, Jacob agrees to work seven years for Lavan’s younger daughter Rachel. Lavan tricks Jacob into marrying the elder daughter, Leah, apparently the local custom. Jacob works another seven years for Rachel. With his handmaids Zilpah and Bilha, Jacob has eleven sons and a daughter, whose names are listed here. The events leading up to the specific births of Leah’s fifth and sixth sons and her daughter Dina are given here. Rachel gives birth to Joseph.
Jacob now wants to leave Lavan and enters into negotiations with him. Jacob remains another seven years in return for all the speckled and spotted sheep and goats. Through a clever device, Jacob manipulates the flock to yield high ratios of speckled animals.
Jacob waits for Lavan to leave to sheer his sheep and then flees. Angered by the loss of his terafim (idols), Lavan chases after Jacob. Rachel had actually taken the house idols and ingeniously hid them. Jacob is rebuked by Lavan for his “underhanded” ways. Lavan and Jacob make a peace treaty consummated by a meal and promi-ses of good will.
MAFTIR Genesis 32:1-3 ~ page 117
HAFTORAH Hoshea 12:13-14; 10 ~ pages 118-121
Assyria threatens to invade the Northern Kingdom and Hosea pleads with the people to return to G-d. In his opening words – “and Jacob fled into the field of Aram and Israel served for a wife” – he reminds them how, from the very beginning, G-d has been their Redeemer, guiding Jacob in his hour of distress and delivering their ancestors from Egyptian slavery. The power of Ephraim (the Northern Kingdom) had once been great but Baal worship had proved its downfall and the invaders would destroy its people. Yet even at this late hour, true repentance and renunciation of idolatry and alliances with idol worshipping nations would secure G-d’s love and mercy.
Parashah Study Questions
- The Rabbis explain that Jacob cried when he met Rachel because he prophetically saw that they would have marital issues and wouldn’t be buried together (v. 29:11). Why did he still marry her?
- Rashi comments that Leah’s eyes were tender because she continuously cried with anxiety over her up-coming marriage to Esav (v. 29:17). How did she know anything about Esav who lived so far away? Did she follow him on FACEBOOK and TWITTER?
- What did Rachel find enviable about Leah (alsothe source of her fertility) (v. 30:1)?
- The Rabbis explain that G-d forbade Lavan to speak to Jacob “either of good or of bad” because the “good” that comes from wicked people is not a blessing (v. 31:24). Then, why do we read Ma Tovu every day in the siddur – the words spoken by the evil Bilaam?!
- In v. 31:41, we find two Aramaic words, “Yagar Sahaduta” (wall of testimony). Why was the name rendered in a foreign language? Do we have any other examples of this?