Monday, November 23, 2009


And so the drama continues - and our ancestors continue to act in ways that challenge us to see them as models upon which we will structure our behavior.

There are a number of interesting commentaries you can access at My Jewish Learning.  I particularly enjoyed this one - I Have a Dream, by Rabbi Ed Rosenthal.  And yes, the use of Martin Luther King's words is an intentional part of the essay.

Rabbi Melissa Crespy writes about the complicated family dynamics evident in this parasha and suggests they can help us better understand our lives today.

There are, however, a few questions that occurred to me and to which I wasn't able to find answers in the commentaries I examined.  Perhaps you can help figure out some answers:

  1. In 28:11 Jacob is described as taking stones to rest his head on.  Sorry - but couldn't he find something more comfortable to put under his head?
  2. Is there a relationship or comparison between the tower in Bavel and the ladder in this parasha?
  3. Why does the text identify Avraham as Yaakov's father rather than Yitzhak?
  4. In 28:14 the Hebrew reads:  Yesh Adonai bamakom hazeh.  What is the reason for the word "yesh?"  The translations seem to be uniform as saying "God was in this place",  but you don't ned the word "yesh" if that is the translation.  It seems to me that a better translation would be "There is God (or perhaps 'godliness') in this place.  Does that change the meaning for you?
  5. Verse 28:22 has Yaakov making a deal with God - if...then...  What can it mean that Yaakov promises to accept God if God provides certain material necessities?  Is there a rationale that states we only accept God if God provides for and protects us?
  6. Verse 31:53 - The English translation reads,  "... the God of Avraham and the god of Nahor..."  But Hebrew doesn't use capital letters, and the phrase in Hebrew uses the identical term for both "gods".  What's that about?  Does the god of Nahor exist alongside the God of Avraham as an equal in this text?
Perhaps you have answers to these questions - they certainly suggest rich discussions you can have.  Perhaps you can share your answers with the rest of us.

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