Friday, December 01, 2006

Notes on the Parsha

From the "things that make you go hmm" department, consider these parralels and oppositions:

(1) Esav sold his birthright to his younger brother for lentils, while Rachel sold a night with Jacob to her older sister for the mandrake, also a plant;

(2) Jacob embarks on two plans of deception, both of them involve goats [And as Steg reminds us, Jacob is eventually tricked with athe blood of a goat]

(3) Yitzchak sends an agent to the well to aquire a wife, and the woman proves her worth by watering the camals. His son Jacob goes to the well himself, where he, himself, waters all of the sheep.

(4) With Jacob, everything is a bargain. He wrestles with words and conditions just as he is a physical wrestler. He carefully stipulated the conditions of sales to the famished Esav; he was leery of being discovered when Rebekka proposed he steal the blessings, and in Gen 28:20 he wants to be sure God fulfills his side of the bargain before he commits to God's service. Later, he's a sharp dealer with Lavan;

(5) Meanwhile Rachel describes herself as a "grappler," engaged in struggle with her own sibling. (Gen 30:7)

(6) Jacob works seven years for Leah, and gives her seven children.

(7) As Berashis Rabba pointed out first, Lavan deceives Yaakov, just as Yaakov deceived Yitzchak. Yaakov was deprived by the darkness of his sense of sight just as his father was by blindness. The point that the deception with brides is poetic justic for the deception with the blessings is driven home by Lavan who says "It is not done in OUR place to put the younger girl before the firstborn" referring to Leah, not as the "elder", but as the "bechirah." The sueggestion is that maybe in YOUR place the younger jumps ahead, but not here.

(8) As Mar Gavriel pointed out last year, Jacob has wonderful success breeding sheep (rechaylim in the language of the Torah) but very little success with his "Rachel."

(9) The first two barran women we meet in Genesis receive an annunciation of some kind. Sarah is visited by angels and Rivka visists an Oracle. The third barran women, Rachel, appeals to her husband instead, and he answers: "Am I in the place of God, who has kept you from having children?"

(10) Esav's first recorded words in the Torah are impetuous and child-like (Quick give me some of the red, red stew, or I'll die) Rachel's first recorded words have the same quality: "("Give me sons or I am a dead woman!")

(11) Rivka tells Yaakov to go to Lavan for a "few days". When Yaakov works for Rachel the time passes as if it was a "few days." The language is the same.

More later....

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