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This Week's The Torah Portion: "Vayetze"


 Jacob escapes his brother's vengeful wrath by fleeing to the "Old Country", Mesopotamia. On his way, he dreams of a ladder set on the earth whose top reaches to heaven, while angels ascend and descend on it. In the dream, G-d reassures him: "Jacob...I will not forsake you; I will bring you back to your homeland, the land of Canaan... Your descendants, in fact, will one day live in this land..."
Jacob arrives in Mesopotamia, and meets a young woman named Rachel. They fall in love. But to earn the right to marry her, Jacob must work for Rachel's father seven years. Following seven years of arduous labor, Rachel's father tricks Jacob by placing the bridal veil over the face of Rachel's older sister on their wedding night. And thus, Jacob marries the wrong woman! (Since that day, Jewish tradition insists that the groom himself place the veil over the bride's face!)

Jacob must now work an additional seven years for Rachel. And so, the tables are now turned: It was Jacob, after all, who years earlier had "veiled" his own identity from his father in order to steal the blessing reserved for his older twin. Now, he himself is deceived by means of similar trickery!

Jacob begets 12 children in Mesopotamia: Reuben, Simeon, Levi, Judah (father of the Judeans, the Jewish tribe), Dan, Naftali, Gad, Asher, Issachar, Zebulun, Joseph, and Dinah. He continues to work for his father-in-law, prospering greatly. But after 22 years of hiding, Jacob can no longer live in the shadows. He must return to Canaan, and make peace with his older twin Esau, come what may!

Shabbat Shalom!

Rabbi Alvin Wainhaus

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