To reach someone else, usually you have to reach out of yourself.
Jacob sends peace ambassadors to his brother Esau. They report that Esau is on a war march, four hundred warriors strong. Jacob girds for battle, devotes in prayer, and bestows gifts upon Esau. Wrestling with an angel leaves Jacob limping and with a new name: Israel. Jacob – or Israel – and his brother Esau reconcile. Innocence is violated by evil. Two tribes, Simeon and Levi, uproot the evil in its entirety. Rachel gives birth to the youngest of the 12 tribes. Soon thereafter, Rachel passes away on the road near Bethlehem. Jacob returns to Hebron. His father Isaac ascends this physical world at the age of 180. Esau’s progeny and the kings of Edom conclude the narrative.
What is true, eternal love? In this week’s Torah Portion, Vayishlach, we read the story of Rachel’s sad death in childbirth, giving her life for her newborn child. This personifies her historical role as the quintessential mother who would sacrifice herself for her children, throughout the ages, until the end of time.Read More
Our own moments of transcendence seem fleeting and inconsequential in comparison with Jacob’s decades of tranquil perfection in the Holy Land; our own struggles seem wan and inept when measured against Jacob’s Charan years; our own lives under circumstances of subjugation and oppression seem black indeed when set against Jacob’s Egyptian period. Yet the three lives of Jacob are “signposts” that guide, inspire and enable our own.Read More