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Parashat Va-yeitzei – November 9, 2103

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Candle lighting time for Friday, November 8, 2013, 4:46 p.m.

Parashat Va-yeitzei

6 Kislev, 5774 / November 9, 2013
Triennial Cycle Year I:  
Genesis 28:10-30:13
Humash Etz Hayim,  page 166
Haftarah: Hosea 12:13-14:10, page 188

  1. (28:10-22) Jacob flees Esau to Haran. He dreams of a ladder between heaven and earth with angels going up and down. Jacob names the place Bethel, ”House of God.”
  2. (29:1-30) Jacob meets Rachel. Jacob agrees to work for Laban, her father, for 7 years in exchange for marrying her, but Laban tricks him into marrying her sister, Leah. Jacob is forced to work another seven years for Rachel.
  3. (29:31-35) Leah gives birth to 4  sons — Reuben, Simon, Levi and Judah — but Rachel is barren.
  4. (30:1-13) Rachel gives Jacob her maid Bilhah, who bears him two sons—Dan and Naphtali—whom Rachel adopts as her own. Leah does the same with her maid Zilpah, who bears Gad and Asher.


The Agony and the Ecstasy of Self-Knowledge
By Rabbi Pressman

He had a dream; a stairway was set on the ground and its top reached to the sky, and angels of God were going up and down on it. And the LORD was standing beside him and He said, “I am the LORD, the God of your father Abraham and the God of Isaac: the ground on which you are lying I will assign to you and to your offspring.(Gen. 28:12-13)

R. Hiyya the Elder and R. Yannai disagreed. One maintained: They [the angels] were ascending and descending on the ladder; while the other said: they were ascending and descending on Jacob. The first view is clear. But that they were ascending and descending on Jacob must mean that some were exalting him and others chiding him, dancing, leaping, and maligning him. (Midrash Genesis Rabbah 68:18)

In this midrash, some of the angels recognize Jacob’s potential, and praise him for his Divine election, while other angels mock Jacob, and see him as nothing more than a schemer forced into exile from his family. Considering this narrative in context, Aviva Zornberg argues in Genesis: The Beginning of Desire that once Jacob pretended to be his brother Esau in order to steal the birthright and the blessing, “good and evil are intermingled in him,” and that Jacob “will be forever involved with the ambiguities of the world of seeming,” forever grappling with his childhood deception. As a result, when the angels in Jacob’s dream vacillate between support and derision, they are challenging Jacob in order to see whether he will fulfill God’s covenant or be nothing more than a schemer. (Rabbi Joshua Rabin)

Jacob awoke from his sleep and said, “Surely the LORD is present in this place, and I did not know it!” (Gen. 28:16)

This reaction of amazement is unprecedented in the patriarchal stories. Neither Abraham nor Isaac exhibit any surprise at their initial experience of God’s sudden self-revelation. Jacob’s exceptional emotional response…undoubtedly…lies, at least partially, in his realization of the baseness of his behavior toward his father and brother. He must have been beset with feelings of complete and deserved abandonment by God and man. Having fallen prey to guilt and solitary despair, he is surprised that god is still concerned for him. (Nahum Sarna, The JPS Torah Commentary)

 Knowing now that he did not know, Jacob begins to know. The Zohar reads his waking speech—va-anokhi lo yadati—“I—I did not know,” as referring to his own selfhood: “I have not known my anokhi—my self.” The emphatic I the subject of his insight, also becomes the object. As object of reflection, anokhi, a new awareness of self, generates a profound sense of past ignorance. Jacob is able to surrender to the mystery of his own mind, to lose himself in an immediate experience: this in itself constitutes his new aware­ness. For the first time, he knows that he has never known himself, never integrated the fragmented perspectives that so agitate the angels. (Aviva Zornberg, Genesis: The Beginning of Desire)


Mitzvah a Month

Embrace -A-Family

KOL Foods South Bay Thanksgiving buying Club – Order by November 12th for reduced shipping rates

Hadashot Religious School

Hanukkah Candles are Here

Minyan – Sunday 9:30 am & Monday – Thursday 7:00 p.m.


Saturday, November 9: Ruah Rally – Noon – 12:15p.m.

Saturday, November 9: Book Discussion Group: Hitlerland – 1:30 – 3:00 p.m.

Sunday, November 10: Trajectories on Divergent Paths: The Development of Rabbinic Judaism and Classical Christianity – 10:30 a.m. – 12:30 p.m.

Sunday, November 10: Z’Havah Women and Sisterhood Wine Tasting Tour – 3:00 p.m.

Saturday, November 16: Mussar Matters: Building Character and Self-Mastery Through Jewish Texts – after lunch, approximately 1:30 p.m.

Sunday, November 17: Miracle Mash Up! – 9:30 a.m. – 12:30 p.m.

Sunday, November 17: Sigd: Beta Israel Festival from Ethiopia The and Now – 10:00 – 11:00 a.m.

Sunday, November 17: Men’s Club Family Friendly Hike and Picnic – 1:00 p.m.

Sunday, November 17: Hazak Presents – Jews Were Gold Rush 49ers Too! – 7:00 – 9:00 p.m.

Tuesday, November 19: Conversations in Jewish Learning: My Father’s Gardens – 7:00 p.m.

Thursday, November 21: Men’s Club Poker Night/Potluck – 6:00 – 9:00 p.m.

Friday, November 22: The Association of Fundraising Professionals of Silicon Valley Honors Alan Werba – 11:00 a.m.

Sunday, November 24: Men’ Club General Meeting – 11:00am

Sunday, December 1: CBD Jewish Families Group Hanukkah Party – 4:00 p.m.

Wednesday, December 4: Santana Row Community Hanukkah Celebration – 4:00 – 6:30 p.m.

Friday & Saturday, December 6 & 7: Sam Glaser is Spending Shabbat with US!

Saturday, December 7: Sam Glaser in Concert at Kol Emeth – 7:00 – 10:00 p.m.

Sunday, December 8: Men’s Club Bocce Night – 6:00 p.m.


November 12 & 13: AJWS Presents: In Her Own Voice