Vayetze

Vayetze

My father picked up two handsful of the Mediterranean. Placed them on his heart. Placed the blue
water on his heart. And walked towards my mother. He walked across Israel, 32 km to Kfar Saba to the
Teacher’s Institute, Bait Berel, just to invite her to own his royal purple. Such is love: irrational maybe to
everyone else outside of it. Father, the purest purist. The family called him Gadol. Not only because of
his greatness but because he enlarged everyone, everywhere, every time. He walked across the country
toward love as Yaakov Avinu towards Rachel.

In our sedre, Yaakov worked for fourteen years for Laban, for the hand of Rachel. And it seemed to
him, “in the blink of an eye.” The world didn’t matter. She did. The children born in that love, Yoseph
and Benyamin, were created in G-d’s realm. Yoseph – “addition” – was so named because he could only
enhance the eternal love established between Rachel and Yaakov. Two lonely children create Heaven.
On this journey to his mother’s birthplace, his first night’s vision. At the border of Canaan and diaspora,
Yaakov sleeps in the dust and wakes to find G-d standing on his head. The tail end of his brother Esau’s
head is now snapped and severed. The snake shed its skin and Yaakov becomes his own entity. In the
Divine Plan, Esau was also to have traveled to Laban and married Leah. The message was clear: do not
marry from the women of Canaan, but the women from the north, like Sarah, like Rebecca. (Esau, à la
Ishmael, marries an Egyptian.) Esau drove Yaakov out to stay in the Promised Land, to develop and
propagate it. But surprise – the narrative follows Yaakov into Galut. The higher passion takes the Torah
there. Yaakov wakes from the dream of the ladder and bargains with G-d. He knows he is taking the
onerous snake with him. Good and evil at once. The wood of the tree of knowledge, both sides of the
ladder. Angels scurrying up and down, meeting Heaven and earth. Yaakov’s wager is the voice of Esau: if
you sustain me, G-d, food and raiment, and bring me home to vanquish the hate I ran from, then you will
be my G-d. I will learn what Esau needed to learn.

In next week’s parsha, Yaakov will wrestle in the dust. He will win this time. What he lost in the struggle
in the womb to be born, he will now see the very face of G-d in the vanquish of his brother. This is the
knowledge of the righteous that can transform even evil in this world. It comes from deep love inside,
knowing love. Adam himself could have destroyed the serpent in the garden by the tree had he only had
the love that Yaakov Avinu had, and like father had. Shabbat Shalom.

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