Torah Portion

Vayetzei

ויצא

Genesis 28:10-32:3
Hosea 12:13–14:10
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Rachel Weeps in Ramah: Of All the Patriarchs, God Listens Only to Her

Rachel Weeps in Ramah: Of All the Patriarchs, God Listens Only to Her

Rachel weeps over her exiled descendants and God hears her plea (Jer 31:14–16). Expanding on this passage, the rabbis in Midrash Eichah Rabbah envision Jeremiah awakening the patriarchs and Moses to plead with God to have mercy on Israel. Upon their failure to move God, the matriarch Rachel intervenes successfully.

Prof.
Hagith Sivan
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What Are Clay Female Figurines Doing in Judah during the Biblical Period?

What Are Clay Female Figurines Doing in Judah during the Biblical Period?

A look at the archaeological and biblical context for the hundreds of Judean Pillar Figurines found ubiquitously throughout Judahite homes in the Iron Age II.

Dr.
Aaron Greener
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Did Jacob Meet Yhwh by the Stairway to Heaven in Beth-El?

Did Jacob Meet Yhwh by the Stairway to Heaven in Beth-El?

On his way to Haran, Jacob stops at a place, later named Beth-El, and sees in a dream angels going up and down a staircase to the gateway of heaven. In the story, Jacob also notices Yhwh standing beside him and  and Yhwh speaks to him.  Examined closely, this short story is beset with literary difficulties that suggest it is composed of two independent narratives.   

Prof.
Baruch J. Schwartz
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Shakespeare Plays on the Questionable Source of Jacob's Wealth

Shakespeare Plays on the Questionable Source of Jacob's Wealth

The Torah offers two explanations for how Jacob obtained great wealth at his father-in-law’s expense. Quite surprisingly, Shakespeare picked up on this narrative tension and made use of it to create the (in)famous biblically based dialogue between Shylock and Antonio in The Merchant of Venice.

Prof. Rabbi
Herbert Basser
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How the Israelite Family Was Put Together: The Twelve Sons of Jacob

How the Israelite Family Was Put Together: The Twelve Sons of Jacob

The older Northern version of the Jacob story was heavily supplemented by later Southern authors, yielding more sons of Jacob, new explanations of their names, and a much more fecund Leah.

Dr.
Tzemah Yoreh
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What's in a Name? The Bible vs. the Middle Ages

What's in a Name? The Bible vs. the Middle Ages

Naming practices in the biblical and ancient Near Eastern cultures differed significantly from those of medieval Jews in Fatimid Egypt (7th-12th cent. CE) as evidenced by the genizah findings. Examining these names presents us with important historical and anthropological data.[1]

Prof.
Elinoar Baden
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A Parasha Pregnant with the Past, Present, and Future of Israel's Protagonists

A Parasha Pregnant with the Past, Present, and Future of Israel's Protagonists

Three distinct themes in Parashat Vayetzei are intertwined: Jacob’s encounter with God at Bethel, the birth of Jacob’s sons, and Jacob’s departure from Haran. 

Prof.
Zvi Ben-Dor Benite
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How Is It Possible that Jacob Mistakes Leah for Rachel?

How Is It Possible that Jacob Mistakes Leah for Rachel?

“When morning came, there was Leah!” (Genesis 29:25). Could Jacob not tell the difference between his beloved of seven years and her sister, for a whole night? Commentators have long tried to make sense of the story by adding extra details, but perhaps we need to rethink the nature of Jacob and Rachel’s relationship during those years.

Dr. Rabbi
Zev Farber
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Genesis

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