This week’s Torah portion is Vayetzei, “And he left.” Jacob leaves his ancestral home in a hurry, fleeing the rage and despair of his brother Esau. In last week’s portion, he tricked his twin Esau out of his birthright and their father’s blessing. In this portion, he will learn what it is like to be tricked out of something rightfully his.

Jacob’s uncle Laban is a tricky fellow, too, and Jacob will suffer at his hands in this portion. Readers often gloss over the degree to which the sisters who will become Jacob’s wives are complicit in Laban’s deception. Leah knew that Jacob expected to marry Rachel, but when her father substituted her for her sister under the wedding veils, she went along. Rachel said nothing either. Thus Jacob, who wore animal skins to deceive his father, was himself deceived in his wedding bed by the women he married!

A hagiography is a piece of writing that makes its subjects seem to be saints. Torah is often the opposite of a hagiography. The writer(s) tell us stories about the family of Abraham that most families would bury and never tell.

This week’s interpreters:

The Mouth of the Well by Rabbi Amy Scheinerman

Rachel and Leah Show Us a Thing or Two by Rabbi Sylvia Rothschild

Regarding a Ladder by Rabbi Jordan Parr

The Power of Persuasion by Rabbi Rafi Mollot

A Midshipman’s Torah: Dealing with Dishonesty by Rabbi Nina Mizrahi

As Only God Knows by Rabbi Marc Katz

Communication for Good or Bad by Miriam Jaffe

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