Torah Study Notes 11-9-13

November 9, 2013

p. 195

28:10 Jacobs Ladder – there has been considerable discussion about the translation of the Hebrew word for ladder. Clearly a conveyance for going up and down. But there are two Hebrew words – including one for “staircase.”  Why a stone for a pillow? It takes on greater significance as the story moves forward. Note also the generality of the language as to place – it is indeterminate. Note also the comparison of the descendants to dust – rather than stars. There are radically different images. Dust generally has a negative connotation. “…from dust to dust…” SF: What did Jacob do to deserve this blessing from God? PG: But what did Abraham do? Jacob was chosen before he was born.

28:16   “Then Jacob awoke from his sleep and said, “Surely the Lord is in this place, and I did not know it.” 17 And he was afraid and said, “How awesome is this place! This is none other than the house of God, and this is the gate of heaven.”” LL: By “this place” is Jacob referring to the place where he fell asleep – that he now sees with new eyes? Or has he been transported to God’s house and gates? What is the “this” being referred to? LL: I would prefer to think that he is seeing the beauty of the place where he fell asleep with new eyes.  Is “the Gate of Heaven” his dream? An ecstatic state?  There is a great deal of ambiguity here which gives rise to much discussion and analysis. SF : We have a responsibility to bring God into our lives. Jacob assumed that God was back in Beersheba with his father. This teaches that God can be anywhere if the mind is open – in this case via a dream. Now we learn that God is everywhere where there is dust. DC: The “Gate of Heaven” – perhaps indicated by a gesture – could be Jacob himself. i.e. each of us carries God within us and our bodies and inds are the Gates of Heaven.

28:19  Jacob negotiates and lays out preconditions for tithing to God. Jacob is the first biblical figure that we encounter from childhood and therefore have a back- story for. AF: Did Jacob previously act immorally in the birthright story? Is this bargaining with God a continuation of his tendency to be devious? PG: Superficial reaction does not give a clear understanding. The issues here are ones of justice. Is there an overlap between justice and ethics? Are they always the same? Remember that there was a conflict between Isaac and Rebekah as to who should properly receive the blessing and birthright. Since Jacob was chosen by God it could be argued that his actions, prompted by his mother, were proper in that the divine will was carried out.

29:1 Jacob meets Rachel. He rolls off the heavy stone covering the well on his own – showing off. He is now a physical person who has become more like what his father admired in his brother Esau.


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