Dear Friends and Family,
This past week I have been filling in for my mother in her therapy sessions and went back to pre-school! It’s been a little fun to color again and see how many kids I can diagnose with ADD within 10 minutes. I have been also listening to Parshah while sitting on the floor Indian style and it bring me back to being a little kid. Ironically I still love learning the Parshah just not while sitting on the floor. Besides for the fact that I am now a little taller than my 5-6 year old self, I also get to look at the Parshah with an older view and they take on a different meaning.
Yaacov knows that he is destined to have the 12 tribes. After the brachos bebacle of last week, he runs away because Eisav wants to kill him. Yaacov goes to his mother’s brother, Lavan, house. Lavan has two daughter’s, Rochel (younger) and Leah (older). Yaacov right away realizes upon seeing Rochel that she is his soul mate and he falls in love with her. He negotiates with Lavan to work for him for 7 years to marry, Rochel, his younger daughter. Yaacov knows that Lavan will try and trick him into marrying Leah so he makes it very clear which daughter he is working for. In the end, Yaacov does get tricked and marries Leah. Yaacov and Rochel had made signs that only each other knew to prevent this from happening, but Rochel does not want her sister to get embarrassed and gives them over to Leah. Yaacov wakes up and realizes he married the wrong girl and goes to Lavan. They negotiate that Yaacov will marry Rochel after sheva brachos and then work another 7 years for Lavan. Yaacov marries Rochel.
The story is only just beginning…there is jealousy, rivalry, trickery, and conflict and there is humanity.
As I read through the exchanges, I saw glimpses of people. I saw sisters, fathers, husbands, wives and mothers. I saw women who knew that their mission was to be mothers of tribes of the nation of Israel. They were human beings who know that from them will come greatness and they will fight to merit it. The Torah shows a conversation between Rochel and her husband. Rochel comes to him and asks him why is he not praying for her to have children like his father Yitzchak prayed for Rivka. Yaacov gets angry and says “Am I instead of God, Who has withheld from you the fruit of the womb?” (30:2) Rashi explains that he was saying I am not in the position my father was in, I already have sons. Yaacov is also saying something deeper her: Rochel, this is between you and G-d. There is a spiritual blockage in your heart and it is not something my prayers will take away. You have to be the one to pray for yourself. Right after Rochel gives him her maidservant, Bilha, to be built up from her. She realizes that she must remove the spriritual blockage between her and G-d to merit children and the Bilha gets pregnant.
The entire Sefer Berashis is the story of the Jewish people. In is about conflicts and resolutions. It is about humanity. As I read through the Parshah, my mind was blown. We see our imahos (mothers) fighting with each other, we see their internal conflicts, their struggles, their reactions and emotions and we get to meet them. After Leah has her fourth son, she names him Yehuda, to thank G-d for the extra child she merited to have. Leah is the first person in the Torah to publicly give thanks. After this, Rashi explains that the Matriarchs were prophetesses, they knew that twelve tribes would emanate from Jacob, and that he would marry four wives. They knew that they were the ones who would have the tribes and were focused and went for their goal…does this sound like any Jewish mothers I know?
Have a beautiful and uplifting Shabbas!
Ps. Thank you Deeda for helping me out with this one!
Pps. Mazel Tov to my dear friend Esther Nueman on her engagement!