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The New Vision for Israel & Zion

Overview: Va’Yeẓe Ya’ạqov – And Jacob would exit

Part I – Jacob’s exit from Kena’ạn and the Stone of Bet-El.

The Promise to Build the House of God

Ya’ạqov and Yishmạ’el (& Mohammed)

Part II – Ya’ạqov in Ḥaran,
The Moving of the Stone off the Well

Meeting Raḥel by the Mouth of the Well

The Contention between Le’ah and Raḥel

The Case of the Mandrakes in the field

The Birth of Yoseph

Motherhood-Games and Leadership-Struggles in Israel

The Names of the Tribes and the Structure of their Covenant

The Negotiations of Ya’ạqov and Lavan

Part III The flight from Lavan’s House and Erection of Gal’ed in Gil’ad

The theft of the Traphim-Idolons

The Way of Women

The Third Stone

Ya’ạqov and the angels

Summary: the Rectification of Ya’ạqov, of Le’ah and Rahel, and for Israel

The Prophet’s Attitude to Ya’ạqov

Ya’ạqov-Yisra’el’s fulfillment of the first Commandment to Abraham

Ya’ạqov’s Fourth Stone

Appendices
(not included yet)

“A”: The Relationship of Ya’ạqov Le’ah and Raḥel according to the Eẓ Ḥayim.

“B”: The Tribes According to the Zoher:

1. The Zoher for vaYeẓe, about the Tribes.

2. The Zoher for vaYeẓe, chapter “When Raḥel bore Yoseph”.

3. The Zohar for Mishpatim, the Sava deMishpatim on the Children of Israel.

“C”: Ya’ạqov’s spiritual migrations between Le’ah and Rahel.

“D”: The Tribes and their significance for the future.

The 12 Tribes by their order in Jacob’s ladder and in the circle.

Overview

“Va’Yeẓe Ya’ạqov” (And Jacob went out): In this parashah[1] we shall follow Ya’ạqov-Jacob: what did he go out of, and what did he go out for, what did he follow (ạqav, connected with the name Ya’ạqov) and where did he arrive; how did the vision which he had when he left Kena’ạn towards Ḥaran come out (yaẓa), and how did there come out (yaẓ’ah) of the vision “the whole stature” (Qomah Shlemah) of Israel-Yisra’el, and how did Ya’ạqov finally exited (yaẓa) with a great fortune from his adventures in Ḥaran.

The whole historical-archetypal course described in the Book of Genesis is like a ladder – “Jacob’s Ladder” (Sulam Ya’ạqov) – that leads from Parashat Bereshit to Parashat va’Yeḥi (“He would live”). The Book of Genesis is composed of the tales of realistic living people who form this ladder, and in this process the book also deals with the basic instincts and emotions of the protagonists. Parashat va’Yeẓe , however, is loaded more than the other parashot with exteriorized emotions that are given outlet: a tale of love and of suffering, a tale that commences with brothers’ struggle and follows with sisters’ struggle, a tale of emotions that become realized through fertility and births, leading to the birth of twelve fraternal tribes. This multiplicity and mellowing of emotions is integral to the place of this parashah within the historical-archetypal course described in the Book of Genesis. In the course of his exiting, through his noting his movements between his two sister-wives, Ya’ạqov would become aware of his own special place in the ladder of the Tree of the Sefirot – the Sefirah of Tif’eret (Glory-Beauty-Compassion) – through which he would tie in the assembly – the Merkavah – of the patriarchs.

In this parashah, we also learn about the wrestling of the matriarchs, the Mothers of the nation of Israel, which are significant also for the formation of the future Israel in our times. In the narrative of this parashah, we also learn about the formation of eleven of the twelve brothers who would constitute Yisra’el-Israel, about the relationships of the mistress and the bondwoman as wives of the patriarchs of the nation, and about the end of “the hereditary barrenness” of the children of Abraham.

Moreover, in this parashah we learn about the birth of Joseph-Yoseph, the only son of the beloved wife, the beloved of his father, much as Ẹsav was the beloved of his father Yiẓḥaq. From this opens, in the next parashot and in their continuation in history since then, the way for the great Tiqqun (restitution) of Jacob-Ya’ạqov and Esau-Ẹsav through the acts of Joseph and his brothers.

Va’Yeẓe Ya’ạqov – And Jacob would exit

The exit of Ya’ạqov from Kena’ạn-Canaan prepares for the other exit, the final one, of the family of Abraham from Ḥaran. Only the exit-exodus of Ya’ạqov from Ḥaran, with his wives and children, completes the command to Abraham “Get thee out of thy country, and from thy kindred and from thy father’s house” (gen. 12:1).

Ya’ạqov’s exit from Ḥaran also fashions and prepares for the great exit of the Children of Israel, namely the Exodus from Egypt, “to the land that I shall show thee”. What was true for Ya’ạqov and his sons would become also true for the last of the mixed multitudes that join the Children of Israel on their exodus from Egypt and from “the desert of the nations”.

In the course of the parashah, Ya’ạqov exits twice in an escape, in hiding. In the beginning of the parashah, he exits his parents’ house in the Land of Kena’ạn, away from his brother who plotted to kill him; and in its end he escapes from Ḥaran, from the house of his uncle Lavan, and with him most of the property of Lavan: his herds, his daughters, his grandchildren, and even his gods.

In contrast with the servant, who exited one generation earlier for a betrothal visit at the family of Lavan, equipped with the most precious jewels and presents, Ya’ạqov – who had just been blessed with all the riches of the earth – arrived at Ḥaran without anything. His course would thus be far more difficult than that of the servant. He would have to buy his wife through hard labor, which would prepare him, in turn, to become “Yisra’el”, one who can “contend with gods and men”, facing them and not hiding. Indeed, the adventures that lie in store for him in his exits were destined to change his living, his character, and his outlook.

Even when Ya’ạqov did not exit – physically – from one place to another, he exited from his established manner: the spoiled brat, the tent dweller of his mother Rivqah, would become in the course of the parashah into a mighty man, a kind of Ẹsav incarnated in Ya’ạqov: he would roll with his own hand a stone that all the shepherds of Ḥaran were needed for removing it, he would do acts of magic in order to increase the number of spotted lambs in his herds, and mostly he would work as a dedicated laborer, day and night. The spoiled “dweller of tents” would willingly become a slave for twenty years, until there would grow of him a dependable and conscious man.

“Ya’ạqov” (יעקב) was a mean person who cheated and schemed (ạqav עקב, related to Ya’ạqov – the one who would scheme), as evidenced by the ignominious acts in his youth; or – in a different meaning of the word of his name – a simple man with no personal initiative, who followed (ạqav) because of (ẹqev) whatever happened around him. But it was Ya’ạqov whom the Bible credits with seeking – for the first time in the history of the House of Abraham – to build the House of God. His ambitions were celestial, but in his conduct, he was earthy, and often quite mean.

In the course of this Parashah, the simple boy became a tough adult. This is the story of the personal Tiqqun of Ya’ạqov, which is completed when he contended with the angel, held his own heroically, and gained a new name “Yisra’el”. Becoming Yisra’el entails personal valor, but also a universal vocation, which would be realized only through his sons. “Ya’ạqov” is a private person. “Yisra’el” is the Father of the Twelve Tribes, the one who realizes the divine plan of founding “a Chosen People” made of twelve tribes, an idea already inherent in the primordial scheme of Bereshit.

Ya’ạqov had an earthly family, Yisra’el – a divine family, which had to carry on its shoulders the mission of the Universal Man.

The saying va’Yetse (in the inverted future tense, as explained in the introduction) has to do with this future Israel-Yisra’el, through which the archetypal idea of Yisra’el would come out – yeẓe – from potential to actual, and eventually will issue – yiẓ’u – twelve sons to the family of Yiẓḥaq.

In summary: the whole course of Creation-Beri’ah is an exiting (the word Bri’ah has to do with exiting to the bar – to the outside). Parashat va’Yeẓe deals with the exit from the hidden Ọlam haBa (“The World to Come”, corresponding to the Worlds of Aẓilut and of Beri’ah, see chapter 1), and into Ọlam haZe (“This World”, corresponding to the Worlds of Yeẓirah and of Ạssiyah-Action), which is an observable and sensed, and even demonstrates this exit through an authentic and emotional human story.

Part 1 – Jacob’s exit from Kena’an, and the 1st Stone: Bet-El.

“And Ya’ạqov exited from Be’er Sheva”. Ya’ạqov exited for Haran with the blessing of his father and mother, and especially with the harsh encouragement of his brother Ẹsav.

If so, why would a scion to such a wealthy family arrive at Ḥaran with nothing?

In his commentary (for Gen. 29:11), Rashi supplies a reason why Ya’ạqov arrived to Ḥaran with no provisions: Ẹsav sent his son Eliphaz to kill Ya’ạqov, and the son robbed Ya’ạqov and left him in the state of “a poor man is as good as dead”. This Midrash is in the spirit of the story that we shall yet read about Joseph-Yoseph and his brothers. Ẹsav took measures, whether intentionally or not, that his younger brother would have to fight over his image and his status, to exile from his land in poverty and to succeed in the land of exile even more that Ẹsav would.

“And he went toward Ḥaran”.[2] The direction of Ya’ạqov’s journey was Northward, to the side connected in the Qabbalah with the quality of Din – harsh Judgment. We may note that the Hebrew word Ẓafon (North) is connected with the concept of Maẓpun – conscience (probably because the North, or polar, star gives a constant and safe direction for the journey, and conscience-Maẓpun allows navigation in the fuzzy world of social values). Ya’ạqov who exited Kena’ạn still lacked conscience, whereas the mature Ya’ạqov returned from Ḥaran with a developed conscience within him like an inner compass – Maẓpen.

“va’Yifga ba’Maqom – and he lighted upon a certain Place. The term Maqom for “Place” was mentioned already before, in the story of the Ạqedah: “and he went to the Maqom” (22:3), “and he saw the Maqom far away” (22:4). According to Rashi, the Blessed Holy One “is the Maqom-place of the World, and the World is not His Maqom-place” (his commentary to Exodus 33:21). The blessed and mind-expanding influence of the Infinite, which is normally enveloping but not sensed, appears as a Maqom, as a distinct locus, and receives through it a form. HaMaqom is any location where the divine power appears upon earth and manifests in remarkable forms. This is the Power, because of which Ya’ạqov who was awakening from his sleep, said, “how dreadful is this place” (28:17). Ya’ạqov went to sleep with certain doubts about himself and was very worried about what may befall him. The revelation of the Lord in his dream gave him complete trust in his future, but filled him with awe and dread; from his observation how immense is the divine world.

So, what was this Maqom-place in geographic terms? Could it have been the same Maqom toward which had Abraham been sent? According to the traditional commentators – the answer is definitely yes. The commentators were ready even to bend the earth for this purpose: “I say that Mount Moriah was pulled out and came here, and this is “the Land Jump” (Ramban’s commentary for parashat va’Yetse ch. 28). According to Rashi, who brings the version of Rabbi Eliẹzer who quoted Rabbi Yossei ben Zimra: “that ladder stands at Be’er Sheva (from whence Ya’ạqov departed), and its incline reaches till the Temple”, or – in another version – “there is a ladder with its feet at Be’er Sheva and its top at Bet-El and its incline reaches towards Jerusalem” (Rashi for 28:17). The problem of the commentators was to connect between the location of Bet-El – which we know as a town in the domain of Benjamin, where the main road from Be’er Sheva to Ḥaran indeed passed through – and the Maqom-place at Mount Moriah, the place of the Ạqedah, and eventually the site of the Temple. We shall treat the ladder of Ya’ạqov’s dream as a multi-dimensional axis, which connects different worlds, not all of them material. The two-dimensional projection of the ladder upon the surface of the earth forms a kind of meta-physical/sacred geography.

What is found at the top of the ladder is actually “The Heavenly Temple” (Bet haMiqdash shel Ma’ạlah), which connects with all those locations with a sacred potential (including Be’er Sheva, Ḥebron, Bet-Leḥem, Mount Moriah, Beit-El and Dan). From this perspective, Bet El and Mount Moriah are similar – in the dimension of the sacred, and the building of the Temple establishes their mutual connections. If we regard it this way – “and he saw the Maqom”, “and he lighted on the Maqom”, and even “and he took the stones of that Maqom”, do not refer just to the physical location, but to the creator of all space – for the word Maqom is also used as a synonym to the Blessed Holy One.

“And he took of the stones of that place-Maqom, and put them under his head”. Ya’ạqov’s connection with that cosmic axis was effected through the stone that he put under his head. It is thus for a reason that the commentators had dwelled much upon that stone. The best known of these midrashim is the one about the stones that quarreled between them, which of them would serve as a pillow for that virtuous man, until a miracle happened, and they all became one stone. Another, less known, midrash, given by the Ramban, that Ya’ạqov picked up, unknowingly, the twelve stones of the altar that Abraham built for the Ạqedah. In any case, the stone is regarded in the Qabbalah as a feminine element, and the ARI’zl sees in it the Yesod (the Foundation, and symbol for the genitals) of Le’ah (his future wife), symbol for the Heavenly Binah-Understanding. This understanding of the stone gives a hint about following events on Ya’ạqov’s journey: in the morning the stone receives a masculine element, when Ya’ạqov erects it as a standing stone monument turning to heaven, and when he arrived at Ḥaran, he rolled the stone (feminine again) from over the well, and opened a passage for his relationship to his future wives.

The (Book of the) Zohar characteristically goes further in its midrash, as follows:

“And he took from the stones of the Maqom-place: it is not written avne haMaqom (stones of the place) but “me’avne haMaqom” (from among the stones of the Maqom), these are precious stones, which are Twelve Superior Stones, as it is written shteym esre Avanim (“Twelve Stones” – Joshu’a 4:3). And under them are twelve thousand hewn ones, and all of them are called “stones” (avanim). Therefore it was said “from the stones of the Maqom-place”, and not “the stones of the Maqom-place”, this is the very Maqom we referred to.

“And he put under his head (mra’ashotav)”: whose head? But the head of whom who is called Maqom, (so) what does it mean ‘mra’ashotav’? If you say (this means) like someone who puts something under his head, this is not so, but ‘mra’ashotav’ (literally, “His Headings”) (mean) the four cardinal directions of the world, three stones to the Northern side, three to the Western side, three to the South side, and three to the East side, and that Maqom stands over them to be restored (or dressed-decorated) by them”.

What is implied by this is that Ya’ạqov built a whole stylized setting consisting of a circle of twelve stones and another stone at the center. In his Sulam (“ladder”) commentary to the Zohar, Rabbi Y.L. Ashlag recalls in the context of these twelve stones the ‘Sea of Brass’ that stood at the Temple of Solomon-Shlomoh, carried over twelve brazen bulls. In our days, the antiquities researcher John Michell has re-discovered “The New Jerusalem Diagram”, which was apparently used for delineating ancient temples around the world, including the Great Pyramid and the megalith temple of the stone circles at Stonehenge, England (see appendix at parashat Lekh-Lekha). In this pattern, the circle is divided into 28 equal sections, in which are marked places for 12 circles arranged in four triplets.

In any case, it is in parashat va’Yeẓe that the expression Bet Elohim – “the House of God” – is first mentioned. This is the preparation for the main subject of the Book of Exodus-Shemot – the building of the Tebernacle-Mishkan (whose aim is “and let them make me a sanctuary, that I may dwell – veshakhanti – among them” – Exodus 25:8). There is a primary condition about building the tabernacle – it being surrounded by the twelve tribes. This becomes evident from the detailing of the Tabernacle in the Book of Exodus, and elaborated in the prophet Ezekiel’s vision about the future Temple (Ezekiel 48), where the Temple precinct is connected with the rest of the country via twelve gates, a gate for each one of the tribes of Israel.

After the delineation of the pattern, including marking the twelve camps in the circle around him, Ḥe Twelve.

“And he dreamed”. Twice in the course of this parashah, Ya’ạqov dreamt a significant dream. The better-known “Jacob’s Dream”, which many painters and artists treated – a ladder with angels ascending and descending – is indeed one of the most picturesque and better-known passages in the scriptures. But to the extent that the theory we posited here is true, and the earthly Ya’ạqov, the schemer, progresses through his years in Ḥaran and his life journey towards transforming himself into the model “Yisra’el”, then this dream perhaps should have come at a later stage, whereas the second dream – about how to increase the herd of the spotted sheep – ostensibly belongs to the old, earthly scheming Ya’ạqov.

We shall still deal with this paradox and its solution.

In any case, the significance of the first dream is in locating the place. The words “And he lighted upon haMaqom and slept there” are written with intention.

“And behold a ladder set up on earth, and the top of it reached to heaven”. The ladder connects heaven and earth, which were separated through the utterances of Bereshit: “Let there be a firmament in the midst of the water, and let it divide water from water” (1:6), as well as “Let the water under the heaven be gathered together to one place-Maqom, and let the land appear” (1:9); as it connects between the different events of Genesis – from the Creation (Beri’ah-Exit) to these exits of Ya’ạqov, to the Exodus from Egypt and the building of the Tabernacle.

Ya’ạqov’s ladder is supported by two pillars, right and left (which parallel his fathers, Abraham and Yiẓḥaq, as well as to the Yakhin and Bo’ạz pillars in Solomon’s Temple, which apparently symbolize the pillars of the cosmic ladder), and the risers between the pillars form “The Middle Pillar” of “The Tree of Life” of the divine Sefirot, which is the pattern for the development of the soul. From this Middle Pillar, which is also “The Middle Bar” (Bari’aḥ haTikhon) – which may “reach from end to end”, as described about the building of the Tabernacle (Exodus 26:28) – Ya’ạqov could watch up and up, beyond all the heavens, as well as downwards – beyond the deepest She’ol (hell), and even (as we shall see in the following) to primordial worlds that had disappeared long ago and left no ostensible trace.

Over the generations, the image of the ladder served to build various philosophical and religious systems for describing the cosmos and the relationship of the divine and the human within that cosmos. We may recall the ecstatic contemplation methods of the Church Fathers, such as Johan Calimacos (namely “the Ladder Man”) of Sinai, who gave inspiration for Sören Kirkegård to build a system of Existentialist Philosophy. Another philosopher, Ludwig Wittgenstein, likened his system in “The Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus” to a six rung ladder.[3] Whoever reaches up, to the seventh level, may leave the ladder and enter the abode of Sophia.

Also in the systems of the Qabbalah there are drawn many Jacob’s ladders, level upon level, stage upon stage, in systems of Sefirot and of Parẓufim (configurations), that are arrayed upon the primordial matrix (a visual image of it may be found within the Dome of the Rock at the Temple Mount in Jerusalem), in order to generate the redemptive acts of restoration-Tiqqun and healing of man – the practical (Ạssiyah), emotional (Yeẓirah) and the intellectual (Beri’ah) – as of five main levels denoted by the four letters of the Tetragrammaton of YHWH together with the tip of (Kuẓo shel) the letter Yod.

“And behold the angel of God-Elohim ascending and descending on it”. The descriptions of angels in the Bible have led to the development of whole “Angelologies”, Jewish Christian and Moslem, which are important motif in religious art. Ya’ạqov’s ladder is perhaps the most fertile of them.

What did Ya’ạqov see in his dream? He saw himself in the Divine world, which is full of angels. Of all the patriarchs, Ya’ạqov is the beloved of the angels. Yishmạ’el was saved by an angel, and so was Yiẓḥaq, but they needed the angels at a critical moment in a dangerous situation. Ya’ạqov is going to be accompanied by angels often, along his various journeys, and they would even become his own messengers.

The angels of that dream vision did not fly with their wings, as angels appear in the collective artistic conceptions, but they needed a ladder. Moreover: the angels – at least according to the concept of the Qabbalah – have no freedom of movement. The prophet Isaiah (6:2) described the angels as “Seraphim standing above him”, and Zekhariah (Zechariah) promised Yehoshu’ạ the High Priest “I will give you movements (mahalakhim) among these who stand by” (3:7). That is, the angels stand, as they have no ability to change. Only man has movements-mahalakhim in the spiritual dimension among them, only man can change, to experience both the higher and the lower worlds. That is, the ladder is actually man. It is man who connects between the divine and the mundane worlds. Ya’ạqov, dreaming about the ladder, was actually seeing himself as the Cosmic Man. For each one of the angels in the ladder there is a given place and definite task. The Seraphim described by Isaiah have – in spite of their being standing – “each one had six wings”. The wings are steering-wings, for navigating in the spaces of spiritual worlds, in which there operate the six spiritual measures: Ḥesed-Love; Din-Judgment; Raḥamim-Compassion; Neẓaḥ-winning; Hod-yielding; and Yesod-thoroughness.

“And behold a ladder… And behold, the Lord-YHWH stood above it”. The simple image is of a kind of ladder, something like a household ladder, above which there is something that represents the divine Being (HaWaYaH), such as the letters Y.H.W.H. The name of YHWH also fashions the steps of the enchanted ladder from its own Being. This is a ladder of letters, that each of its risers is built from a Name of Being, a fractal structure, where the name of YHWH is bubbling throughout it, at any scale.

Not only angels ascended and descended the ladder, claims the Qabbalah, but also the virtuous persons (Ẓadiqim) may climb it, as is written “The name of the Lord YHWH is a strong tower; the righteous runs in it” (Proverbs 18:10). Supported by this verse, the Mequbalim of all generations often tried to utilize the names of YHWH in order to reach the needed merit to ascend and descend Ya’ạqov’s ladder.

Since the flowering of the Qabbalah in Safed, it is customary to characterize the different manifestations of the Name of YHWH by gematria values that derive from the “fillings” (Miluy) of the names of the letters by additional letters: One stage (the higher one) of the ladder was that of 72 (ẠV-) with the Miluy of Yod Hy Wyw Hy (יוד הי ויו הי[4]) – another is of 63 (SaG) with Miluy of Yod Hy Waw Hy (יוד הי ואו הי) – of 52 (BeN) with Miluy of Yod Hh Ww Hh (יוד הה וו הה) – and of 45 (MaH) with Miluy of Yod He Waw He (יוד הא ואו הא).

“And said, I Am the Lord-YHWH God of Avraham thy father, and the God of Yiẓḥaq; the Ereẓ-earth on which thou liest, to thee will I give it, and to thy seed, and thy seed shall be as the dust of the earth…”. These words of the Lord pertain to the spiritual structure of the ladder. The ladder is Man, whom the Lord stands over. The saying “God of Avraham thy father” yet not “God of Yiẓḥaq thy father” shows the status f Ya’ạqov himself within this ladder, as a derivation of Abraham – the side of Ḥesed-Mercy – and as equal to his biological father Yiẓḥaq – the side of Din-Judgment. YHWH is above him, because He is the God of both his fathers, Abraham and Yiẓḥaq. Their very different grasp of the Lord are situated at his two sides, right and left, as the pillars of the ladder, and allow him to build the risers between them, for the righteous to run by, as was shown above “The name of the Lord YHWH is a strong tower; the righteous runs in it” (Proverbs 18:10).

Yet, what makes this assembly into a ladder (and not just a flying “Chariot”-Merkavah) is its connection with “the earth (Ereẓ) on which thou liest”.

“the earth on which thou liest, to thee will I give it, and to thy seed, and thy seed shall be as the dust of the earth (Ereẓ)” (27:13-14). What makes the event so real and gives meaning to the memory is that Ya’ạqov is connected to the earth and joined to her[5]. The erotic rendering of Ya’ạqov’s connection to the earth at that place-Maqom testifies to his psychological attitude. The event happened when he was about to exit and leave the land, perhaps forever, and his relationship to her must have been accompanied with much nostalgia. This connection was amplified by the ritualized preparation of the place for sleep and for dreaming, by placing the stones in the special order alluded above.

The divine epiphany continued with the same thematic association to earth rituals, Ya’ạqov was lying on (with) the earth, and immediately his seed was mentioned, and this seed was immediately equated with the dust of the earth.[6]

“And thou shalt spread abroad to the west, and to the east, and to the north, and to the south”. The ritual actions noted above, the placing of the stones around the locus of the epiphany ritual according to the four cardinal directions, result in that the blessing would spread from the Maqom to the four “ends of the earth”.

“This is no other than the house of God, and this is the gate of heaven”. Upon his exiting the land, Ya’ạqov observed in his vision “the house of God and.. the gate of heaven” (28:17). Why did Ya’ạqov receive this vision and not his fathers? Had Ya’ạqov stayed in the land, it would have been difficult for him to live his daily life in a land that belonged to the peoples of Kena’ạn-Canaan, and act to realize the Temple in his life. He would have either yielded and turn himself into a “Canaanite”, or would have become a suicidal zealot, of the type that Shim’on and Levi eventually turned out. Ya’ạqov adopted the typical Jewish solution, which would return many times since. His journey to Ḥaran is a means to procure the means to realize the vision of building the House of God. On the other hand, the luxuries of the exile might certainly banish the old dream from his mind, and the role of Laban was to make him remember.

In the Book of Exodus we shall encounter the basic pattern of the Tabernacle. The planning principle is to provide a sacred center, common for twelve brothers-tribes who are likely to be feuding among them, a place for conferring (hitva’ạdut) and for confessing (hitvadut) for the expiation of their sins. The fact that the dream about the House of God at the Land of Israel was the dream of their father Ya’ạqov, would enable the Temple to be common to all “The Children of Israel”.

“And Ya’ạqov rose up early in the morning” (28:18). We have already found this mode of getting up with Abraham, when he sent Hagar and Ishmael away from his house, and on his exit towards the Ạqedah. Also Bil’ạm rose up early in the morning in order to curse Israel (Numbers 22:21). Abraham rose up early to attend to controversial matters, Ya’ạqov rose up to perform cultic-magical ritual building of erecting a standing stone.

“And took the stone that he had put under his head, and set it up for a pillar, and poured oil on the top of it”. Such an erection of a megalith is well known from archeological research. A tall megalith, placed erect, against the earth’s gravity, the top of which was libated with oil, or blood of sacrifice, is recognized as a primordial form of building a temple. These were temples that indicate great potencies of hidden terrestrial energies, which may arouse the imaginative faculties of people. The stone thus became a mark for the Maqom, yet Ya’ạqov was not satisfied with the primary spontaneous temple. He made a vow and stipulated conditions to the Lord “If God will be with me, and will keep me in this way that I go, and will give me bread to eat… so I come back to my father’s house in peace”, then, he promised “the Lord-YHWH shall be my God; and this stone, which I have set for a pillar, shall be God’s house; and of all that thou shalt give me I will surely give the tenth to thee” (28:20-22).

The Promise to Build the House of God

The possibility of building “the House of God” – BeT Elohim, is already coded into the first words of Genesis “Be(reshi)T (bara) Elohim”. This is the very object of the Acts of Creation: “from the first day that the Holy One created the world he craved… to dwell with his creatures in the lower worlds” (Bamidbar Raba, parashah 13). The hidden motif of the Book of Genesis is the building of the Temple, and the stone that Ya’ạqov erected at Luz, is itself a Luz, the upper vertebra of the spinal column, to which the Midrashim assign a major function: “From whence will the Holy One erect Man at the Time to Come? From the Luz of the spinal column” (Bereshit Raba 28). This is the small bone that never gets lost and serves as the seed for the rebuilding of the body at the resurrection of the dead, and from there Ya’ạqov promised to build the House of God, by his hands, or the hands of his twelve sons.

The scripture goes three times to remind us that that Maqom-place was called by Ya’ạqov Bet-El, “but the name of the city was called Luz at first” (Gen. 28:19; 35:6; Judges 1:23), which clearly indicates the importance of this information. According to the legends of the sages, Luz was the city of the immortals. In many traditions, the city of the immortals is adjacent to the cosmic axis that connects heaven and earth. Thus, for example, in central Asia are traditions about the hidden city of the enlightened ones, Shambhalla or Agharta, close to Mount Meru, which is the mountain that connects heaven and earth. Luz is thus a city of eternity, but then also “The Eternity-Neẓaḥ is Jerusalem, and the Hod is the Temple (Bavly, Berakhot 58a).

Abraham and Yiẓḥaq, in their encounters with God, built ad-hoc altars. Ya’ạqov made new terms, more durable: a stone pillar that will stand as a sign, and more than that: a “House of God”.

“And this stone, which I have set for a pillar, shall be God’s house”. When ya’ạqov went to sleep, the stone was lying upon the earth under his head, and thus allowed his head to turn upwards, as he was dreaming about a ladder connecting heaven and earth. After he got up, deeply moved, he erected the stone vertically, which is not natural for stones and for most animals, but is in the image of the erect Adam (“Homo Erectus”), where the name for Adam is also from Adame le’Ẹlyon (“I shall resemble the High One”), and Adam-human who erects the stone is also himself “a small Temple”.

In the dedication of the stone to mark the future Temple there is also a sign for our times: the relocation of the Temple Axis, and of the Temple pattern that is in the Image of Man, from a horizontal to a vertical axis. It points that the future temple will be erect as a ladder and would connect the earthly Jerusalem with the Heavenly Temple.

Such a ritual action should have been performed in pride and joy, but Ya’ạqov did it in fear and trembling: “And he was afraid, and said, How awesome is this place! This is no other but the house of God, and this is the gate of heaven” (28:17). Also the words of the vow that Ya’ạqov vowed there disclose his state at that moment. He was still full of fears and worries, and did not trust himself to be able to overcome the practical difficulties: “If God will be with me, and will keep me in this way that I go, and will give me bread to eat, and garment to put on, so that I come back to my father’s house in peace”. For up to then he was a spoilt child who dwells in his mother’s tent.

Yet soon enough he had the opportunity for the first proof that he was capable of taking care of himself and for others, through a miracle that was connected with another stone.

Ya’ạqov and Yishmạ’el (& Mohammed)

Before we examine Ya’ạqov’s sojourn in Ḥaran, we should perhaps pay attention to the parallels between the exit of Ya’ạqov from the land to Ḥaran, to the sending away of Yishmạ’el.[7]

Yishmạ’el was sent from Abraham’s house at the command of Sara, who worried that he may endanger her son Yiẓḥaq, whereas Ya’ạqov was sent from the house of Yiẓḥaq to Ḥaran at the behest of his mother Rivqah, who was afraid that his older brother would kill him. There is thus much similarity between the two stories, but also difference, and this difference is accompanied by differences in their life stories in the following. Yishmạel had to fend for himself completely, whereas Ya’ạqov enjoyed the family hospitality of Laban (see below) that did cost him dearly, but brought him eventually a big family and much property. Yishmạel returned to Canaan a few decades later, but only for a visit, to participate in the burial of Abraham, when he was already well established, and father of twelve sons that were destined for greatness. Ya’ạqov would also return after twenty years, also well established, with much property and twelve sons, but in order to settle in the land. It is written, “And Ya’ạqov dwelt in the land in which his father had sojourned” (37:1).

According to the Moslem tradition and exegesis, Yishma’el-Ishmael lived at Mecca, whereas Mohammad arrived in “The Night Journey” (Al-Isra’) to Jerusalem. This way, there was opened an additional axis that leads to Jerusalem. Ya’ạqov erected his stone pillars at Bet-El and the Gile’ad on the line that leads from Jerusalem to the house of Naḥor at Ḥaran, whereas Mohammad opened the Mecca-Jerusalem axis, which is of immense importance for our times. The Biblical narrative that leads to the setting and renewal of the Temple cannot be realized without including in the consideration the Mecca-Jerusalem axis, as marking the essence of the relationship between Judaism and Islam.

The first Temple was destroyed by enemies from Babel in the East, and the Second Temple was destroyed by the armies of Rome in the West (though both arrived via Syria in the north). It is possible to show that the turns over the generations of the relations of Ya’ạqov and Ẹsav opened the East (Jerusalem) – West (Rome) axis as the main axis for the relationship of Judaism and Christianity. Any plan for a “Third Temple” will have to express these axes, in order to give meaning to the symbolic relationship between Israel and Judaism to Christianity and to Islam, and the amelioration and perfection of these relationships in the new Temple.

Part II – Ya’ạqov in Ḥaran

The Moving of the Stone off the Well

At Bet-El did Ya’ạqov set up a stone, and at Ḥaran Ya’ạqov pulled out and removed the stone that was placed upon the well’s mouth. It is hard to know which stone was larger: the monolith, which must have been at least as high as a man’s stature, or the stone upon the well’s mouth at Ḥaran. This stone is mentioned three-four times: “and a great stone was upon the well’s mouth”, “and there were all the flocks gathered, and they rolled the stone from the well’s mouth… and put the stone back upon the well’s mouth in its place” (29:2-3), “We cannot, until all the flocks are gathered together, and till they roll the stone from the well’s mouth” (29:8).

Ya’ạqov arrived, charged with immense energies that were gathered within him since that pillar that he had placed at Bet-El, and he discharged them by rolling the stone upon the well’s mouth at aran. The name “Ḥaran” is an expression of dryness (like “Garon niḥar” – dried throat), but Ya’ạqov, as a token of what is to come, opened the apertures of her land. Compared with the pillar at Bet-El, which symbolized the ladder between earth and heaven; the stone at Ḥaran blocked the passage between what is going on the ground and the depths and the water stored in the earth.

Meeting with Raḥel by the Mouth of the Well.

“And it came to pass, when Ya’ạqov saw Raḥel the daughter of Lavan his mother’s brother” (29:10). The Bible doubles the words that show the affinity that was between them beforehand, in a manner that recalls the doubling in the mention of “take now thy son, thy only son Yiẓḥaq, whom thou lovest” (22:2).

“And the sheep of Lavan his mother’s brother” (29:10) – also the sheep have an important part in the plot, which will increase along with the development of the story. The act of valor was done to impress Raḥel, but it was done also for the sake of the sheep, to water them.

“Ya’ạqov went near, and rolled the stone from the well’s mouth”. It used to require the combined strength of all the shepherds of Ḥaran to roll the stone off the well’s mouth. But on the moment that Ya’ạqov beheld Raḥel, he turned into a strongman like Samson, and alone rolled the stone from the well’s mouth and watered the sheep, all in order to impress her. The sages say that he did it easily, “like one who removes the cork from the bottle” (Midrash Raba for Ecclesiastes, section 9).

But this show of valor was destined to lead him to a prolonged carrying of a yoke, for the course of the next twenty years. The voluntary slavery in herding the sheep, for the sake of Raḥel, was the appropriate thing, as the name “Raḥel” literally means “an ewe”. Rivqah – the meaning of whose name is a heiffer – was chosen because of her caring for Eliẹzer’s animals; Raḥel would cause Ya’ạqov a long and important connection with sheep.

“And (he) watered – vayashq – the flock of Lavan his mother’s brother. And Ya’ạqov kissed – vayishaq – Raḥel, and raised his voice, and wept”. Ya’ạqov is the one who introduced kisses into the world of the Patriarchs. The first kiss – Neshiqah – mentione din the Bible is the kiss of Ya’ạqov to his father, to Yiẓḥaq – but that was a kiss stolen by cheating. Only after he watered – hishqah – the sheep of Lavan, his mother’s brother, he could legitimately continue “and he kissed – vayishaq – Raḥel”(his mother’s brother). To the sheep he gave water, to the woman he drew up the flow of his heart. This kiss made him an adult for the first time. Eventually, he would kiss his brother Ẹsav, after the crossing of Yaboq, and this would complete his process of maturing and overcoming.

But soon enough it was found that Raḥel was entailed with Lavan, that according to his mouth all will be decided – yishaq Davar.

Unlike Eli’ẹzer, who arrived at the house of Laban with camels loaded with expensive presents, Ya’ạqov was the poor and needy nephew, who would become an exploited serf at his father in law’s house. How would he avoid becoming the most despised minor among Laban’s children? The answer was in his love to Raḥel. In the mighty contention with Laban for twenty years, his weakness and his strength derive from this love.

The meeting by the well, which is the means of watering and vivifying the sheep, symbolized much of course: the well – which gives life – is the womb of the earth and is also Raḥel herself, the desired woman. Ya’ạqov exited from “Be’er-Sheva” – namely, “the Well of Seven”. According to the ARI’zl (sha’ar hapsuqim for “vayeẓe”), Ya’ạqov is “Yesod (the 2nd Sefirah from bottom, corresponding to the human genitals) of Abba (Father archetype/Partsuf) that is put into the Yesodof Imma (Mother archetype/Parẓuf)”. This is explained in the sequel: “the Yesod of Imma is feminine, it is upturned to become a well, carved and hollow, inside which enters the said member, and therefore the female Yesod is always called ‘Well’”. His meeting with Raḥel is by the mouth of the well at Ḥaran.

The amazing earthly falling in love is, thus, the reflection of a cosmic event of erotic nature.

“And it came to pass, when Lavan heard the tidings of Ya’ạqov his sister’s son, that he ran to meet him”. Who was Lavan? We have already met Lavan at Eli’ẹzer’s visit, where he ran to the well after he saw the presents that his sister received from the anonymous visitor.

On the face of it, Lavan is the punishment due for Ya’ạqov, a measure for measure. Ya’ạqov, who cheated (ạqav) his brother, found a still greater cheater to contend with. It is easy to hate Lavan, but it seems as if the correction-Tiqqun of the scheming Ya’ạqov was precisely through the arch-villain Lavan. The Mequbalim found a clue that Lavan (meaning “White” in Hebrew) represents the highest influence, “The Superior Whiteness” (Loven ha’Ẹlyon), which is too sublime for Ya’ạqov’s mind, and which brings him to perform much beyond just what his heart would have desired.

The white color carries many meanings, which might be different in different cultures, but are always significant and primary. In general, white and red are regarded as signifying basic emotional conflict, and many national conflicts found their expression in the contention of the white color and red color.[8] The book of the Zohar starts with “the stanza of the Rose”, which compares the Spirit of Israel (Knesset Yisra’el) to a rose: just as the rose has both white and red, so Knesset Yisra’el has both the white of Mercy (Ḥesed) and the red of rigor (Gevurah).

The rose that is Knesset Yisra’el has thirteen petal, these are the tribes of Israel. There is a balancing of the qualities of the white and the red and their derivatives. In the former parashah, we saw the contention of Ya’ạqov with Ẹsav, the one who was characterized by the red color and was named after it. In this parashah, we learn of the rectification of Ya’ạqov through contention with Lavan (namely “White”). In the late Qabbalah, the White is symbol for the figure of Abba-Father and the Red a symbol for the figure of Imma-Mother.

The psychological meaning of this is that through his contention with Lavan, Ya’ạqov strives with the Father Figure within himself. While that was Abraham who had bound Yiẓḥaq, here it was Lavan who bound Ya’ạqov and tied him to the Merkavah – the “Chariot”/assembly of the Patriarchs.

Also the original flock of Lavan was apparently almost all white, and the seed for change was in just a few sheep with diverse patterns – streaked, speckled, spotted, or grizzled.

At first it seems that the meeting of Ya’ạqov with his uncle was hearty, almost like his meeting with Raḥel his daughter: Lavan ran towards him, hugged and kissed him, called him “my bone and my flesh” and “my brother” and seemed to be concerned for his welfare, asking him to name his wages.[9]

“And Laban had two daughters; the name of the elder was Le’ah, and the name of the younger was Raḥel” (29:16). Le’ah was the firstborn (bekhirah), but Raḥel was the choice (beḥirah) of Ya’ạqov. Le’ah inherited the invisible “Supernal Whiteness” of her father. She became the representative of Lavan in the house of Ya’ạqov; whereas Raḥel was the Red, the emotional. Ya’ạqov – who could not get along with his brother Ẹsav who was called “Edom” and characterized by the color Red (adom) – sought his complement and restitution (Tiqqun) in his wife, that immediately at meeting her she filled him with intense feelings, symbolized by the color Red.

“And Jacob loved Raḥel; and said, I will serve you seven years for Raḥel your younger daughter”. At this stage, there were no negotiations yet. The enamored and destitute Ya’ạqov was ready to offer anything. The crafty Lavan must have understood that he could draw the deal more and more by cheating. After seven years he changed his wages and stealthily brought him Le’ah. After this change was discovered, Lavan entangled Ya’ạqov to work for additional seven years for Raḥel.

Ya’ạqov received his punishment from Lavan, a measure for measure: he posed as his brother and came to his blind father – who lived in darkness – to take the coveted blessing for himself, whereas Le’ah came to him in the darkness, posing as her sister. The initiative for Ya’ạqov’s masquerading was his mother, Rivqah, the initiator of Leah’s masquerading was her father, Lavan, Ya’ạqov’s mother’s brother.

But like Ẹsav, who nevertheless was also blessed, so was Ya’ạqov, who was detained from his desire by cheating, destined to marry also the younger sister and also the maids of both sisters. What was formed through this mighty contention of sisters was the pattern of the Twelve Tribes, which the House of Yiẓḥaq has not yet succeeded to realize.

“And he went in also to Raḥel, and he loved also Raḥel more than Leah, and served with him yet seven other years. And when the Lord saw that Leah was hated, he opened her womb; but Raḥel was barren”. Apparently, Ya’ạqov would have been content with one son from his beloved wife. He might have done nothing even if his beloved wife had stayed barren. It was the circumstances, the cunning of providence, which brought him to engage so much in the first command given to Adam and his wife “be fruitful and multiply”. Le’ah, the elder sister, knew that she was not loved by her husband, but knew how to become “the mother of the sons”.

It was in fact Lavan’s cunning, together with the sisters’ contention among them, which brought to the realization of the divine plan about the pattern of the Twelve.

The Contention between Le’ah and Raḥel

In telling the story of Ya’ạqov, the Bible leaves its usual and reserved style, in order to tell a passionate love story. The real heavy emotional drama, which is just hinted at but is easy to understand, is about what passed between the sisters from the moment that Ya’ạqov fell in love with Raḥel. While Ya’ạqov was struggling with Lavan, whom he was serving, the sisters struggled over Ya’ạqov’s bed and the right to beget, and spurned no means to succeed where the matriarchs that preceded them failed. More precisely, they learnt to make the mental sacrifices necessary for the founding of Israel, the sacrifice in giving the maid to their husbands in their place, a sacrifice that was also made by Sarah, but she never really reconciled with it. The two sisters did it wholeheartedly. “The Original Sin” of envy among brothers connected with sacrificing property was first restituted among the matriarchs-sisters, that while they did envy each other they made a mutual creation.

The birth of the twelve happened in three stages, or “waves”, four sons in each stage. First, Le’ah bore four sons, and at that stage the beloved Raḥel recognized her failure and complained before Ya’ạqov. “And when Raḥel saw that she bore Jacob no children, Raḥel envied her sister; and said to Ya’ạqov, Give me children, or else I die. And Ya’ạqov’s anger was kindled against Raḥel; and he said, Am I in God’s place, who has withheld from you the fruit of the womb? And she said, Behold my maid Bilhah, go in to her; and she shall bear upon my knees, that I may also have children by her.” (30:1-3).

In this protracted struggle among the ladies, the boundaries between lady and maid got severed, and what was not possible at Abraham’s with Sarah and Hagar, became possible at Ya’ạqov’s. As each one of the sisters went on and gave her maid to her husband, she regarded the sons of the maid as an addition to her power, and accepted the sons of the maid as her own sons. The contending sisters did in fact reconcile with each other, complemented each other in building together the vessel that could contain the Twelve Tribe of Israel as a model for redemptive agency. “When the Most High divided to the nations their inheritance, when he set apart the sons of Adam, he set the bounds of the people according to the number of the people of Israel”.

Raḥel was the first. Through despairing of giving birth she agreed to be built from Bil’hah: “Behold my maid Bil’hah, go in to her; and she shall bear upon my knees, that I may also have children by her.” This way were born Dan and Naphtali, who have to do with Din-Judgment and Naftulim-wrestling.

When Le’ah realized that the race is on, but that she stopped conceiving, she too overcame her natural urge and gave to Ya’ạqov her own maid, Zilpah. From this union came Gad and Asher, both signs of blessing and abundance.

At that stage, the four tribes have already turned into eight. What has been gained can be appreciated by geometrical analysis: with four rods[10] it is possible to form a square assembly, a form that describes a surface, but it lacks volume and cannot contain “depth”. The minimal 3 dimensional structure (or “vessel”-Kli) that can be built of rods is of six rods (a Tetrahedron). With eight rods, it is possible to build a square pyramid, and with twelve rods, it is possible to build a cube (or an octahedron), which is a structure (namely a vessel) that can contain much more blessing.

In order to attain the perfection of the twelve and the cube, there came “the Mandrake affair” and gave the last addition that included another four tribes, and especially added – hoseph – the House of Yoseph.

The Case of the Mandrakes in the field

“And Reuben went in the days of wheat harvest, and found mandrakes in the field, and brought them to his mother Leah. Then Raḥel said to Leah, Give me, I beg you, of your son’s mandrakes. And she said to her, Is it a small matter that you have taken my husband? And would you take away my son’s mandrakes also? And Raḥel said, Therefore he shall lie with you to night for your son’s mandrakes. And Ya’ạqov came from the field in the evening, and Leah went out to meet him, and said, You must come in to me; for I have hired you with my son’s mandrakes. And he lay with her that night. And God listened to Leah, and she conceived, and bore Ya’ạqov the fifth son” (30:14-17).

The hectic story of fertility at the tents of Ya’ạqov tarries for a moment on the scene of the mandrakes, in which the sisters repeat – in reverse – the scene of the brothers Ya’ạqov and Ẹsav, who held negotiations concerning a potage and senior birthrights. Ẹsav sold the firstborn right, which is a long term proposition, for the price of a momentary desire for a potage; Raḥel sold one night of pleasure with her husband, for the price of the mandrakes – a possible remedy for her bareness and the continuation of her bloodline. The outcome of these selling and buying is the birth of three additional children to Le’ah, and a first son for Raḥel.

The finding of the mandrakes in the field opened anew the struggle that only came to a halt when Le’ah, “the mother of the children”, gave birth to six, but also the barren Raḥel gained two sons. The finding of the mandrakes in the field aroused in Raḥel a renewed hope for a child from her own womb, and reopened for Le’ah an entrance to the tent of Ya’ạqov. What was there in those mandrakes, that they returned the pungent smell of desire to the arid tents? In the Bible, the mandrakes appear only once more – in the Song of Songs (7:14) – where it says: “The mandrakes give a fragrance, and at our gates are all manner of fruits, new and old”. The mandrakes have both fruit and a large root, shaped like a human body, and the belief is that the roots of the mandrake and its fruit raise desire for fertility.

It was Re’uven who found the mandrakes, and it is likely that this was apposite. The soul of Re’uven has a quality related to the mandrake fruit, the arouser of passion. This was the same Re’uven to whom it was said: “thou wentest up to thy father’s bed; then thou didst defile it: he went up to my couch” (49:4), and in that same blessing-curse Ya’ạqov regarded him as “unstable as water”. In the system of the Qabbalah, Reuven is associated with “The Water Element”. His natural course of ascent is that of passion => Love (Ahavah) => Will (Yahav) => Being (YHWH as “Name of HaWaYaH, in the combination of H-W-H- Y).[11]

The finding of the mandrakes is the first event that marks leadership among the brothers. The fruit of passion that her son gave her, granted Le’ah a renewed access to Ya’ạqov’s bed, and a double fruit: the permission granted by Raḥel was apparently for one time. But the birth of two additional sons and of a daughter shows that this could not have been a unique occasion. Re’uven brought here to himself a leadership position which is associated with lovemaking, with love and grace. Eventually, “the Flag of the Camp of Re’uven” will be associated with southern sector of the camping of the twelve tribes around the tabernacle (the South side is associated in the Kabbalah with Ḥesed-Grace and Love).

Le’ah, from her side, made a sacrifice. Yielding the mandrakes to her sister was in fact her own symbolic redemption from infertility. It was precisely when she yielded the symbol of fertility to her sister, she regained fertility for herself, mated with Ya’ạqov and immediately conceived and bore him another son.

The fertility attribute of these mandrakes had thus its effect for both the sisters, and at last, the womb of the barren Raḥel opened and she gave birth to Yoseph (Joseph). The meaning here of this name “Yoseph” is expressly a double meaning – both the taking away – Asifah – of her reproach (30:23), as well as the prayer for the future addition – yosiph – by the Lord of another son (30:24). In this sense, also the birth of Binyamin, years later, was connected with the birth of Yoseph and the case of the mandrakes that Raḥel received from her elder sister.

The Birth of Yoseph

The miracle of the opening of Raḥel’s womb was preceded, as we noted, by three births by Le’ah. “And God hearkened to Le’ah, and she conceived, and bore Ya’ạqov a fifth son” (30:17), “And Le’ah conceived again, and bore Ya’ạqov a sixth son” (30:19).

“And afterwards she bore a daughter, and called her name Dinah. And God remembered Raḥel, and God hearkened to her, and opened her womb. And she conceived and bore a son; and said, God has taken away my reproach. And she called his name Yoseph; and said, The Lord shall add to me another son” (30:21-24).

It was specifically the birth of the one daughter, Dinah, which opened what was closed and barred among the sisters.[12] The birth of Dinah was a sign for the birth of Yoseph, to God’s remembrance of Raḥel and for opening her womb.

At that stage, Yoseph was Raḥel’s only son, and the other sons, the sons of Le’ah and of the maids, were distanced from Yoseph by various degrees. In the next parashah we shall see how the original contention and envy among the sisters passed to the next generation and were translated to the scenes of contention and envy of Yoseph’s brothers to him.

Regarding the Motherhood-Games and Leadership-Struggles in Israel.

The name of this parashah is “vaYeẓe”, and its subject matter is the realization (hoẓa’ah lapo’ạl) of the plan to prepare the pioneering-nation for new humankind. The essential quality of this nation is its being formed in the pattern of the twelve brother-tribes, for mellowing (Mituq, literally “sweetening) the envy and severe competition among brothers since the times of Qayin-Cain and Hevel-Abel. But as we have already observed in the struggles between brothers of this lineage, between Yishmạ’el and Yiẓḥaq and especially between the twin brothers Ya’ạqov and Ẹsav, the actual emergence of the twelve is taking place through – and from – struggle.

The struggle took place first between the sisters Raḥel and Le’ah, and they both enlisted for their aid also the maids that they received from their father Lavan. They were fighting over the inheritance and material possessions for their sons, but were also fighting over the seniority at the future Nation of Israel, the leadership and the kingdom over it.

The parashah tells of the strivings of the sisters, that bring to the establishment of the camps of four wives that surround the father of the tribes and to bringing to the world the twelve inheritors (the twelfth, Binyamin, would be born later). In the following three figures of candidates emerged for leadership among the twelve: Re’uven, Yehudah-Judah and Yoseph, and there is also hinted the possibility for seniority of Dan from among the sons of the maids (though the explanation of this seniority would come only later, in the story of Shimshon-Samson in the Book of Judges).

In the struggle between Le’ah and Raḥel, the weapons were beauty and fertility. The style of the struggle was dictated by the customs of that period, but the emotions and their intensity are still meaningful today. With every son she bore, the mother gained a credit point. The struggle against the sister – the feminine version of the Biblical brothers-conflicts that were already examined – was so strong, that it could overcome the potential struggle with the maid who bears an inheritor. The mothers’ envy that poisoned the relations of Yiẓḥaq and Yishma’el already does not flare up in the new vessel that was formed.

The possible parallel for our times would be if each one of the parties that would fight over the leadership of Israel (say, as example, “the Right” and “the Left”), would enlist assisting tribes from among parties currently regarded as being outside of the Israeli identity – possibly foreign workers from one hand and Palestinians on the other hand. In this context, there would be a great significance for the possibility of organizing the contemporary Israel as a confederation of twelve tribes, which allows flexibility in apportioning resources and civic rights to their members.

The Names of the Tribes and the Structure of their Covenant

Parashat va’Yeẓe gives an account of the order of the emergence – yeẓi’ah la’Ọlam – of the tribes, and this order hints at an order for the components of a larger whole. The emergence of the tribes is, as noted, in three stages of four each.

In naming her first four sons, Le’ah related them to the divine by basic attributes: Re’uben, namely Re’u-Ben – “see a son” – through sight; Shim’ọn through Shmi’ạh – hearing; Levi through accompaniment Livuy; and Yehudah through thanking-confessing – hodayah-hoda’ah. The appropriate leadership of Israel should be selected from these qualities – a Vision, as the Children of Israel might have acquired at Sinai but did not; Hearing Shmi’ạh, which connotes discipline-Mishma’ạt; the work of the Levites in clinging to God-Hitla’vut; or admission-confession-Hoda’yah which has to do with humility.

An immediate and flowing divine grace brought about a typical fourfold Merkavah-assembly. The first four are the sons of Le’ah. The order of Reuven-Shim’on-Levi-Yehudah is parallel to the structure of the Merkavah of the patriarchs – Abraham-Yiẓḥaq-Ya’ạqov-David – and they occupy in this assembly the same relative positions of Right-Left-Back-Leading. They are placed at the top part of the ladder that is being formed, building in fact from heaven downwards. But the position of Yehudah would be determined through descent, “And… Yehudah went down from his brothers, and turned in…” (Gen. 38:1), and he therefore also rules on the earthly plain and leads it with a heavenly intelligence, which is passed through the structure of this “Israeli Merkavah”.

In the last appendix to the last Parashah – vaYeḥi – we shall return to the names of the brothers and their ordering within the arra of names of the high priests’ breast-plate (Ḥoshen) and see how well they fit a special pattern (of “The Star of David”) that has already emerged at the acts of the Creation and became identified with the name of “Yisra’el”. We shall also see the dynamic balancing among the tribes that is hinted by the (Gematria) values of the letters of the tribes’ names in this array.

The Negotiations of Ya’ạqov and Lavan.

After the birth of Yoseph, the son of the beloved wife Raḥel, Ya’ạqov’s decided to return to his land and his father’s house. At this stage, he was already able to negotiate with Lavan. Both of them were suspicious and did not trust each other, and therefore Ya’ạqov suggested a method of proving that he would not steal sheep from Lavan. He would select the sheep that have various marks on their fur, “So shall my righteousness answer for me in time to come, when thou shalt come to see my hire before thy face: every one that is not speckled and spotted among the goats, and brown among the sheep, that shall be counted stolen with me” (30:33).

In this manner starts a long and twisted story, which is repeated and recounted in many details, and recalls the long conversation of Abraham’s slave about the camels. The contention of Ya’ạqov and Lavan takes place over the cattle, and we – who have hardly learnt about the characteristics of Ya’ạqov’s wives – come to repeat and learn in minute details all about the shapes of the spots of the beasts. It is only at the last round that we learn the secret, that Ya’ạqov had dreamt a prophetic dream from “I Am the God of Bet-El, where thou didst anoint a pillar, and where thou didst vow a vow to me” (31:13), a dream that was dedicated, of all things, to the breeding of the cattle (and to the exit from Ḥaran to his homeland). This apparently-marginal mention hints at something that upturns all the order of the worlds that we have learnt up to now.

In the course of the narrative, there are given many and various descriptions to the spots on the animals’ furs, but in the recounting of the dream there is given the formula “streaked, speckled and grizzled” (Ạqudim, Nequdim u’Berudim). In the course of the generations, the Jewish Biblical exegesis came to attribute the most profound secrets to this detail, concerning the worlds that preceded This World of ours. In the Lurianic Qabbalah we learn that this was the order of cosmological development: “The World-Ọlam of the Ạqudim, Ọlam ha’Nequdim and Ọlam ha’Berudim. The first two worlds were “worlds of Chaos” (Ọlamot Tohu), whereas the last is “The World of Rectification” – Ọlam ha’Tiqqun.[13]

One may wonder why these cosmological secrets should be hinted at in this very earthly context of acquiring cattle. It seems the nature of prophecies, that they bring the vision from the depths. Even in our times, in many cases that a contemporary person is taken by the urge to prophecy (or “channel”), he (or more likely, she) is likely to have visions about ancient, antediluvian, continents, such as “Atlantis” and “Lemuria”, that disappeared under the waves in prehistoric times. We have already seen that Ya’ạqov was given a dream where he saw heavenly worlds. It seems as if now, when his head was full of concerns of property and cattle, it was not the heavens that opened to him, but the hidden strata below the earth and the energies in them. The powers of fertility in the earth are connected, it seems, to primordial and ancient powers, which are called in the Qabbalah Orot ha’Tohu (“Lights of Chaos”) and they are connected in the divinity to the emergence of “The Name of Be’N” (“Son”),[14] which is also called Behema Raba (“The Great Beast” – as the word “Beast”-BeHeMaH has the same gematria value of 52 as the word “Son”-BeN).

Within this complex world model, Ya’ạqov-Yisra’el is the Universal Man who builds the World of Rectification, and he is found in mutual affinities both with “Le’ah”, who is the Sefirah of Binah and Parẓuf Imma (“The Mother Archetype” as Le’ah is “The Mother of the Children – Em ha’Banim) that is the hidden and covert world, as well as with “Raḥel” who is the Shekhinah, the Sefirah of Malkhut and Parẓuf haNuqba (The Feminine Face of God) which is the manifest world.

The point of all these things is what we learnt before about the primary characteristics of Ẹsav and of Ya’ạqov. Whereas Ẹsav-Esau is “Ạsuy” – all ready-made, Ya’ạqov requires development, change, and rectification, and through his rectifying himself he also rectifies the world around him.

Part 3 – The Hasty Exit from Lavan’s House and the Erection of Stone Monument at the Gil’ad.

At this stage of the story, anyway, Ya’ạqov was still far from evolving up to the level of “Yisra’el”. Just as he had run away from his father’s house in the past, he now ran away from the house of Lavan, whose property he appropriated by cunning, afraid that his relative may regret the deal he stroke with him so much that he might kill him.

The theft of the Idolons-Teraphim

“And Lavan went to shear his sheep, Now Raḥel had stolen (vatignov) the images that were her father’s. And Ya’ạqov outwitted Lavan (vayignov et lev Lavan – stole the heart of Lavan) the Aramite, in that he told him not that he fled. So he fled with all that he had; and he rose up, and passed over the river and set his face toward the mount Gil’ad” (31:19-21).

Very soon, we find that Ya’ạqov’s worry was justified. Lavan pursued him with the band of all his brothers and caught up with him (as Pharaoh would later pursue the Children of Israel whom he had momentarily agreed to release). It was only the intervention of God in Lavan’s dream that saved Ya’ạqov. Such a pattern of divine intervention already appeared in the story of Avimelekh, and would still return in the story of Bil’ạm (Balaam).

Through the influence of the dream, Lavan was ready to give up on the cattle and on his daughters and his grandchildren, but not on his idols. But Raḥel, the thief of the images, also stole the mind of her father, assumed an image of “dweller of tents”, and outwitted her father, the senior swindler.

Undoubtedly, there is a reason that the Bible lengthens the case of the theft of the images by Raḥel. The beloved, more earthly, wife is the one who brought in the idol to the camp of the Shekhinah, and thereby repeated a motive from the story of Adam, Eve and the Tree of Knowledge of good and evil.

In the story of the Tree of Knowledge we explained that the sin there was in taking a part off the whole, the desired part that gives immediate gratification, namely: the fruit.

But this is also the nature of Ạvodah Zara – idolatry. In what is Avodah Zara different from the worship of the One God Who includes Everything? In that the Idol represents the part that is required immediately: be it Fertility, Power or the like.

Raḥel – the Preferred Wife – would be repeating the deed of Ḥavah-Eve, the First Woman.

The way of Women

Rivqah managed to cover the conning of Yiẓḥaq by Ya’ạqov, and Raḥel managed to hide the stealing of the idolons by her saying “the way of women is upon me” (31:35).

The idolons (Terafim, possibly associated with “Tera-Forms”) thus entered with Ya’ạqov’s entourage into the Land of Canaan. In the next parashah (chapter 35), it is told that when the sons of Ya’ạqov approached Bet-El, still before the death of Raḥel, “And they gave to Ya’ạqov all the strange gods which were in their hand, and all their earings which were in their ears; and Ya’ạqov hid them undre the Terebinth (Elah)[15] which was by Shekhem” (35:4).

The “strange gods” or Idolons, were buried, but not destroyed. After many years, when Moses would see the golden calf that the Children of Israel made from their gold earings (Exodus 32:3): “And he took the calf which they had made, and burnt it in the fire, and ground it to powder, and scattered it upob the water, and made the children of Yisra’el drink of it” (Exodus 32:20). Contrary to this, the strange gods/ idolons of the House of Lavan, those buried “under the Elah” (Terebinth and/or “goddess”), they may still re-emerge and be revealed at nights of the cult of the goddess/earth, when the moon – Levanah – becomes full. Like the moon, the Woman has her monthly cycles; but the menstrual blood cycle is red, compared with the white lunar cycle.

(It is possible to question Raḥel’s saying to her father that “the way of women is upon me”. From the association of passages it is very likely that Raḥel was already in the pregnancy of Binyamin, because a short while after their entry to the land, even before the return to Ḥevron, she bore Binyamin on the way of Ephrata).
The Third Stone

At this stage, after the reconciliation of Ya’ạqov with Lavan, there descended upon Ya’ạqov sufficient power to take a stone and raise it as a pillar, “and Ya’ạqov took a stone, and set it up for a pillar”. But this time, Ya’ạqov is not alone. Having erected the one stone, he calls “his brothers” to collect more stones for the monument. It seems from the context that these are sons and not real brothers, and perhaps this also refers to the brothers of Lavan, whom he took to fight against Ya’ạqov (31:23). The expression “brothers” as friends of all sorts, already appears with Ya’ạqov’s first meeting with the shepherds of Ḥaran. Ya’ạqov addressed them as “My brethren, where are you from?” (29:4). Now, when the issue is the building of the common monument, the brotherhood returns.

It is possible that the story of the three stones in this parashah came just to teach us about building the House of God, and therefore there is need for twelve brothers (or perhaps eleven brothers, who were present then, and their father) to build the memorial, the stone mound that serves for testimony, “there the tribes used to go up, the tribes of the Lord, a testimony for Yisra’el” (Ps. 122:4). And again, nowadays we know about ancient stone circles that stand at the Golan and the Gil’ad (as in Western Europe and in practically almost anywhere in the world) that served as the most ancient temples. In building the stones monument by Ya’ạqov and his sons/brothers, there also started the process of “He set the bounds of the people / according to the number of the children of Israel” (Deuteronomy 32:8).

Ya’ạqov and the Angels

In the last verses of the parasha there is added an enchanting detail. After the marking of the boundary for Ya’ạqov’s domain and drawing a covenant of peace with Lavan with the rituals of erecting the stones monument and having a sacrificial feast, and after transforming the billigenrant parties into brothers, then there appeared angels within Ya’ạqov’s domain of peace. “And Ya’ạqov went on his way and angels of God mrt him. And when Ya’ạqov saw them, he said, This is God’s camp, and he called the name of that place Maḥanayim (“Twin Camps/Bands”)” (32:2-3). These angels would serve him in the attempt to reconcile with his brother Ẹsav.

Summary

The Rectifications of Ya’ạqov, of Le’ah and Raḥel – and for Yisra’el.

The late Rebbe of Ḥabad often recalled that all that needs to be prepared for the Redemption has already been done, and today we have nothing left for it but “The Rectification of the Heal” – Tiqqun ha’Ạqev. What on earth could this mean? In the following we present our opinion about this:

This “Rectification of the Sole (Soul?)” – Tiqqun ha’Ạqev – obviousely reminds of Ya’ạqov – the brother who exited the womb and his hand holding the heel (heal?) of his brother. The name Ya’ạqov is also connected with cheating – Ọqva – as expressly said by Ẹsav: “Is not he rightly named Ya’ạqov? For he supplanted me (vaya’Ạqbeni) these two times” (27:36). Ya’ạqov took the croocked ways – darke Ọqva – indecent. We use this word root also in the context of a warrior or victime who is stained with blood – Ạquv miDam.

The business of Rectification – Tiqqun – is well familiar from the Qabbalah and is expressly connected with the heroines of the parashah, namely Raḥel and Le’ah. The Mequbalim are used to pray at midnight and perform through this “The Rectification of Raḥel” – Tiqqun Raḥel – and “The Rectification of Le’ah – Tiqqun Le’ah. These procedures are based on the book Eẓ Ḥayim (“Tree of Life”) written by Rabbi Ḥayim Vital, which attributes supernal entities to these two women: “Raḥel” is the Shekhinah, the Earthly (or manifest) abode of God, and “Le’ah” is “The Supernal Shekhinah”, the Heavenly Abode (or the Heavenly Mother), between which there shuttle the supernal entities of Ze’ẹr Anpin – “The Small Face of God” – and of “Ya’ạqov” (see Appendix “A”). The strugglings of Ya’ạqov between his two wives, and their own struggling, which are described in the parashah, provide an earthly example for the celestial drama of the Rectification of the Cosmic Female – Tiqqun ha’Nuqbah. The concept of “the healing of the heel” (Tikkun ha’Ạqev) thus raises thee possibility of a need for renewal and rectification for Israel an appropriate process of “Tiqqun Ya’ạqov” – rectification of Jacob.

What is the “The Heel of Israel” in our times, and what rectification/healing does it require?

“The healing of the Heel” makes a direct association with the classical “Achiles’ Heel”, namely the weakest point[16]. This well known image gives us some fertile clues for a possible answer.

What has clung to the heals of Ya’ạqov through the centuries and millenia of his strugglings with Ẹsav?

It seems as if from the moment that Ya’ạqov held to the heel of his twin brother Ẹsav, each one of them carries also a “spectre”, or a “virtual image”of the other. The plot became increasingly entangled in the last two thousand years. Each time that a Christian child was baptised to the covenant of Jesus – the original Judeo-Christian – also a Jewish point stuck with him. Western civilization is built with an inseparable compound of the Judeao-Christian teachings.

Ya’ạqov who takes pain between his wives Raḥel and Le’ah, is also the symbol of the universal human who for millenia struggles hard between the Matter (Raḥel) and the Spirit (Le’ah). He is attracted to the beautiful looks and figure of Raḥel, but his prime potency is given to Le’ah and not to Raḥel. His primary desire, which raises in him immense powers, is to Raḥel, but in the end he stays with Le’ah and not with Raḥel, and even his burial would be at Le’ah’s side.

Ya’ạqov, the simple man who dwells in tents is attracted in the open to Raḥel. But in the darkness of the tent, he is attracted to Le’ah who stands, as noted, for the Sefirah Binah. Le’ah with her six sons and one daughter parallels the Binah from whence issued the Sefirot as the six days of creation and the one Shabbat – and thus she parallels the first Creation Story.[17]

In the historic-spiritual heritage of the people of Isral, being largely the heritage of the exile, Ya’ạqov remained by the side of Le’ah – the learning and thinking; and not by the side of Raḥel – the action and the passion/formation (Yeẓer-Yeẓirah). The Rectification that Ya’ạqov strove for all his life, was to rest by the side of Raḥel, to enjoy with her in her earthly paradise, and not just in a spiritual heaven of Le’ah-Binah.

The Prophet’s Attitude towards Ya’ạqov

Above, we have treated Ya’ạqov in a fairly critical manner. The sages tend to justify Ya’ạqov in every thing, and whoever grows with the Midrash is one who “He has not beheld iniquity in Ya’ạqov” (Numbers 23:21), and will resist accepting such a critical view. To gain a more balance perspective, it is worth looking at Hoshea (ch. 12:5-7, -12), which seems to lead in the critical direction.

“The Lord has also a controversy with Yehudah, and will punish Ya’ạqov according to his ways: according to his doings he will recompense him. He took his brother by the heel in the womb, and by his strength he strove with God. And he strove with an angel, and prevailed. He wept and made supplication to him; he would find him at Bet-El… Indeed Gil’ad is iniquitous they are become mere vanity; in Gilgal they had sacrificed bullocks, their altars are like droppings on the furrow of the field. And Ya’ạqov fled into the country of Aram, and Yisra’el served for a wife, and for a wife he kept sheep”.

Ya’ạqov-Yisra’el’s Fullfilment of the 1st Commandment to Abraham

The return of Ya’ạqov to the land that would be called in the future “The Land of Israel” fullfils some of the commandments given to the forefathers. Abraham was commanded, “Get thee out of thy country, and from thy kindred, and from thy father’s house, to the land that I will show thee” (Gen. 12:1). But if we examine it well, we find that Abrahm did not fullfil entirely during his life all that he was first commanded, and left to the other forefathers to fullfil it completely. Abraham entered the Land of Kena’ạn and saw whatever he did at the Ạqedah, but he did not completely left “his kindred and father’s house” and sent his servant Eliẹzer to bring a wife to his son from his kindred.

Also Yiẓḥaq did not leave his kindred and sent his son Ya’ạqov back to the house of his mother’s brother. That way Ya’ạqov was brought back to the town of Teraḥ and Naḥor, Abraham’s father and brother, back to the place that Abraham started from, and it is Ya’ạqov who would make the full passage – “Get thee out of thy country, and from thy kindred, and from thy father’s house, to the land that I will show thee”. It is only the return of the children of Ya’ạqov-Yisra’el to the Land that is the completefullfilment of the commandment to Abraham and through him also to Yiẓḥaq and to Ya’ạqov. What did God show to Ya’ạqov and what did he see? He saw in his dream the promised land as the place of connecting heaven and earth, the place for the descent of angels and the r(a)ising towards God. According to the Midrash, the three forefathers saw the future temple in different forms. Abraham saw it as a mountain (with a cloud tethered to it), Yiẓḥaq saw it as a field (or divine garden) and Ya’ạqov saw it as a house – “this is no other than the house of God, and this is the gate of heaven” – that is, the building serves as gate (or a system of gates) to heaven.

And while discussing building, there is much significance to stones. The first action done by Ya’ạqov (who now has to be practical – ma’ạsi – just like his brother Ẹsav) “And Ya’ạqov rose up early in the morning, and took the stone that he had put under his head, and set it up for a pillar (maẓevah), and poured oil on the top[ of it. And he called the name of the place Bet-el (House of God)…” (28:18-19. Ya’ạqov made there a condition with God, and in his return to the Land of Israel he completes the passage that was started by Abraham, “Lekh lekha.. ” – “get thee out”. His return to that first stone is the fullfilment of the promise and the covenant and the stone is a a cue to the promise connected with a fourth stone.

Ya’ạqov’s Fourth Stone

The first stone that Ya’ạqov erected teaches about the gathering of the stones of the field and their joining (or crystalizing) into one stone (a bit like the vision of the joining of the dry stones in Exekiel 37). The second stone is the mental weight that needs to be removed from the mouth of the well of living waters, a simile to the Torah and even the Divinity. The third stone was a bourder marking that could be crossed only in peace. All these can be understood as instructions for the future building of the Temple.

But since even sacred stones come in the Torah in the patterrn of “Three and Four” (as we’ve noted (and is a pattern that is found even in the most sacred – the Tetragrammaton or “Name of HaWaYaH” that is of four letters that are three different letters and one that repeats). But this fourth stone must wait till the name (and hence the personality) of Ya’ạqov hs changed to “Yisra’el” (Israel). This is Even Yisra’el – “The Stone of Israel” – which is mentioned in the chapter befor last of Genesis (49:22-24) in Ya’ạqov’s blessing to his beloved son Yoseph:

“Yosef is a fruitful bough, a fruitful bough by a well; whose branches run over thw wall. The archers fiercely attacked him, and shot at him, and hated him. Bur his bow abode in strength, and the arms of his hand were made suppleby the hands of the mighty Gos of Ya’ạqov – from hence from the shepherd, the Stone of Yisra’el (misham ro’ẹ even Yisra’el)”

What is the meaning of this mysterious stone and what is its place? Do stones need shephers – or perhaps the Stone is the shepherd? We shall find further cues to the riddle when we study the story of Yoseph and his adventures.

Appendices (not included yet)

“A”: The Relationship of Ya’ạqov Le’ah and Raḥel according to the Eẓ Ḥayim.

“B”: The Tribes According to the Zoher:

The Zoher for vaYetse, about the Tribes.

The Zoher for vaYetse, chapter “When Raḥel bore Yoseph”.

The Zohar for Mishpatim, the Sava deMishpatim on the Children of Israel.

“C”: Ya’ạqov’s spiritual migrations between Le’ah and Rahel.

“D”: The Tribes and their significance for the future.

The 12 Tribes by their order in Jacob’s Ladder and in the circle.

[1] Parashah is a portion of the Penteteuch that is read in the synagogue on Shabbat, followed by a passage from the books of the Prophets. The Penteteuch is divided into 53 Parashot-portions and each Parashah reading on Shabbat (Sabbath) is divided into seven parts, for which people of the congregation are called to the Torah reading stand (Bimah) and the last sentences are repeated by an eighth invited person. The division into Parashot does not necessarily follow the division into chapters. Each Parashah has a name that is based on some word(s) that appear in the first verse of the Parashah. It is common for Jews to relate to a date, and especially the Shabbat, not as a day in the month but as belonging to a week named by the Parashah.

[2] The ARI’zl (Rabbi Yiẓḥaq Luria, the most important master of Qabbalah) compares in this context Ḥaran to Garon (throat), a narrow place where the voice gets cramped (“and the voice is Ya’ạqov’s voice”). In the following, we shall see clearly that Ya’ạqov was indeed pushed there and was subjected there to hard labor.

[3] The six chapters of the tractatus are detailed and painstakingly numbered by a decimal fractal method, namely: each chapter contains 10 subchapters that may each be broken to ten divisions and so on. Such a scheme is fairly common in the Qabbalah to describe the ten Sefirot.

[4] These four letter names are written here from left-to-right, as in English, so to corespond with the English transliterations. The proper direction of Hebrew words in Hebrew texts is, of course, from right-to-left.

[5] In Hebrew, the earth is not “it” but “her”, and the feminine character is pronounced in this verse.

[6] In the same parashah in which we read about the vision of Ya’ạqov’s ladder, we also read about abundant fertility: four wives, eleven sons and one daughter, and thousands of sheep and goats, and this is not yet all. The great fertility in the exile, which is the beginning of the Bok of Exodus, is already found at Ya’ạqov’s exile at parashat va’Yeẓe.

[7] We might also add here the Hejira – the migration of the prophet of the Children of Yisma’el from Mecca. According to Islamic traditions, Yishma’el lived at Mecca, from whence Mohammed had an experience of a heavenly ascent to and through Jerusalem (and through steps – Al-Mi’araj – that recall somewhat the ladder vision of Ya’ạqov). Mohammed too had to ‘get out of his country, and from his kindred, and from his father’s house’, in order to fulfill his mission. As long as he stayed in his hometown, Mecca, surrounded by the people of his tribe, there was not that much impression by his revelations, as is said “there is no prophet in his own town”. Only after he migrated (like Abraham) from Mecca to Medinah, his mission and religion became established. Only after an exile of eight years arrived Mohammad’s hour to return triumphantly to Mecca and to establish there the sacred center of Islam, in conjunction with a special and long-sanctified black stone embedded in the wall of the shrine of the Ka’aba in Mecca. And thus, the black stone was added to the story of Ya’ạqov’s stones.

[8] We may note here just the civil war in 15th century England, “The War of the Roses” between the Red Rose of the House of Stuart and the White Rose of the House of Tudor, and the civil war in Russia at the beginning f the 20th century, between “The Red Army” and “The White Army” – as well as between The Red Queen and The White Queen in “Alice in Wonderland”.

[9] But may note another thing about Lavan – he is referred by the Hebrew Bible as ha’Arami – “the Aramite” – which gives a hint, associating him, through word game, with Rama’i – a swindler.

[10] In the Hebrew Bible, the word Mate – rod – is used often to refer to a tribe. We shall be able to appreciate the full significance of this simile when we discuss the tribes and the Tree of Life

[11] Each of the tribes is associated with another permutation of the letters of the Tetragrammaton of YHWH. Since there are two H’es, there are only 12 (and not 24) permutations of these letters. This subject will be explained more later.

[12] In the sequel, in Parashat vaYishlaḥ, we shall survey the story of “the kings that reigned in the land of Edom, before there reigned any king over the children of Yisra’el” (Gen. 36:31), and find that a constant destiny of death ends when there appears a woman: “and Hadar reigned… and his wife’s name was Mehetav’el, daghter of Matred, daghtewr of Me-zahav” (36:39); thew only one of the eight kings whose death is not mentioned in this chronicle.

[13] We shall return to discuss the nature of these worlds in the exegesis for the next parashah, concerning the ancient kings who reigned in the Land of Edom.

[14] This name results from the Miluy-“Filling” – of the Name of YHWH in the letters of Y’od H’eh W’aw H’eh (יוד-הה-וו-הה, read here from left to right), which has gematric value of 52 (exactly twice that of the root name YHWH.)

[15] The Koren Jerusalem Bible (mis)translates the word Elah – Terebinth or, literally “Goddess” as “Oak” (which should be in Hebrew Alon). It thus gives a doubtful hint about this Makom being at Abraham’s initial altar, but misses the hint about burying it “under (the Tree of) the Goddess”.

[16] Achiles, the great Greek hero, was baptised in his infancy in a vessel of special water that impregnated his skin from any injury, and he was invulnerable apart from one point – the heal area where he was held during this baptism.

[17] The first Creation story (Gen. chapter 1) is associated with the name of Elohim. As we saw, the Zohar shows ELoHIM as containing the words MI-ELeH (or “Who?” And “These”), and indeed, the name Le’aH is permutated from the word ELeH (these) – and ElaH – goddess).

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