Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Vayetze summary


Ya'akov (Jacob) departs from Be'er Sheva, fleeing from his brother, to seek a wife in Charan. He stops to sleep on the way and dreams of a ladder stretching from the earth to the heavens, with angels descending and ascending. G-d stands at the top of the ladder and blesses Ya'akov that He will guard and protect him while he is with Lavan. Ya'akov awakens and names the place Beth-El. He sets up an altar as a witness to the promises that G-d made to him.
Ya'akov continues to Charan and finds the local shepherds at a well. They are unable to water their flocks, because the rock covering the mouth of the well is too heavy for them to lift individually. Rachel comes with her sheep. When Ya'akov sees her he single-handedly rolls the rock off the well. Rachel runs to tell her father Lavan, who comes to greet Ya'akov. Lavan brings Ya'akov into his house, and hires him as a shepherd. Ya'akov agrees to work for seven years in order to marry Rachel. After the seven years, Lavan tricks Ya'akov by substituting Leah, Rachel's older sister, in her place. When Ya'akov realises that he has been tricked, he agrees to work for another seven years for Rachel. Lavan also gives Bilhah and Zilpah to Ya'akov as handmaids.
Leah gives birth to Reuven, Shimon, Levi and Yehudah. Rachel sees that she is barren, and gives Bilhah to Ya'akov in her stead. Bilhah gives birth to Dan and Naftali. Leah gives Zilpah to Ya'akov, and she has Gad and Asher. Reuven finds some mandrakes (a fertility drug) which he brings to his mother. Rachel buys them from her sister in exchange for her spending the night with Ya'akov. Leah has two more sons, Yissachar and Zevulun, and a daughter, Dina. Finally Rachel gives birth to Yosef.
After the birth of Yosef, Ya'akov asks Lavan for permission to return to his home. Lavan convinces him to stay and earn himself a flock of sheep. Lavan separates all the sheep with any white on them. Ya'akov is to have all the mottled and speckled sheep that are born. Ya'akov uses trees with the bark peeled off to encourage the sheep to have coloured lambs. Miraculously all of the sheep are born speckled from then on, and Ya'akov becomes wealthy.
Ya'akov sees Lavan's sons becoming jealous of his wealth, and decides to return to Padan Aram. Lavan hears that he has left and pursues him. G-d appears to Lavan, and tells him not to attempt to harm Ya'akov. Lavan bids his daughters and grandchildren farewell, and accuses Ya'akov of having stolen his teraphim (idols). Ya'akov does not realise that Rachel has taken them, and declares that whoever has taken them shall die. Lavan does not find his teraphim, and returns empty handed. He and Ya'akov set up a monument of their pact of non-beligerence. After Lavan leaves, Ya'akov encounters a camp of angels and calls the place Machanaim.

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