Thursday, 04 Dec 2008

Written by Kate Briggs

Following on from last week’s parashah when Jacob deceives Esau of his birthright, this parashah seems to start on a positive note: And Jacob went out from Beer-sheva (Gen. 28:10).  It seems so pleasant, so innocuous. But we know that Jacob is fleeing from his home, not just wandering around, having a great comforting dream, finding a wife, meeting up with his kinsfolk. On closer examination all is not what it seems. Jacob’s wanderings are not the same as the wanderings and ac-complishments of his grandfather Abraham and father Isaac and the divine prom-ises made to them. Whilst God does repeat his traditional promise of posterity and land, gives Jacob reassurances that He will protect him and make sure he returns to the land of his birth, Jacob appears insecure—not surprising given his circum-stances!  Two things are noticeable about this passage. Firstly, this is clearly a pas-sage about encounter, not re-assurance; the dream-vision is a means to emphasise the magnitude of the encounter. Secondly, there is Jacob’s vow, the conditional element of which is troublesome for many of the commentators.

The views expressed in this D’var Torah do not necessarily reflect the position of Leo Baeck College.