Yaakov dreams of a ladder connecting heaven and earth, a presage of his Israeli task, on his way to Aram. God promises Israel to his seed (not Yishmael's or Esav's), a source of universal blessing. Yaakov promises to make the site God's house, should he return whole, in both body and soul.

CH. 29: Poor Yaakov falls in love with cousin Rachel at first sight, and begins working for Lavan. 7 years later, he's earned Rachel, but Lavan substitutes less appealing Leah, in history's first recorded shotgun wedding. Shocked Yaakov then makes a deal to get Rachel too, with 7 years of labor, as his I.O.U. Leah felt despised and the Merciful One blessed her with 4 sons; then, childless Rachel got nervous and gave Yaakov her handmaid, Bilha, who gave him 2 sons. Leah did likewise, then had 2 more sons herself, and Dina. Rachel finally bore Yosef- Yaakov's signal to return home. God helps Yaakov defeat Lavan's schemes, as he works for flocks and a lift to send back to Israel. Lavan's sons get jealous of his wealth and God confirms it's time to depart (cf. Germany 1930, U.S. TODAY). His wives agreed and they skipped town; Lavan followed in hot pursuit, but was warned by God to leave Yaakov alone. They had a tense scene when Lavan caught up with Yaakov, but finally made a covenant. A band of angels welcomed Yaakov back to Israel (much nicer than B.G. Passport Control).

THE HAFTORA, HOSEA 12:13-15, 13:1-14:10, stresses the modest beginnings of Yaakov, who fled from Lavan, surviving only with God's help; so would the Jews later survive Egypt. Ephraim is castigated for trusting in his own abilities and allies for his salvation (cf. Israel today).

YAAKOV IN VAYETZE, Gen. 28:10- 32:3, the saga of Yaakov's long exile and final escape, a prelude and model for Israel's Diaspora.

Alfonso V of Portugal's Jewish treasurer, Don Y Abarbanel, held many important posts in Spain and Italy; he was also a great Torah scholar- may Henry Kissinger and Israeli rabbis and politicians emulate him! He divides our portion into 3 parts: Yaakov's journey, his formation of family and business with Lavan, and his return. Only Yaakov dreams of a ladder connecting heaven and earth- it must relate to his situation, fleeing from Esav, poor and alone, as so many of his descendants in later exiles; he's not sure of realizing his father's blessing, obtained by deceit. God thus shows him that He'll protect him; he'll return to Israel; his descendants will receive Av's convenant- that his seed multiply, that they inherit Israel, and that they restore God's Presence to mankind from Jerusalem. He asks his readers to judge between his and 8 earlier expositions, e.g. Rashi and Midrash; he rejects them, despite their antiquity- they fail to relate the dream to Yaakov's unique situation.

Maimonides (Guide) sees the symbolic dream as teaching Yaakov metaphysical realities; if so, says Abarbanel, God would educate Yaakov while awake, in a comfortable setting. Dreams only enlighten imagination and prophecy, not intellect; so R. Yehuda says (Eruv. 65a) that nights are made for sleeping (but Resh Lakish says the moon is made for learning, today's generally accepted view). Perhaps R. Yehuda posits that daytime is best suited for clear systematic intellectual pursuits, obscure night for imagination exercises.

YAAKOV, DETERMINED MAN OF ACTION: Yaakov's obtaining of the firstborn priesthood and Y's blessing begins his career as an activist; he no longer just learns and prays (R. Hadari; test one, who claims to only rely on God, not fighting evil, by removing $10 from his pocket- see what he does- cf. Tzahal & Satmar). Y may have sent him off without money (Mid. Rab.), to force him to prove his claims to equal Esav in self- reliance, thus deserving the physical blessings.

BULLETS, BABIES, AND EDUCATION: Only Patriarch Yaakov has 12 Jewish sons, besides daughters; this itself may make him today's model father. Everyday, Arab masses plot and attempt the destruction of Israel. Even if we can keep ahead weapons wise, we cannot long perpetuate a nation as a minority. The burden of military defense falls primarily on the male; the greatest female contribution is to raise large Jewish Israeli families. Yeshiva students have to forfeit some of their studies for military service; so women have to sometimes deemphasize careers and "the good life" to raise many children. If secular women do not want a charedi and Arab Israel, they must revolutionize their values, become family oriented. Israeli aesthetics must not mimic the west, stressing external beauty- clothes, house, and car. Divine Human Internal Beauty should be Israel's ideal. A weekend article on a beautiful family is far more meaningful than the latest fashions or abstract paintings. Raise women to be women, if they and Israel are to survive. Greater aid must be given to help Jews bear and raise many children. National service, both military and fecundatory, must be encouraged in every way.

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