One of the most perplexing aspects of the lives of the patriarchs and matriarchs is that they seem so mundane and ordinary, and none more so than Jacob as featured in Parshat Vayetzei, the portion which describes his life in Haran.
We are informed of Jacob’s abrupt arrival; an incident at the well; his negotiations with Laban to marry Rachel; his unexpected marriage to her sister Leah; his marriage to the concubines; the birth of his children; his fraught business relationship with Laban; and his sudden departure back home.
What is the point of all these stories about the founding father of the Jewish nation? Do we really need to know about these aspects of his life? And do we need to know about the similar experiences of his father’s and grandfather’s lives? Surely there were many others in that era who had similar experiences, in one way or another?
Rabbi Dunner unpacks the stories of the patriarchs, and particularly Jacob, using key ideas and significant moments to shed a totally new light on the ordinary lives of these extraordinary people.
Image: “Jacob’s Ladder” by Wenceslas Hollar (1607-1677)