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    Lifting the feet – Vayyetzei

    walking 2Though the translation reads, “And Jacob proceeded on his way”, the Hebrew words are vayissa Ya’akov raglav – literally, “And Jacob lifted up his feet”.

    According to the sages of the Midrash, the verse means the same as the English phrase, “there was spring in his step”.

    Having been buoyed and reassured by his dream and God’s promise of protection, Jacob was in a state of exhilaration.

    No longer was he afraid of what the future might bring. No longer was he apprehensive that disaster was around the corner. No longer did he fear the worst.

    A different explanation is suggested by a close examination of the verb nasa” “to lift up”.

    It is often used in relation to parts of the body. It frequently accompanies a reference to the eyes, e.g. “Abraham lifted up his eyes” (Gen. 22:4). It comes together with the voice, e.g. “Esau lifted up his voice” (Gen. 27:38). It even comes with the heart, e.g. “Let us lift up our heart” (Echah 3:41).

    In this latter sense it is the origin of the long-running British hymn-singing program, “Lift up your hearts”.

    There is of course a mood of elation in this use of lifting up the heart, even though the original text probably meant something more sombre, i.e. “Let us think seriously”, since the heart in Biblical psychology generally indicates the mind and not necessarily the emotions.

    What all these instances of the verb nasa indicate may therefore be that “to lift up” is a more or less idiomatic way of describing a part of the body starting to function.

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