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    Strong-arm Jacob – Vayyetzei

    Jacob & Rachel at the well, by James Tissot, c. 1896

    From last week’s portion we get the impression that Esau was the strong one and Jacob was a studious home-loving young man who was probably something of a weakling.

    Where was the muscle-power? Not in Jacob.

    Yet what do we find this week?

    There is a well which is blocked by a stone. The maidens have no way of moving the stone to get water for the sheep. Along comes Jacob.

    “Jacob went near,” we now read, “and rolled the stone from the mouth of the well, and watered the flock” (Gen. 29:8-10).

    True, his chivalry got him a wife, but where did he derive the physical strength to move the stone?

    There is an interpretation that links the episode with the final verse in Micah, Titten emet l’Ya’akov – “You give truth to Jacob” (Mic. 7:20).

    When a person is armed with emet (“truth”) they can do miraculous things. The power of a belief drives them on to victory, even over apparently impossible odds.

    Emet is the initial letters of the names Iyyov, Mishlei, T’hillim – “Job, Proverbs, Psalms”, which may suggest that the wisdom of these books is a strong defence.

    Another possibility is that Emet is the initials of Emunah, Musar, Torah – “Faith, Ethics, Torah”: another wonderful armoury.

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