Rabbi Robert Harris, associate professor of Bible, JTS
The opening verses of this week's parashah recount Jacob's decision, upon returning home after 20 years of "living abroad," to get in touch with his brother, Esau. You may remember that they-ahem!-had not parted on the best of terms (see Gen. 25:27-34 and especially Gen. 27:1-41 for the gritty details). At the beginning of the parashah, it is not yet clear to what extent Jacob is motivated by fear, by friendliness, by craftiness-or by some combination of these and potentially other concerns. Let us read the first two verses of the portion:
Jacob sent messengers ahead to his brother Esau in the land of Seir, the country of Edom, and instructed them as follows: "Thus shall you say: 'To my lord Esau, thus says your servant Jacob: "I stayed with Laban and remained until now."'" (Gen. 32:4-5)
I would like us to focus on the phrase "I stayed with Laban" (literally, "with Laban have I sojourned"). The Hebrew phrase is'im Lavan garti, but for the moment let us think of that last word untranslated, and consider the phrase as "I had been ager." I wish us to think of the words in this way because that is how Rashi begins his explanation of the passage:
I have sojourned (Heb. garti): I did not become an officer or a dignitary, but a stranger (ger). It is not worthwhile for you to hate me on account of your father's blessing, [with] which he blessed me (Gen. 27:29), "You shall be a master over your brothers," for it was not fulfilled in me.
You see, in this first comment (midrashically derived), Rashi understands the Hebrew verb garti as "I have lived as a sojourner/stranger"-not what the word means according to context, "I stayed / I lived." Note also that Rashi does notapply the Rabbis' typical (aka midrashic) understanding of the biblical Hebrew ger as meaning "convert/proselyte," the meaning of which, of course, cannot apply here.
So, here, Rashi would have us understand the verse as containing Jacob's admission that the material rewards contained in Isaac's blessing-which Jacob had stolen from his brother-did not pan out: Jacob is returning to the Land as he left-a refugee, and one fearful of his brother's (justified) reprisals at that.
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May Their Memories Be For a Blessing
11/14/2013 (11 Kislev)
Dr. Harold Margolis
Harold Joseph Samuels
11/15/2013 (12 Kislev)
Hyman M. Beale
11/16/2013 (13 Kislev)
11/17/2013 (14 Kislev)
11/18/2013 (15 Kislev)
Shirley Lauterstein Taub
11/19/2013 (16 Kislev)
11/20/2013 (17 Kislev)
11/21/2013 (18 Kislev)
11/22/2013 (19 Kislev)
Albert W. Handler
11/24/2013 (21 Kislev)
11/25/2013 (22 Kislev
Liba Malka Ginsberg
11/27/2013 (24 Kislev)
Megan Lewis Graub
11/29/2013 (26 Kislev)
Dr. David Benjamin Levy
11/30/2013 (27 Kislev)
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Caring Community Information
Refuah Sh'leimah/Wishing a Speedy Recovery.
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TIKKUN OLAM/Repair the World
MITZVAH DAY 2013: December 25th
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Friday, November 15th
6 p.m. Minha/Kabbalat Shabbat/Maariv, Sanctuary
Saturday, November 16th
9 a.m. Services, Sanctuary
10 a.m., Supervised Youth Activities Room 3 for ages 12 and under.
Kiddush Lunch today is sponsored by the Kiddush Lunch Fund.
SHABBAT SHIUR FUTURE DATES
11/29, 12/28, 1/25, 2/22, 3/29, 5/10, 6/21.
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Upcoming Youth and Family Activities
Upcoming Shabbat Youth Activities
SHABBAT CHILDREN'S WORKSHOP DATES for youth ages 7-12. 30 minutes of tefilla and parsha fun.
10-10:45 a.m., ROOM 9
Future Dates: DECEMBER 14TH, JANUARY 11TH,
JANUARY 25TH, FEBRUARY 1ST, MARCH 1ST,
APRIL 5th, MAY 3 (10:30 A.M.)
SHABBAT TEEN ACTIVITIES
D'VAR TORAH COCOA CAFE for ages 13-17, 11:00-11:45 a.m., Social Hall
Listen to the D'var Torah in the main sanctuary, then give your take over cocoa and cider. Kiddush lunch following, with Spirited singing and Birkat Hamazon led by teens. e-mail email@example.com for more information.
DECEMBER 14TH, JANUARY 11TH, JANUARY 25TH, FEBRUARY 1ST, MARCH 1ST, APRIL 5TH, MAY 3RD
SHABBAT ACTIVITIES FOR CHILDREN AGES 3-5 COMING SOON!
To stay current on all youth and family activities, contact Ilana Glazier to join the B'nai Israel Families Facebook Group.
American Idol B'nai Israel Synagogue Style
Talent Show featuring B'nai Israel Youth
Saturday, December 14th
6:45 p.m. Havdalah, 7 p.m. Show
|Sisterhood Events |
Where Harry Met Sally: The Jewish Deli in America
Wednesday, November 20th
Hatcher Graduate Library, University of Michigan
e-mail Betsy Wolf
or call: 248-207-0408 if you plan to attend or have further questions.
This event is part of an exhibit co-curated by BI member Avery Robinson: American Foodways, the Jewish Contribution, highlighting Jewish contributions to American Culinary History 1660-2013, including Jewish American Charity Cookbooks from all 50 states. The exhibit runs through December 8th.
NEXT SISTERHOOD MEETING:
Monday, December 9th
7 p.m., TKA/BI Chapel. All are welcome.
For questions regarding sisterhood, e-mail Betsy Wolf @
"Reflections on the Siddur," with Dr. Mitch Parker
Saturdays, 11-11:45 a.m.
November 23 December 7, 14
Mitch will focus on Ashrei, Aleinu, the Kaddish, Adon Olam, Yigdal, Hallel and Birkat Hamazon.
Class meets in the lower level, Room 9.
Shabbat Shiur Series
Shabbat Afternoons, last Saturday of the month following lunch and prior to minha. Shiur (class) will meet in the chapel. All our welcome. There is no charge to attend.
14 Joshua Jacobson
19 Gail Kaye
19 Martin Kurland
19 Shelli Orzach
20 Robert Kimmel
21 Adele Band
22 Belmont Kershenbaum
26 Jerry Knoppow
26 Kayla Pappas
28 Paula Levy
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Upcoming Community Events
and TKA/BI Joint Opportunities
BAGELS AND BASICS
Featuring Debra Darvick: "Eight Teachings for Following your Dreams."
TKA, SUNDAY NOVEMBER 17TH
10:30 A.M., TKA/BI CHAPEL
Knitting has returned!
All stitchers are welcome.
7 p.m., Meet in the TKA/BI Library.
December 4th, January 7th
Music in the Burbs:
The Corn Potato String Band
Sunday, November 24th
8 a.m. - 2 p.m.
Prince of Peace Church, 5300 Green Road
JCC Maccabi Games and ArtsFest 2014
August 17-22 in Detroit!
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B'nai Israel Synagogue is affiliated with USCJ,
United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism.