27/28 Nov : Parsha Vayishlach

Shabbat comes in 3.43pm; goes out 4 .50pm   __________________________________________________________________________                                                              “Looking up, Jacob saw Esau coming, accompanied by four hundred men. He divided the children among Leah, Rachel and the two maids, putting the maids and their children first, Leah and her children next, and Rachel and Joseph last. He himself went on ahead and bowed low to the ground seven times until he was near his brother. Esau ran to greet him. He embraced him, falling on his neck, he kissed him, and they wept.”  (Genesis 33:1-4)

Jacob is still dividing instead of uniting, although the meeting with Esau is putting him on a better path for the future. My colleague Rabbi Edward Feinstein writes poignantly about what led up to this division of the family: “Two  brothers. One blessing. Who told Father Isaac that he had but one blessing to bestow upon his sons? Who told him that blessings must be hierarchical,  setting one brother over the other, declaring one the victor and the other a loser ?

Two brothers. One blessing. This is the dark side of monotheism. Monotheism can bear two very different interpretations. The belief in one God can yield two different worlds. A monotheism of exclusion imagines one God who belongs to me and not you. One truth that is ours and not theirs. One world gifted to us, and not to them. This brand of monotheism offers blessing to one brother, and subjugation, exile and death to all others.

Genesis vehemently protests this. God is not so small, so narrow, so parochial as your fear and hatred. Genesis offers a radically different religious vision, a monotheism of inclusion – a God of all. God is creator of all. Not just our tribe and our kind, but all. And more radically ,  all are created in the image of God. Everyone bears the divine within.”

Shabbat Shalom,

Rabbi Paul Arberman

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November 27, 2015