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26 Old Mill Road, Great Neck, NY 11023 (516) 487-6100                                                                Shabbat Announcements Ki Teitzei 5781
         run. This is how the Torah describes Jacob’s feelings for   Reuben and Simeon. (Gen. 48:5) Later in the same chapter,
         Rachel: Jacob loved Rachel and said, “I’ll work for you   he says: “I am about to die; but God will be with you and
         (Laban) seven years in return for your younger daughter   bring you back to the land of your fathers. And now, I
         Rachel.” So Jacob served seven years for Rachel, but they   assign you one portion more than to your brothers, which I
         seemed like only a few days to him because of his love for   wrested from the Amorites with my sword and bow” (Gen.
         her…And Jacob cohabited with Rachel also; indeed, he loved  48:21-22). There are many interpretations of this verse,
         Rachel more than Leah. And he served him (Laban) another  but according to Rashi, “This refers to the birthright, that
         seven years. (Genesis 29:18-30) And this is its description   Joseph’s children should receive two portions when Canaan
         of the impact it had on Leah: When the Lord saw that Leah   would be divided amongst the tribes.” Jacob’s other children
         was hated, He enabled her to conceive, but Rachel remained  would receive one portion, while Joseph would receive two,
         childless. Leah conceived and bore a son, and named him   one for each of his sons Ephraim and Manasseh.
         Reuben; for she declared, “It means: ‘The Lord has seen my
         affliction’; it also means: ‘Now my husband will love me.’”   It is against this practice that the law in our parsha is
         She conceived again and bore a son, and declared, “This is   directed. That is what is extraordinary. Jacob/Israel is the
         because the Lord heard that I was hated and has given me   father of our people. But specifically in this respect, his
         this one also,” so she named him Simeon. (Gen. 29:31-33)   conduct must not be taken as a precedent. We are
                                                              forbidden to act as he did. The Torah is not telling us that
         I have translated the word senuah here as “hated” simply to  Jacob did wrong. There are all sorts of explanations that
         give a sense of the shock of the text as it is in Hebrew. We   reconcile his behavior with later law. Jacob did not keep the
         also understand why this word is used. Leah was, as the   Torah except in the land of Israel (Ramban), and his gift of
         text says, loved less than Rachel. Jacob did not hate her,   a double portion to Joseph happened in Egypt. We are
         but she felt hated, because less loved, thus unloved. This   forbidden to transfer the birthright on grounds of love
         feeling dominated her marriage as we see in the names she   alone, but we may do so if we believe that the firstborn has
         gave her eldest children. The rivalry continues and   significant character deficiencies, which Jacob believed to be
         intensifies in the next generation: When his brothers saw   true of Reuben (Gen. 49:3-4; Abarbanel).
         that their father loved him (Joseph) more than any of his
         brothers, they hated him and could not speak a peaceful   But the law is telling us something very profound indeed.
         word to him. (Genesis 37:4) Less loved, the brothers felt   Love is the highest of emotions. We are commanded to love
         hated, and so they hated the more loved Joseph. Love   God with all our heart, soul and might. But it is also, in
         generates conflict, even though none of the parties want   family contexts, fraught with danger. Love ruined Jacob’s
         conflict. Jacob didn’t hate Leah or her sons or the sons of   life, time and again: in his relationship with Esau (Isaac
         the handmaids. He did not deliberately decide to love Rachel   loved Esau, Rebecca loved Jacob), in the relationship
         and later Joseph. Love doesn’t work like that. It happens to   between Leah and Rachel, and in the relationship between
         us, usually not of our choosing. Yet those outside the   Joseph and his brothers. Love brings joy. It also brings
         relationship can feel excluded and unloved. This feels like   tears. It brings some people close, but makes others feel
         being hated. The Torah uses the word senuah to tell us how   distanced, rejected. Therefore, says the Torah, in our
         serious the feeling is. It is not enough to say “I love you   command: when love is likely to be the cause of conflict, it
         too,” when every act, every word, every look says, “I love   must take second place to justice. Love is partial, justice is
         someone else more.”                                  impartial. Love is for someone specific; justice is for
                                                              everyone. Love brings personal satisfaction; justice brings
         Which brings us to inheritance. Joseph was the eleventh of   social order.
         Jacob’s twelve sons, but the firstborn of Jacob’s beloved
         Rachel. Jacob proceeded to do what our parsha tells us not   Judaism is the most effective attempt in history to provide
         to do. He deprived Reuven, his and Leah’s firstborn, of the   the proper balance between the particular and the
         birthright, the double portion, and gave it instead to Joseph.   universal. It is both. It worships the universal God by way
         To Joseph he said: Now, your two sons, who were born to   of a particular faith. It believes in a universal connection
         you in the land of Egypt before I came to you in Egypt, shall   between God and humanity – we are all in God’s image
         be mine; Ephraim and Manasseh shall be mine no less than    (Gen. 1:27) – and a particular one – “My child, My firstborn,
                                                              Israel” (Ex. 4:22). It believes in a universal covenant with
                                                              Noah, and a particular one, with Abraham and later the
                              Great Neck Synagogue            Israelites. So, it believes in the universality of justice and
                     26 Old Mill Road, Great Neck , NY 11023   the particularity of love and the importance of both. When it
                                  516-487-6100                comes to the relationship between humans, there is an
                                                              order of priority. First create justice, then express love. For
                         Rabbi Dale Polakoff, Rabbi           if we let those priorities be reversed, allowing injustice in
                      Rabbi Ian Lichter, Assistant Rabbi      the name of love, we will divide and destroy families and
                   Rabbi Yehoshua Lefkowitz, Intern Rabbi     groups and suffer the consequences for a long time. A
                    Dr. Ephraim Wolf, z”l, Rabbi Emeritus
                           Yitzy Spinner, Cantor              seemingly minor law about inheritance is in fact a major
                    Eleazer Schulman, z”l, Cantor Emeritus    statement of Jewish values. I believe that Judaism got it
                     Rabbi Sholom Jensen, Youth Director      right by placing love at the heart of the religious life – love
                  Zehava & Dr. Michael Atlas, Youth Directors   of God, neighbor and stranger – but at the same time
                      Mark Twersky, Executive Director        recognizing that without justice, love will not save us. It
                     Dr. James Frisch, Assistant Director     may even destroy us.
                          Jordan Wolf, President
                     Dov Sassoon, Chairman of the Board
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