Vayetze means “and he departed” the “he” being Jacob heading towards Haran. At Haran Jacob has his famous vision of the heavenly ladder before proceeding to dwell with his uncle Laban. This of course sets up the struggle with Jacob wanting Rachel but being forced to marry Leah first and then Rachel as he toils for a total of twenty years. After finally escaping, Jacob finds himself trapped between a deceptive uncle he left behind and a brother who publicly swore to kill him coming towards him with hundreds of armed men.
Toldot means “generations” or “family records,” referring to the lineage of Isaac. The troubled sibling rivalry of Jacob and Esau is the focus here. Jacob will eventually steal Esau’s birthright and blessing before running away. But as crafty as Jacob is he will find his uncle Laban even more deceitful and it is Laban who will outmaneuver Jacob for 20 years before Jacob gains advantage again. We also have the third occurrence—this time with Isaac and Abimelech II—of a wife (Rebecca this time) being passed off as a “sister” because a patriarch was afraid for his life. The portion ends with Esau taking another wife.
Chayei Sarah means “life of Sarah” but ironically it begins with her death! The full meaning actually is “the Life of Sarah WAS.” In the wake of her death, Abraham must find an appropriate place to bury his wife. Ephron the Hittite first offers some land to Abraham for free, but Abraham insists on paying (actually OVERPAYING according to the rabbis) and signing a contract for the land to avoid future strife.
Chapter 24 then gives us the beautiful love story between Isaac and Rebecca. It becomes clear that while Isaac himself gets relatively little attention in Torah compared to his ancestors and descendants, he certainly did very well in the marriage department—Rebecca is in a way his inheritance and treasure. The portion ends with Abraham’s death and a reunion at his funeral with Isaac and Ishmael.
Vayera means “and appeared,” referencing Abba YHWH, appearing to Abraham with two other messengers. The trio brings news that Abraham and Sarah will have a son. Sarah, not believing Abba YHWH, laughs at hearing the pronouncement and then denies she laughed. This is one reason they call their son Yitzchak, “laughter.” Notable here also is that Abraham serves Abba YHWH and His two messengers milk and meat!
After this, we get the dark message of Sodom and Gomorrah’s destruction. Abraham’s nephew Lot and his family must leave immediately to avoid the coming disaster. Also, there is a remarkable “bargaining” session between Abraham and Abba YHWH, as they debate how many righteous souls will spare the entire city. An incident similar to the one where Pharaoh took Sarah happens again with another ruler, with comparable results. The portion ends with the most shocking story of them all, as Abraham is told to kill his son by Abba YHWH Himself!
Lech Lecha means “get yourself out.” It concerns the command Abba YHWH gives Abram to into Canaan and has a lot of great “action” surrounding that main theme. First, move Abram has a bit of an adventure in Egypt when his wife acquired by Pharaoh because Abram said she was his sister! Then Abram had to do some intricate planning to get ahead of a potential family dispute between himself and his nephew Lot. After that a whole bunch of kings go to war around Abram and closer to home Abram is given the second most difficult test of his life and I’m just scratching the surface here…there’s a ton of action I left out here.
Noach refers to Noah, a righteous man whose name means “comfort” or “peace.” Abba YHWH tells Noah He is about to flood all of humanity out of existence except for himself, his wife, their three sons and three daughters in law.
After the Flood, humanity tries to start over but there is still great evil about as Nimrod becomes a great and powerful leader and those (perhaps) under his influence attempt to build a tower to rival heaven, forcing Abba YHWH to confuse human language ever since. The genealogy brings us to the time of Abraham, thus setting up the covenant that is about to happen in the next portion.
I should also note here that Noach is the most calendar intensive portion in my opinion of the entire year. In order to manage that information and to keep things easy to understand and efficient, I have pooled the most important calendar aspects into one basic essay at the end of the Torah linguistics. Keep Reeding
Bereshit means “in the beginning.” We start with the six days of creation with Abba YHWH resting on the Shabbat day and creating Adam and Eve. After their expulsion from paradise, Adam and Eve have two sons, Cain and Abel and the former kills the latter. Afterwards, Cain flees Abba YHWH’s presence, first to Nod and then he goes
build a city. As the human race begins to spread throughout the earth, the first ten generations are recounted and the life of righteous Noah is introduced.
Ha’azinu means “give your ears” or “listen.” It is the opening stanza of Moshe’s last song that he spoke of at the end of the previous portion. Although the language is poetic, the graphic imagery is meant for easy remembrance and its warnings are definitely LITERAL. There is no other poetry done as well in Tanakh except perhaps Job 38-42. Keep Reeding
From hints embedded in Noah’s Flood to the most terrifying images in Revelation, Yom Kippur is a Set-apart time that impresses itself all over the Scripture. Enjoy and have a great fast!
Chag Sameyach and welcome to the start of our wonderful fall feast season! We kick off this very special month of Tishri with Yom Teruah, the day of shofar blasting, the seventh new moon of the year and a day that may actually point to the Second Coming of the Messiah. Explore the connections between that and the rabbinic Rosh Hashanna, from from the creation of Adam in Genesis to the deepest patterns of Revelation, Yom Teruah covers it all! Enjoy! Keep Reeding
Ki Tavo means “when you enter” and begins with a variety of agricultural regulations that take effect once Israel has entered Canaan. Other regulations, such as that of tithing, are further instituted in the 26th chapter. 26 also contains a veiled rebuke from Moshe to the previous generation as he points out how good the land was, just as Abba YHWH commanded but this was not accepted as fact by Israel. As 27 opens, the Israelites will then hurl blessings from Mount Gerizim and curses from Ebal, as we spoke at length about earlier. The curses are a re-statement of the prohibitions in the Ten Commandments. The blessings for obedience then follow suit in chapter 28 and a very extensive category of curses for disobedience follows for the rest of that chapter. Chapter 29 begins with Moshe on a hopeful note, restating how Abba YHWH has been with them all even while being chastised, to get ready for this great moment of entering the Promised Land.
Ki Teze means “when you go out” as in terms of when Israel confronts her enemies on the battle field. One main war regulation is given at the start, and that is what to do with a woman taken captive from the nations that a Jewish man wants to make a wife. From there other requirements about marriage under other circumstances follow that have nothing to do with war. Many other marital and purity regulations follow for the remainder of this portion.