Lent Day Twenty Three

Some thoughts coming from Zornberg (370 ff)

Jacob blesses Joseph's two Egyptian sons. He blesses them as his own sons. But there is a break in his thought, a hiatus. Suddenly it seems he does not see them. There are various suggested explanations; he is blind, or he sees the future evil that will come from these two (Omri and Jehu)... the spirit (of blessing, of poetry) departs from him... Avivah Zornberg sees the connecting thread of the narrative in Jacob's sudden memory of Rachel's death. A death on the road and a burial in an unconsecrated place, not a purchased burial plot.

I have a strong memory of such a burial on the road from Steinbeck's "Grapes of Wrath". The grandmother dies 'on the way' and is buried in a grave scraped by the side of the road. How many refugees have had such a final resting place?

Back to Zornberg herself though: on page 376, 377

"Rachel's entreaties win God's ear as no other intercession succeeds in doing.... Maharal [1525-1609] understands her to be speaking of theological issues—monotheism and idolatry, sin and forgiveness, in terms of her most intimate experience. This is the core of Maharal's discussion. The story of Jacob and Rachel's love for each other becomes a paradigm for metaphysical reality:

This is a world of "diffracted, partial relationships, of kaleidoscopic, shifting appearances."

"...Rachel, in Maharal's reading, is poised at the fulcrum of unity and fragmentation. She personifies total passion—Jacob works for her and only for her; she is the primary and ultimate symbol of integration..." (376)

I take the thinking a little further, in acknowledging the larger human family, the fractures amongst the "people of the book", the disunity between nations and peoples, the wonderful diversity in this world. But without knowing and acknowledging the differences, how can we work towards harmony?

As we move further into Lent, and into deeper reflection, may we know the shoes we walk in, and also gently learn to walk in the shoes that others walk in as well. And pray that we might live on this earth with justice, peace and gentleness.