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Vayaytsay: An Evening in Leah’s Tent

Gen. 28:10-32:3

 

“The LORD saw that Leah was unloved, and so He opened her womb, but Rachel He did not allow to have children. Leah conceived and bore a son....”--Gen. 29:31-2

Scene: Leah’s tent. As per the agreement between the two wives of Jacob, Leah and Rachel, Jacob is spending this particular evening with his Elder Wife, Leah. He is, however, infatuated with Rachel, and wishes he could be with her. Leah does the best she can to catch his attention. Jacob is sitting by the fire, sipping a mug of spiced wine and looking glum.

Leah (She is wearing a special robe which her handmaidens embroidered for this occasion): My Lord Jacob! My husband—will it please you to come sit by me?

Jacob: What? (His speech is slightly slurred by the wine) Oh, that’s all right, my dear. I am perfectly comfortable here, on this old rock by the fire. How cold it has grown out on the open fields where we graze the sheep! (He shivers)

Leah: You work very hard, My Lord.

Jacob: Hm? Oh—yes, I do, I do. Thank you, my dear (He spits into the flames).

Leah: Oh! Please don’t do that, Husband Jacob; it’s such a common thing to do.

Jacob: Why—what did I do? You mean this? (Spits again)

Leah: Just that—oh! When you do peasant things like that, I shudder. (Imperiously) When will you learn to lord it over your shepherds, those bumpkins, and not act the way they do—you are their master! Why can you not comport yourself like our father, like Lavan?

Jacob (growing angry over her mentioning the father-in-law, his tormentor): Well, then, Leah: perhaps I shouldn’t spend the evening with you; perhaps I should send your father over, instead!  (He half-rises,but is drunk and his legs are rubbery; he sinks back down, finding the rock with difficulty).

Leah (realizing she has gone too far, in taunting her headstrong husband): Oh, Jacob—please, Dear One—I meant nothing by it (Suddenly bursting into tears). O you—you stubborn donkey! What will it take for us to have a quiet, pleasant evening together? Our youngest, Judah, is already ready for lessons with the Village Elder, and you shun my tent, and my bed—(She weeps bitterly)

Jacob (angry and drunk): What, a bumpkin am I, you spoiled brat? If I am a peasant, then you are the daughter of a cheat and a thief! (She answers him with tears. He rises, crosses the tent, and takes her by the hand) Don’t cry—please, Leah, I beg you—don’t cry! It tears my heart to see you sad.

Leah (through her tears): But wouldn’t you rather be with my sister? I love her; she is my best friend in the world—but I hate her, for pulling us apart! Why do you merely hold my hand, when I yearn for you to embrace me?

Jacob: I—I—don’t know what to say to that. I do love Rachel, very much. But (gritting his teeth) I—love you—as—well.

Leah: You see? You cannot even get the words out.

Jacob (angry at being caught in a lie): Words? What is wrong now with my words? Did I not say what you wished me to?

Leah: The words, “I love you, Leah.” Say it—say it, by God’s beard!

Jacob: I—I—love—you, Leah.

Leah (mournfully): You say it as though it were a curse.

Jacob (furious): Stop it, Leah! We are husband and wife. Your scoundrel father Lavan fooled me into marrying you, and we are together forever. Together, we will live, and when we die, we will enter Sheol together! What a pretty couple we will make, there in the Afterlife, finding fault and bickering! Gods and demons! Will you never give me any peace?

Leah (crying afresh): Oh, Jacob—that is the cruelest thing that anyone has ever said to me, least of all my God-ordained husband! Why don’t you leave me? Leave me right now, and I will raise my sons on my own, all by myself. After all, Great-Aunt Hagar did it. You—you can go off to the tent of my sister, that harlot!


Jacob: They are OUR sons, Leah. If you try to take them away from me, I will fight you before the magistrate in Beersheva.


Leah: Father to my boys? Ha! You are never home; always chasing those cattle around, out there in the distant fields. Well, enough of you: cursed be the fruit of my womb, for having you for a father! You are with me, but you dream of being with that—that—other woman. Hear me, Jacob ben Isaac: may your love Rachel remain barren, and I, prolific! That is my prayer to your God (laughs bitterly), and may He answer me soon, soon!

 

Jacob slaps her face. She collapses at his feet, sobbing. He runs a short distance away and looks up at the night sky.

 

Jacob (addressing the Heavens): Lord God—God of my father and grandfather! Have You nothing to amuse yourself with up there, except to send down torments upon my hapless head? I am truly fortune’s fool—two wives have I, as You know, one beloved—my Rachel—and the other—one, Leah—hated. No, Lord, not hated, but actively disliked. Leah cannot help it—as the firstborn daughter, her father Lavan held her as the apple of his eye. But I, Lord, cannot do so; Rachel has seized my heart. (Leah quietly comes and stands a short distance behind him) And now, Lord, thanks to Your machinations, I have a headache....(He leans against a tree and rubs his temples) Oh, oh—my God! It hurts, it hurts; my entire life is one gigantic pain.

 

Leah (plucking at his sleeve): Or, perhaps, My Husband, you drank a bit too much wine, hmm? (She hands him a water- cup) Drink, Jacob. It is naught but cool well-water. And splash some on your forehead to ease the torment.

 

Jacob (doing so): Oh, my Leah—how can I be worthy of you? Believe me, Dearest Leah, I wish to treat you as much as—nay, better, than I do your sister (He drinks deeply from the cup). How can I apologize for all the hurtful things I said? This water—it tastes strange. What—

 

Leah (smiling mysteriously): Drink deep from the cup, My Husband, and ask no questions. (He begins to speak; she places a finger on his lips) Hush! Come inside. (She sings softly) “Let me drink of the kisses of your mouth, for your kisses are sweeter than wine. The king has brought me to his chambers, saying, “We will rejoice and make merry with thee!” (Hand-in-hand, they enter the tent) I only pray that our next child will be as strong and decisive as you, My Lord.

 

(She guides him into the tent.)

 

Jacob: Oh, Leah! How God has blessed me with you. (He staggers; she takes his arm and places him onto the bed. She turns and puts out the oil-lamp. Darkness.)

 

(And some months later, a boy is born: “God has rewarded me!” Leah exclaims. We know him as Issachar.)

 

 

MEET OUR CLERGY

OUR RABBI - David Hartley Mark

WATCH RABBI MARK , To Life, L'Chaim #217 - Rabbi David Mark (You Tube)

Rabbi David Hartley Mark

Rabbi David Hartley Mark was born in New York City, and grew up on the Lower East Side, that legendary Jewish immigrant neighborhood, attending Hebrew Day School. He was first from his school, the East Side Torah Center, to attend Yeshiva University High School for Boys—Manhattan. David attended Yeshiva University, where he attained a BA in English Literature, a BS in Bible and Jewish Education, and a Hebrew Teacher’s Diploma (HTD). He spent his third year of college at Bar Ilan University in Ramat-Gan, Israel, where he developed a fluency in Hebrew, and toured around the country. He has also attained a Certificate in Advanced Jewish School Administration from the Hebrew College in Brookline, MA.

David attended the City University of New York Graduate Center, where he earned an MA degree from Queens College, as well as an M.Phil. degree, majoring in 17th Century English, specializing in the work of John Milton, as well as the Romantic Poets. A year teaching Hebrew School in a Reform temple in Brooklyn convinced him of his great love of Judaism, and he began attending the Academy for Jewish Religion, Yonkers, NY, where he was ordained a rabbi in 1980.

 

He met Anbeth, who was hired as temple secretary the same day he was hired to teach. They were married in 1978. They have two grown children, Tyler and Jordan, as well as a grandson, Aidan.

 

Rabbi Mark served pulpits in Warren, NJ, Fayetteville, NC, and Portsmouth, NH, in which last pulpit he spent 22 years, a record for that state. Seeking warmer climes, as well as closer family members, he and Anbeth took the pulpit of Temple Sholom in 2009. He also fulfilled a lifetime dream of teaching English at Keiser University in Ft. Lauderdale.  

 

OUR CANTOR - Javier Smolarz

Cantor Javier Smolarz

Cantor Smolarz comes to us originally from Argentina and via Congregations in various U.S. localities, joining Temple Sholom in September of 2018, where he has been wholeheartedly embraced by the Congregation.  His strong beautiful singing voice is coupled with a great sense of presence and decorum, but with a warm welcoming demeanor - all of which enhances our morning minyans and shabbat and holiday services.

 

 

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Our Czech Torah - Holocaust Memorial Scroll

The Torah was shipped in 1989 following a request from Malcolm Black who was the President at that time. The Torah is about 200 years old and comes from Mlada Boleslav, a town in the Czech Republic.

Fri, November 27 2020 11 Kislev 5781