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Hebrew Calendar

5776
Yom Rishon
3rd of Kislev

Gregorian Calendar

2015
Sunday
November 15th

Tishrei | Heshvan | Kislev | Tevet | Shevat | Adar | Nissan | Iyar | Sivan | Tammuz | Av | Elul
Jan | Feb | Mar | Apr | May | June | July | Aug | Sept | Oct | Nov | Dec

GOD IS A VERB

At Team SKINNY, we’re okay with God. Some of us believe in a literal, all-powerful deity, while others think of God as a metaphor. Either way, all of us deeply understand that what makes Judaism unique (and, we think, most intriguing) is that it doesn’t matter whether you believe in a literal God, or a metaphoric one, or none of the above. Rather, Judaism teaches that it’s up to each of us To Be God. And we don’t mean being like those self-obsessed, selfish, selfies who think they are God. In Judaism, “to be God” means elevating ourselves from the mundane and striving toward goodness, holiness, and wholeness in our lives. Being like God is an intellectual pursuit and an emotional, spiritual one: We argue. We debate. We question. And…We believe. We feel. We act. The latest twitter controversy forces us to join either the #star (read intellectual) or the #heart (read emotional) camp, but in Judaism, we can be both #star and #heart. We think Black Cindy said it best in her conversion speech on the season three finale of Orange is the New Black. (Watch it!) Black Cindy said: “Honestly…I think I found my people. I was raised in a church where I was told to believe and pray. And if I was bad, I’d go to hell. And if I was good, I’d go to heaven. And if I’d ask Jesus, he’d forgive me and that was that. And here, y’all are saying there ain’t no hell. Ain’t sure about heaven. And if you do something wrong, you got to figure it out yourself. And as far as God’s concerned, it’s your job to keep asking questions and to keep learning and to keep arguing. It’s like a verb. It’s like: YOU DO GOD. And that’s a lot of work, but I think I’m in, as least as far as I can see it.” We at Team SKINNY are in too. Are you?

SKINNY RECAP

Read or Reread

In the Beginning: God created the world, but not daylight savings time.
Noah: Floods were never in fashion.
Lech Lecha: On your mark, Get set, Go!
Vayeira: It's cool to be good!
Chayei Sarah: The invention of the power couple.
Toldot: Bad parents and their yin and yang twin sons.

PARSHA HASHAVUAH

GELND | BSVBD


1st Book 
Genesis  | Bereisheit (In the Beginning)

2nd Book 
Exodus | Shemot (The Names)
3rd Book 
Leviticus | Vayikra (And God Called)
4th Book 
Numbers | Bamidbar (In the Desert)
5th Book 
Deuteronomy | Devarim (The Words)


Weekly Torah Reading:
GENESIS: 28:10 - 32:3 | VAYEITZEI
 
SKINNY TIP: Chapter, Colon, Verse, which means 28:10 - 32:3 is chapter 28 verse 10 to chapter 32 verse 3.

VAYEITZEI

THE SKINNY

Last week, the Torah section focused on Jacob (Yaakov in Hebrew), who hightailed it out of town to escape his twin brother, Esau, who had dropped a few F-bombs after he was cut out of the will. This week’s Torah portion, Vayeitzei (Vie-aye-tsz-aye), means: And he left, because he did. Jacob fled to Charan (ch – big scratch -are-on), which is in present-day Turkey. In Charan, Jacob met up with his uncle, Laban, who was his mother’s brother. (Read or re-read last week’s SKINNY for more on the twin brother saga and Jacob’s parents, Isaac and Rebecca.)
 
Laban had two daughters, Leah (Lay-ah) and Rachel. (In English, Rachel is pronounced: "Ray-chel” – like Lisa Simpson’s imaginary friend who went to Brandeis. In Hebrew, it’s “Rah-chel” with a giant scratchy “ch”). Jacob went to work for Laban as a shepherd. Laban offered to pay him in stock options, but Jacob preferred a term sheet that included marrying his cousin Rachel. (We know, gross, but that’s how they rolled back then.) Laban agreed on the condition that the “marrying-Rachel-stock” wouldn’t vest for seven years. Jacob agreed to wait that long so he could marry the love of his life. 
 
Rachel spent the ensuing seven years flipping through bridal magazines. (Bridal apps hadn’t been invented yet). When the big day arrived, Laban deceived Jacob by switching out Rachel for her older sister, Leah. Jacob was a bit of an idiot because he didn’t realize he’d married the wrong sister until the morning after the wedding. Jacob threw some serious F-bombs of his own at his father-in-law when he realized what went down. Laban muttered some lame excuse about the rules of matrimony mandating the oldest daughter gets hitched first, but he failed to mention that to Jacob seven years earlier. Laban then somehow convinced Jacob to work another seven years for Rachel to become his second wife. Jacob put in a lot of overtime and finally married Rachel seven years later.
 
By the way, ever wonder why, at some Jewish weddings, the groom lifts up his bride’s veil to take a quick peak? The custom arose from this story. The groom’s supposed to check to make sure he’s marrying the right woman. Nice tradition, but we just can’t imagine anyone being as dense as Jacob. This story is also where we complete the Jewish start-up nation’s award-winning team of executive-level matriarchs and patriarchs, with the addition of Rachel and Leah. In the siddur (see-do-er) – Jewish prayer book – there are a lot of prayers that mention the seven member team: Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Sarah, Rebecca, Rachel, and Leah.
 
Seven’s a popular number in Vayeitzei and it’s also the seventh weekly Torah portion in the annual cycle of Torah readings. Seven also occurs in a lot of other Jewish texts and traditions. Gematria (Ge – hard “g” – mah-tree-ah) is the spiritual interpretation of numbers and is an important hermeneutic technique for studying Jewish texts. Seven is one of the great power numbers in Gematria: Leah and Jacob had seven children. God created the world in seven days. The Torah mandates that every seven years we let the earth take a rest from farming. The candle holder that was lit in the Temple during ancient times had seven branches. We recite seven blessings at Jewish weddings. There are seven days of shiva (shiv-ah) – the mourning period after a close relative dies. The Torah reading on Shabbat is divided into seven sections. Rosh Hashanah falls on the seventh month in the Hebrew calendar and Pesach (Passover) and Sukkot are seven days long. You may remember from the Sukkot SKINNY that we shake seven plants on the holiday. And then there are these curious sevens: There are seven continents, seven seas, seven notes on the musical scale, seven wonders of the world, seven virtues in Catholicism, seven colors of the rainbow, seven Disney-dwarfs, 7-7-7 on a Las Vegas slot machine, 7-Up, 7-11, seven Harry Potter books that correspond to seven years at Hogwarts, and Miley Cyrus sings about the seven things she hates about her boyfriend. We at Team SKINNY are in seventh heaven about all of these sevens and are convinced that seven is God’s lucky number (metaphorically, that is).


 

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