For today, Va-Yishlach, Genesis 32:4 – 36:43 – Jacob wrestles with a divine being, reconciles with his brother Esau, the story of Dinah, and more.
A strange lone verse appears here, with no introduction or follow-up:
Gen. 35:22 And it was when Jacob was dwelling in that land: Reuben went and lay with Bilka, his father’s concubine. And Israel heard – Now the sons of Jacob were twelve…
We hear nothing else about this incident until the end of Jacob’s life, when he offers blessings and curses to all of his sons:
Gen. 49:3 Reuben, my firstborn, you, my might, first-fruit of my vigor! Surpassing in loftiness, surpassing in force!
Gen. 49:4 Headlong like water-surpass no more! For when you mounted your father’s bed, then you defiled it – he mounted the couch!
Our text omits most of the details of this father and son relationship. Seldom do we know what really goes on between two people.
A message for our month of reflection in Elul – a few words often hint at a bigger story. Hidden beneath the surface we may find much more meaning.