Vayishlach 2015 Nov 28 / 16 Kislev, 5776

There is a curious verse in this week’s parasha (Torah portion). Gen. 35:22 begins a new storyline and then ends abruptly in the middle of the story and also with a cantillation (trope) symbol that does not belong at the end of the verse. In English, the verse is: “While Israel went and stayed in that land, Reuben went and ‘laid’ Bilhah (the implication is by force), his father’s concubine, and Israel heard….” The next verse changes the subject. It seems as if the story-teller does not wish to speak any more of this unsavory subject. Yet, there are unabbreviated stories of the sexual exploits of other prominent biblical figures, even other rape and incest stories in the Bible. The treatment of women in these texts is troubling to our modern sensibilities, and yet to this day, our society still struggles with issues of domestic violence, rape on college campuses, in the military and more. At Shabbat services this week, we will delve into this important subject. Rest assured, the discussion will be rated “PG.”

Genesis 32:4−36:43