Thursday, February 02, 2006

The Dance of Observation and Connections

Today, I want to dance. By this I refer to a mental dance, in which I dance across the pages of the Tanakh, form connections, make observations, and consider them in light of what interests me.

One of the most wonderful things about the Torah and Tanakh are the similarities to be found between many different ideas and stories. Oftentimes, these stories work best in conjunction with one another- a very important method of learning, that of comparing and contrasting different pieces. With this in mind, I introduce to you some parallel stories, ideas, symbols, objects, observations and/or questions.

Let the game begin!

One of the best-known scenarios in Tanakh deals with Rachel's decision to steal her father's terafaim. Observe:

    יט וְלָבָן הָלַךְ, לִגְזֹז אֶת-צֹאנוֹ; וַתִּגְנֹב רָחֵל, אֶת-הַתְּרָפִים אֲשֶׁר לְאָבִיהָ.
    19 Now Laban was gone to shear his sheep. And Rachel stole the teraphim that were her father's.


    ל וְעַתָּה הָלֹךְ הָלַכְתָּ, כִּי-נִכְסֹף נִכְסַפְתָּה לְבֵית אָבִיךָ; לָמָּה גָנַבְתָּ, אֶת-אֱלֹהָי.
    30 And now that thou art surely gone, because thou sore longest after thy father's house, wherefore hast thou stolen my gods?'

    לא וַיַּעַן יַעֲקֹב, וַיֹּאמֶר לְלָבָן: כִּי יָרֵאתִי--כִּי אָמַרְתִּי, פֶּן-תִּגְזֹל אֶת-בְּנוֹתֶיךָ מֵעִמִּי.
    31 And Jacob answered and said to Laban: 'Because I was afraid; for I said: Lest thou shouldest take thy daughters from me by force.

    לב עִם אֲשֶׁר תִּמְצָא אֶת-אֱלֹהֶיךָ, לֹא יִחְיֶה--נֶגֶד אַחֵינוּ הַכֶּר-לְךָ מָה עִמָּדִי, וְקַח-לָךְ; וְלֹא-יָדַע יַעֲקֹב, כִּי רָחֵל גְּנָבָתַם.
    32 With whomsoever thou findest thy gods, he shall not live; before our brethren discern thou what is thine with me, and take it to thee.'--For Jacob knew not that Rachel had stolen them.--

    לג וַיָּבֹא לָבָן בְּאֹהֶל יַעֲקֹב וּבְאֹהֶל לֵאָה, וּבְאֹהֶל שְׁתֵּי הָאֲמָהֹת--וְלֹא מָצָא; וַיֵּצֵא מֵאֹהֶל לֵאָה, וַיָּבֹא בְּאֹהֶל רָחֵל.
    33 And Laban went into Jacob's tent, and into Leah's tent, and into the tent of the two maid-servants; but he found them not. And he went out of Leah's tent, and entered into Rachel's tent.

    לד וְרָחֵל לָקְחָה אֶת-הַתְּרָפִים, וַתְּשִׂמֵם בְּכַר הַגָּמָל--וַתֵּשֶׁב עֲלֵיהֶם; וַיְמַשֵּׁשׁ לָבָן אֶת-כָּל-הָאֹהֶל, וְלֹא מָצָא.
    34 Now Rachel had taken the teraphim, and put them in the saddle of the camel, and sat upon them. And Laban felt about all the tent, but found them not.

    לה וַתֹּאמֶר אֶל-אָבִיהָ, אַל-יִחַר בְּעֵינֵי אֲדֹנִי, כִּי לוֹא אוּכַל לָקוּם מִפָּנֶיךָ, כִּי-דֶרֶךְ נָשִׁים לִי; וַיְחַפֵּשׂ, וְלֹא מָצָא אֶת-הַתְּרָפִים.
    35 And she said to her father: 'Let not my lord be angry that I cannot rise up before thee; for the manner of women is upon me.' And he searched, but found not the teraphim.

    Genesis 30: 31-35
Now, it's probable you have read and learned various interpretations and explanations of these verses before. But did you learn this?

    יב וַתֹּרֶד מִיכַל אֶת-דָּוִד, בְּעַד הַחַלּוֹן; וַיֵּלֶךְ וַיִּבְרַח, וַיִּמָּלֵט.
    12 So Michal let David down through the window; and he went, and fled, and escaped.

    יג וַתִּקַּח מִיכַל אֶת-הַתְּרָפִים, וַתָּשֶׂם אֶל-הַמִּטָּה, וְאֵת כְּבִיר הָעִזִּים, שָׂמָה מְרַאֲשֹׁתָיו; וַתְּכַס, בַּבָּגֶד. {ס}
    13 And Michal took the teraphim, and laid it in the bed, and put a quilt of goats' hair at the head thereof, and covered it with a cloth. {S}

    יד וַיִּשְׁלַח שָׁאוּל מַלְאָכִים, לָקַחַת אֶת-דָּוִד; וַתֹּאמֶר, חֹלֶה הוּא. {ס}
    14 And when Saul sent messengers to take David, she said: 'He is sick.' {S}

    טו וַיִּשְׁלַח שָׁאוּל אֶת-הַמַּלְאָכִים, לִרְאוֹת אֶת-דָּוִד לֵאמֹר: הַעֲלוּ אֹתוֹ בַמִּטָּה אֵלַי, לַהֲמִתוֹ.
    15 And Saul sent the messengers to see David, saying: 'Bring him up to me in the bed, that I may slay him.'

    טז וַיָּבֹאוּ, הַמַּלְאָכִים, וְהִנֵּה הַתְּרָפִים, אֶל-הַמִּטָּה; וּכְבִיר הָעִזִּים, מְרַאֲשֹׁתָיו. {ס}
    16 And when the messengers came in, behold, the teraphim was in the bed, with the quilt of goats' hair at the head thereof. {S}

    יז וַיֹּאמֶר שָׁאוּל אֶל-מִיכַל, לָמָּה כָּכָה רִמִּיתִנִי, וַתְּשַׁלְּחִי אֶת-אֹיְבִי, וַיִּמָּלֵט; וַתֹּאמֶר מִיכַל אֶל-שָׁאוּל, הוּא-אָמַר אֵלַי שַׁלְּחִנִי לָמָה אֲמִיתֵךְ.
    17 And Saul said unto Michal: 'Why hast thou deceived me thus, and let mine enemy go, that he is escaped?' And Michal answered Saul: 'He said unto me: Let me go; why should I kill thee?'

    Samuel I 19: 12-17
Very interesting! In both scenarios, it is the women who hide the teraphim, and what is more, use the excuse that someone is sick or unwell (Rachel says it is her time of the month, and Michal states that David is sick. ) Of course, the teraphim show up for different reasons (one is because Rachel has stolen them, the other because Michal is pretending David is actually there) but the similarity still exists.

While we're discussing the matter of similarites, notice how escapees almost always leave by the window.

As we have previously stated:

    יב וַתֹּרֶד מִיכַל אֶת-דָּוִד, בְּעַד הַחַלּוֹן; וַיֵּלֶךְ וַיִּבְרַח, וַיִּמָּלֵט.
    12 So Michal let David down through the window; and he went, and fled, and escaped.

And where do we first see this? By Rachab, of course!

    טו וַתּוֹרִדֵם בַּחֶבֶל, בְּעַד הַחַלּוֹן: כִּי בֵיתָהּ בְּקִיר הַחוֹמָה, וּבַחוֹמָה הִיא יוֹשָׁבֶת.
    15 Then she let them down by a cord through the window; for her house was upon the side of the wall, and she dwelt upon the wall.

    Joshua 2:15

    Back to Michal, however. Did you notice something interesting? Deception is associated with goats' hair.

      יג וַתִּקַּח מִיכַל אֶת-הַתְּרָפִים, וַתָּשֶׂם אֶל-הַמִּטָּה, וְאֵת כְּבִיר הָעִזִּים, שָׂמָה מְרַאֲשֹׁתָיו; וַתְּכַס, בַּבָּגֶד. {ס}
      13 And Michal took the teraphim, and laid it in the bed, and put a quilt of goats' hair at the head thereof, and covered it with a cloth. {S}

    And when is the first time we see deception with regard to goats' hair? By Jacob, of course!

      טו וַתִּקַּח רִבְקָה אֶת-בִּגְדֵי עֵשָׂו בְּנָהּ הַגָּדֹל, הַחֲמֻדֹת, אֲשֶׁר אִתָּהּ, בַּבָּיִת; וַתַּלְבֵּשׁ אֶת-יַעֲקֹב, בְּנָהּ הַקָּטָן.
      15 And Rebekah took the choicest garments of Esau her elder son, which were with her in the house, and put them upon Jacob her younger son.

      טז וְאֵת, עֹרֹת גְּדָיֵי הָעִזִּים, הִלְבִּישָׁה, עַל-יָדָיו--וְעַל, חֶלְקַת צַוָּארָיו.
      16 And she put the skins of the kids of the goats upon his hands, and upon the smooth of his neck.

      Genesis 27:16

    The idea of the voice, which is stressed in this story,

      כב וַיִּגַּשׁ יַעֲקֹב אֶל-יִצְחָק אָבִיו, וַיְמֻשֵּׁהוּ; וַיֹּאמֶר, הַקֹּל קוֹל יַעֲקֹב, וְהַיָּדַיִם, יְדֵי עֵשָׂו.
      22 And Jacob went near unto Isaac his father; and he felt him, and said: 'The voice is the voice of Jacob, but the hands are the hands of Esau.'

    is also very important by Saul and David.

      טז וַיְהִי כְּכַלּוֹת דָּוִד, לְדַבֵּר אֶת-הַדְּבָרִים הָאֵלֶּה אֶל-שָׁאוּל, וַיֹּאמֶר שָׁאוּל, הֲקֹלְךָ זֶה בְּנִי דָוִד; וַיִּשָּׂא שָׁאוּל קֹלוֹ, וַיֵּבְךְּ.
      16 And it came to pass, when David had made an end of speaking these words unto Saul, that Saul said: 'Is this thy voice, my son David?' And Saul lifted up his voice, and wept.

      Samuel I 24:16


      יז וַיַּכֵּר שָׁאוּל, אֶת-קוֹל דָּוִד, וַיֹּאמֶר, הֲקוֹלְךָ זֶה בְּנִי דָוִד; וַיֹּאמֶר דָּוִד, קוֹלִי אֲדֹנִי הַמֶּלֶךְ.
      17 And Saul knew David's voice, and said: 'Is this thy voice, my son David?' And David said: 'It is my voice, my lord, O king.'

      Samuel I 27:17

    Strangely, David seems to resemble both brothers in this story. He is similar to Jacob in that he is involved in a deception with goatskins, but he was born ruddy and is in temperament similar to Esau (and that is a whole separate issue; the violence in their temperaments- the fact that David killed for God and Esau for himself, etc). He even has the same forces as Esau!

      א וַיִּשָּׂא יַעֲקֹב עֵינָיו, וַיַּרְא וְהִנֵּה עֵשָׂו בָּא, וְעִמּוֹ, אַרְבַּע מֵאוֹת אִישׁ; וַיַּחַץ אֶת-הַיְלָדִים, עַל-לֵאָה וְעַל-רָחֵל, וְעַל, שְׁתֵּי הַשְּׁפָחוֹת.
      1 And Jacob lifted up his eyes and looked, and, behold, Esau came, and with him four hundred men. And he divided the children unto Leah, and unto Rachel, and unto the two handmaids.

      Genesis 33:1

    and by David

      יג וַיֹּאמֶר דָּוִד לַאֲנָשָׁיו חִגְרוּ אִישׁ אֶת-חַרְבּוֹ, וַיַּחְגְּרוּ אִישׁ אֶת-חַרְבּוֹ, וַיַּחְגֹּר גַּם-דָּוִד, אֶת-חַרְבּוֹ; וַיַּעֲלוּ אַחֲרֵי דָוִד, כְּאַרְבַּע מֵאוֹת אִישׁ, וּמָאתַיִם, יָשְׁבוּ עַל-הַכֵּלִים.
      13 And David said unto his men: 'Gird ye on every man his sword.' And they girded on every man his sword; and David also girded on his sword; and there went up after David about four hundred men; and two hundred abode by the baggage.

      Samuel I 25:13

    Now, this reference to the "two hundred who abide by the baggage" instantly serves to remind us of Saul himself.

    Recall Saul's coronation?

      כא וַיַּקְרֵב אֶת-שֵׁבֶט בִּנְיָמִן, לְמִשְׁפְּחֹתָו, וַתִּלָּכֵד, מִשְׁפַּחַת הַמַּטְרִי; וַיִּלָּכֵד שָׁאוּל בֶּן-קִישׁ, וַיְבַקְשֻׁהוּ וְלֹא נִמְצָא.
      21 And he brought the tribe of Benjamin near by their families, and the family of the Matrites was taken; and Saul the son of Kish was taken; but when they sought him, he could not be found.

      כב וַיִּשְׁאֲלוּ-עוֹד, בַּיהוָה, הֲבָא עוֹד, הֲלֹם אִישׁ; {ס} וַיֹּאמֶר יְהוָה, הִנֵּה-הוּא נֶחְבָּא אֶל-הַכֵּלִים.
      22 Therefore they asked of the LORD further: 'Is there yet a man come hither?' {S} And the LORD answered: 'Behold, he hath hid himself among the baggage.'

    But here Saul is hunting David, and punishing him in different ways:

      מד וְשָׁאוּל, נָתַן אֶת-מִיכַל בִּתּוֹ--אֵשֶׁת דָּוִד: לְפַלְטִי בֶן-לַיִשׁ, אֲשֶׁר מִגַּלִּים.
      44 Now Saul had given Michal his daughter, David's wife, to Palti the son of Laish, who was of Gallim.

      Samuel I 25:44
    Does this remind you of anything? It should!

      כ וַתְּהִי, אֵשֶׁת שִׁמְשׁוֹן, לְמֵרֵעֵהוּ, אֲשֶׁר רֵעָה לוֹ. {פ}
      20 But Samson's wife was given to his companion, whom he had had for his friend. {P}

      Judges 14:20
    And we all know that didn't work out so well...

    But here's another interesting connection! Observe the next verse:

      א וַיְהִי מִיָּמִים בִּימֵי קְצִיר-חִטִּים, וַיִּפְקֹד שִׁמְשׁוֹן אֶת-אִשְׁתּוֹ בִּגְדִי עִזִּים, וַיֹּאמֶר, אָבֹאָה אֶל-אִשְׁתִּי הֶחָדְרָה; וְלֹא-נְתָנוֹ אָבִיהָ, לָבוֹא
      1 But it came to pass after a while, in the time of wheat harvest, that Samson visited his wife with a kid; and he said: 'I will go in to my wife into the chamber.' But her father would not suffer him to go in.

      Judges 15:1
    Notice that when Samson desires to have marital relations with his wife he "brings her a kid." Where have we seen this before?

    Why, by Judah and Tamar!

      טז וַיֵּט אֵלֶיהָ אֶל-הַדֶּרֶךְ, וַיֹּאמֶר הָבָה-נָּא אָבוֹא אֵלַיִךְ, כִּי לֹא יָדַע, כִּי כַלָּתוֹ הִוא; וַתֹּאמֶר, מַה-תִּתֶּן-לִי, כִּי תָבוֹא, אֵלָי.
      16 And he turned unto her by the way, and said: 'Come, I pray thee, let me come in unto thee'; for he knew not that she was his daughter-in-law. And she said: 'What wilt thou give me, that thou mayest come in unto me?'

      יז וַיֹּאמֶר, אָנֹכִי אֲשַׁלַּח גְּדִי-עִזִּים מִן-הַצֹּאן; וַתֹּאמֶר, אִם-תִּתֵּן עֵרָבוֹן עַד שָׁלְחֶךָ.
      17 And he said: 'I will send thee a kid of the goats from the flock.' And she said: 'Wilt thou give me a pledge, till thou send it?'


      כג וַיֹּאמֶר יְהוּדָה תִּקַּח-לָהּ, פֶּן נִהְיֶה לָבוּז; הִנֵּה שָׁלַחְתִּי הַגְּדִי הַזֶּה, וְאַתָּה לֹא מְצָאתָהּ.
      23 And Judah said: 'Let her take it, lest we be put to shame; behold, I sent this kid, and thou hast not found her.'

      Genesis 38

    This is a dance that could continue forever and a day...constantly becoming, changing, and affording me new insights, ideas and observations. But this is one of the many reasons that secular studies are so important- it was English class that taught me to think this way, to try to find connections between words and ideas, and hence to understand. It was only later that my Chumash and Navi tests started introducing 'B'keshers' as they are often called...and even then, they were never as broad and all-encompassing as I liked them to be.

    I enjoy learning so much when I can dance through it....and so I will.


      Masmida said...

      So nu...

      how does it all fit together?

      It's amazing how studying poetry helps with parsing and analyzing pasukim.

      Anonymous said...

      "it was English class that taught me to think this way, to try to find connections between words and ideas"

      midrashim do the same :-)

      dbs said...

      6 degrees of kesheration. Very nice 'dance'.

      Ezzie said...

      That was really well choreographed, I must say...

      Elster said...

      Hey. I just stumbled onto your blog. You are the second one I found in the last few days written by someone writing way beyond their years on this earth. I will bookmark you and return.


      GregoryT said...

      Amazing. When I introduce your blog to my friends, I usually mention you as "Nechama Leibowitz in the making". Quite amazing.

      FrumGirl said...

      Chana... they all seem to connect but is anything brought down more conclusive... just curious... especially about the koach of goat haris I suppose....

      Clerk said...

      Hunting for useful sources that can help you to learn dance online is really time-consuming. However, if you are getting tired of searching for such resources over the internet, visit the website and go through dance directories.