VAYETZEI (GEN 28:10 – 32:3)
So maybe this doesn't have much to do with being queer but this is my blog so I guess I can write whatever I want and what really stood out to me on this reading was not what WTC talked about- which was the transformative relationship struggles between Rachel and Leah, or what TQ talked about- which was the “coming out” of Jacob from his struggles with Esau ( that felt like a streeeeetch of those words and ideas) or even what my synagogue, Kavana, sent out this year, about stepping stones as markers on our lives, which, as a queer person actually does feel rather poignant- because my life is made up of markers and changes and times that are marked and divided.
But, what I was really thinking the whole time- was that Jacob having to marry Leah and being “punished” by actually dealing with the “elder’s” share- is karma at its best. Like- it is almost a direct parallel comeuppance to him stealing someone else’s position, that he should then have to ALSO take someone’s position. Also- this parshah is where we first see the name Zebulon, the last of Jacob and Leah’s sons before Joseph- the name means prince- and is where I am taking the second of my new Hebrew names. Still figuring out the ceremony stuff, but I feel like I'm in the right place, and I was happy to see that today.
The other thing I found interesting in this parshah is what it says in TQ about how Jacob, who left his home after pretending to be something he wasn’t- literally he was wearing an Esau suit- was then really lost and listless. He has a dream where he is
“invited to ascend the ladder, to imagine himself anew, in an entirely different way from the language and images he has known until now… He wakes up and declares “Surely G-d was in this place (ha-Makom), and I did not know!” (28:16). But where was the place where he encountered the presence of G-d? It was nowhere, the wild, unknown place; in Hebrew ha-Makom not only means “the (physical) place” but is also a name for God. Thus he did not arrive at “the (unnamed) place” but rather had a transformative encounter with the Unnameable ground of All. What, therefore, can Jacob mean when he says, “God was in this place but I did not know?” The place he refers to is himself; Jacob now understands that he himself as he is, reflects the Divine image that was his birthright all along.”
The following is from an Amazing book entirely about that particular line : God was in this place & I, i did not know" and the next quote is from it:
"So, in addition to seeing the beginning and the end, I also saw myself. All was within me. I stood there with my arms and legs outstretched like the rays of the sun and watched all being pass before me. It was all in my hands." (p.128)
This so captures the feeling of coming into yourself after you come out. The first time you REALLY are able to look in the mirror and IMAGINE yourself- maybe you can’t see it exactly just yet, but you can really start to imagine that its possible- that you could REALLY do it, you could transition, you could live that life- you could be the YOU that you are- that is a magic that is divine- you finally see yourself and feel inside of yourself and feel the divine in yourself. I felt a battle inside myself cease when that I was able to see that.
I also REALLY liked the reminder, in TQ- that “our tradition teaches that every aspect of the Torah is a potential source of meaning, from the accent marks to the shapes of the letters or even the layout of the columns of the scroll”.. this is the way Jews have always read the torah. They have ALWAYS queered it.