Vayetze: Chapter 31

The rods


In this passage the rabbis discuss the allegorical meaning of the rods, or peeled branches of poplar, that Jacob used to separate his flocks from those of Laban at the drinking troughs. These rods represent the power of judgment, or the ability to make distinctions. Rabbi Elazar says, "All these verses instruct us wisely," even the most trivial.


In our material existence, the differences between good and evil, and truth and falsehood, are often blurred. This makes our spiritual efforts very challenging, and thus also very rewarding. The power of discernment is instilled in our consciousness by these verses, so that our choices in life keep us secure in our spiritual path.