Vayetze: Chapter 38

The rods


Rabbi Elazar further speculates on the secret meaning of Jacob's rods. He reflects on the verse; "If you are wise, you are wise for yourself; and if you scorn, you alone shall bear it." A man benefits from the wisdom of the Torah; if he fails to understand it, it is he who languishes in ignorance; the Torah itself is not diminished at all. Rabbi Aba adds that when Jacob in his wisdom separated his flocks from those of Laban, he created the singular nation of Israel, which was set off from the heathen peoples.


The most critical part of spiritual work is learning how to identify and thus separate good from evil; to distinguish the whims of the ego from the longings of the soul. This passage raises our consciousness so that we can begin to differentiate darkness from Light when the temptations of the physical world and the seductive drives of our ego attempt to blur the lines.