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    Money or migration? – Vayyetzei

    Jacob & his family flee Laban, by Charles Foster, 1897

    When God told Jacob it was time to go home to Canaan, the patriarch called his wives Rachel and Leah to the field where they could talk unobserved, and they discussed the Divine command.

    Fair enough, and we would have expected that the husband would say, “This is what God wants”, and the wives would reply, “We agree – you must fulfil the word of the Lord!”

    But this is not how the conversation developed.

    Jacob said that he had served the wives’ father Laban faithfully but had been cheated by him time after time. The wives said that Laban had not treated them properly either and had not given them a dowry.

    After this exchange, God got a mention, but the money side seems to have come first.

    Where was the idealism, the spirituality, the faith? How could pragmatic considerations come first, even before God?

    The whole episode appears really strange.

    If there is an explanation it may be that people’s motivations are generally mixed. When a great call presents itself, they want to be idealists, but they have to think of their family.

    In this case there are no family considerations that stand in the way, so they have no problem with heeding the word from On High.

    Had there been a pull to stay behind, the discussion might have taken a different turn.

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