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Goats and Coats
Video 4 of 14
These same events, number 1, 2 and 3 except they're happening in reverse chronological order. The event which happens first in the case of Yaakov, arrival in Be'er Sheva, actually happens last over here in the Avraham story. The event which happens third in the Yaakov story, Yaakov, Yaakov, followed by here I am, is the event which actually happens first over here in the Akeidah story. So these things are happening in reverse chronological order and that's the direction of the arrows over here, the direction of time is going this way in the Akeidah, the direction of time is going this way, the other way, in the story of Yaakov finding out Yosef is alive.
What I want to argue is that this begins to offer us a clue, because remember these - even though these parallels are here, they're not straightforward parallels, they're actually backwards parallels, these are parallels happening in reverse, maybe that's the lens? Maybe in order to see the parallels which happen later you need to adopt a backwards or reverse kind of lens. If you see things upside down or if you see things through reverse kinds of lenses then maybe these two texts start to look a lot more similar than they first appear. As a matter of fact, maybe the reason why you can't see that they're similar is because why would you see that they're similar? They're the opposites of each other. They're reverses.
So now, try to adopt an opposite lens and now look at these stories and see if you see any connections between them. Here's what I think some of them are. Let me begin actually at the end - a good place to begin, if we're talking about reverses, begin at the end. So if I begin at the end, the end of the communication by G-d to Yaakov, it's right over here, so maybe I would expect in reverse parallels that the end might mirror the beginning - which is to say the first thing that it is that G-d says to Abraham in the Akeidah story. Maybe. If we're dealing with reverse parallels, maybe the end would mirror the beginning. So just to keep the thing simple I'm going to get rid of the second thing the angel says, we're just going to look at the first speech, speech number 1 that the angel gives to Avraham, and we're going to ask if the beginning of the angel's words might mirror in any way the end of the angel's words - the end of G-d's words to Yaakov?
So let's look at it carefully - and when we do by the way, I want to suggest something else, which is that maybe if we're talking about really reverse parallels, they could be reversed in two kinds of ways. One way where something can be reversed is in its order and that might mean that the events which are first in one story might end up being last in the other story. That's what we've been talking about over here with maybe verse 4 the last thing the angel is saying over here in this story mirroring the first thing that the angel is saying up over here. But another thing that reverse might mean is not that just that the order of events are reversed, but also that the significance of events are reversed. By that I mean for example, if let's say something was falling down in story number 1 so it would be going up in story number 2, that would be the reverse. If something were black in story number 1, it might be white in story number 2. If something were happy in story number 1, it might be sad in story number 2. The significance of events might actually be reversed.
So let's look at these two things, not just the order being reversed but also the possibility that significance might be reversed. Let's adopt this reverse kind of lens for order and significance and all of a sudden I think things will begin to jump out at us. I'm just going to try this with you right now, with just one element of the speeches, this last element over here, and kind of let's see how this works. It's a little tricky thinking backwards and reverse at the same time, you could try it by sort of staring at yourself in the mirror and noticing that what you see in front of you is not actually you but the mirror, the reverse image of you, but let's just try to do this over here. So let's clear the screen and see what we come up with.
Okay, so let's start with this, does the last thing that G-d tells Jacob - does that perhaps mirror the first thing that G-d tells Abraham over here? So let's just look at what this is. The last thing that G-d says to Yaakov is this, He says, I will go down with you to Egypt and I will come up, and now over here, this shaded area, He says; V'Yosef yashit yado al einecha. Now we talked about what that means before, that Yosef, your treasured child, you're going to go down, he's going to see you, and you don't have to worry because you may die in Egypt but Joseph is going to be there, your beloved son is going to be with you when you die, everything is going to be okay, he's going to be the one to benevolently touch you and close your eyes as you die. Therefore don't worry about a thing Jacob. I'm going to go down with you to Egypt, I'm going to come up with you, and Joseph is going to be there, what could be so bad?
As we talked about before, a lot can be so bad, you know Jacob is on a need-to-know basis over here, G-d is not telling him about the 400 years of slavery but by the time that Jacob or his family is going to emerge from this it's going to be a long, long time. But G-d is selectively telling him the good points over here, and the good point at the end is; V'Yosef yashit yado al einecha - Yosef is going to spread his hands over your eyes.
So does this last thing that G-d tells Yaakov mirror in any way the first thing that G-d tells Avraham, which is this; angel comes out of the clouds; Al tishlach yadecha el hana'ar - don't stretch out your hand against the child. Now when we say does the last thing mirror the first thing, does it mirror the first thing, which means, that it's going to be not the same thing but it's going to be the reverse. So we're going to have reverse in order, the last thing is going to mirror the first thing, but we're also going to have reverse in significance. We're going to look at the opposite of Yosef placing his hands upon your eyes, do we see the opposite of that over here in verse 12?
Okay, so let's sort of do this element by element, and see what we come up with. We can actually break down this verse, this idea; V'Yosef yashit yado al einecha, to a few parts. Fascinatingly, each part, I think, is going to find its opposite in the other verse - very, very elegant, kind of complex, so stay with me. What's the opposite of a father not touching his son? There's three elements over here, a father, element number 1. Not touching, element number 2. Your son, element number 3. Because that, by the way is what's going on over here. Al tishlach yadecha el hana'ar - the angel is saying, father, don't stretch out your hand to touch your son. So what's the opposite of a father not touching his son? And, do we see it over here? The answer is we absolutely do. Let's just do this one by one. The opposite of father; opposite of father is going to be son. The opposite of not touching is going to be touching. Opposite of son is going to be father. So if we look at it through that lens, son touch father, oh look, that's what we have right over here. Son, Yosef; Yashit yado - is going to touch; Al einecha - you, father. Yosef is going to touch you. Interestingly. A father not touching his son over here is going to get mirrored with a son touching father over here.
So let's just put this up on the screen for you. The opposite of a father not touching his son is a son touching his father, but it actually goes more than this, exactly how is the father not supposed to touch his son over here? We might say, the father is not supposed to touch his son malevolently, causing your son's death. Remember, Abraham here he's got this knife, he's going to kill Yitzchak, and the angel says, no don't touch him, don't touch him in this violent way to kill your son, which would cause his death. Don't do that. Okay let's play the opposite, reverse game now, right over here. Opposite of malevolently is going to be benevolently. The opposite of causing - causing is something that happens before an event, so the opposite of that is going to be something that happens after an event, after. The opposite of son's death over here is going to be after father's death, perhaps - which might be exactly what we have right over here.
Because the opposite of a father not touching his son malevolently, causing your son's death, which is what we're talking about over here, angel; Don't touch Yitzchak, don't kill him, would be Yosef your son benevolently touching your father after father has already died, closing his eyes, lovingly closing his eyes. So literally - if you just put this up on the screen a little bit more efficiently, it looks like this. A father not touching his son malevolently causing his son's death, the opposite would be a son touching his father benevolently after father has died, closing the eyes of Jacob. Don't worry, your son Yosef is going to be here, everything is going to be perfect.
So literally in 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6 elements all over here, this is like the exact reverse of this, it's amazing. Makes you sort of wonder whether the first thing that happens over here maybe mirrors the last thing - and by the way not exactly the same but maybe the opposite? An interesting thought. Let's come back and explore that.
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