Archive for November 29th, 2009

Jacob’s Complicated Love Life and its Halachic implications

Inevitably, the story about Jacob and his complicated love life raises a number of questions regarding the Jewish attitude concerning concubines and polygamy. Do Jews still practice polygamy? Outside Sephardic circles, polygamy has been banned for well over a thousand years, since the time Rabbanu Gershom outlawed it for Ashkenazic Jews.

Historically, there is no evidence of actual concubinage in the Talmud, nor is there any evidence of it in practice during the Middle Ages. In the responsa of Asher b. ...

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What did Jacob see in his vision at Beth El?

What did Jacob actually see when he had his mystical vision? Was it a ladder? Or was it a ziggurat? It all depends on how one wishes to translate the noun סֻלָּם (sulam).

Classical translations think it is a heavenly ladder, but more modern translations prefer ziggurat. For example, the NJPS translation renders it “He had a dream; a stairway was set on the ground”[1] The ladder imagery may reflect a Babylonian and Egyptian influence. The word סֻלָּם (sulam = ...

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