Entangled Sisters

The story of entangled twins is continuing in the Torah portion Vayeitzei (Genesis 28:10–32:3.)  Structurally, it is very similar to the story of the previous Torah portion, Toldot (see Entangled Twins).  In this portion, we again read about two entangled siblings—albeit, this time, sisters—about deception and spontaneous symmetry breaking.

Two sisters were Rachel and Leah. Moreover, according to Midrash, Rachel and Leah were twins (Seder Olam Rabbah). As twins, who emerge from the same womb, they were entangled.  They were somewhat opposite—one is introvert, the other is extrovert; one is beautiful, the other has weak eyes. Rachel and Leah are earthly embodiments of spiritual partzufim (Vissages, configurations of sephirot—Divine emanations).  Kabbalah teaches that in spiritual realms, there is Partzuf Rachel and Partzuf Leah, which are two aspects of the Nukva—the feminine aspect of Godliness.  Partzuf Rachel represents the revealed aspect of the creation (alma d’isgalya) and the realm of speech (Olam haDibur), while Partzuf Leah represents the hidden aspect of the creation (alma d’iskasya) and the realm of thought (Olam haMachshavah).  Just as Partzuf Rachel and Partzuf Leah are “entangled” in the spiritual world as two aspects of the same Partzuf of Nukva, so too the sisters are entangled below.

Just as the entanglement with Esau allowed Jacob to trick his father, Isaac, by impersonating Esau, so in this Torah portion: the entanglement of two sisters allows their father, Laban (Lavan), to trick Jacob by substituting Leah for Rachel on the wedding night.  Ultimately, though, Jacob marries both sisters, because in the spiritual realm, Partzuf Z”A (Ze’er Anpin) couples with two female sub-partzufimPartzuf Leah and Partzuf Rachel.

And just as in the previous Torah portion, Toldot, the symmetry between two brothers is broken by God choosing Jacob (see Entangled Twins), so too in this portion, the symmetry between two sisters is spontaneously broken by Jacob favoring Rachel.

We see how the same Divine drama plays out in two consecutive portions of the Torah as in two acts with a somewhat different cast of characters.


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About the Author:

Alexander Poltorak was trained as a theoretical physicist in Russia. He is Chairman and CEO of General Patent Corporation. Dr. Poltorak served as an Assistant Professor of Biomathematics at Cornell University Medical College, as an Assistant Professor of Physics at Touro College, he guest-lectured at Columbia University School of Engineering and Business School. He is presently affiliated with the CUNY serving as an adjunct professor of physics at the City College of New York and Research Fellow at the Institute for Ultrafast Spectroscopy and Lasers. Alex Poltorak authored several books and many articles. He blogs about physics, kabbalah and Jewish philosophy.

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