Vayeytse: Intergenerational transference between Yitzhak and Yaakov


Tamar Pelleg

Since then, a lot of water has flowed in the river of my life. Today, apart from my everyday writing in my “Morning  Diary”, I write regularly on topics related to the Hebrew Bible’s portion of the week, from a psycho-spiritual perspective and on topics  related to relationships that I post on  Facebook, blog, digital story collections and recently I am engaged in writing a  book and my  dream begins to come true.



When Esau returns from the hunt and realizes that his blessing was stolen by his brother, he is furious — to the point of wanting to kill him (a jealous brother killing his brother is not something new).   Rebecca sends her son from his home to her brother Laban in Haran and promises to call him to return when Esau calms down and the danger passes.   However, to her husband Yitzhak, she explains that Yaakov needs to leave the house to marry someone from the family and not from the daughters of the Hittites.   So, Isaac too sends his son away from home on the pretext of finding a mate.

To my understanding, Jacob made a triple betrayal:

The first time he betrayed himself — when he listens to his mother and not to his inner truth.   Although he had a moment of reluctance, he followed her plan. Second —   betrayal when he took Esau’s identity and fraudulently received his blessing, and thus -the third betrayal — he in fact betrayed his father.

. . . .

A strange weight took over his body and darkness enveloped him.  A small black dot did not stop vibrating inside his soul.

What will happen now?

He heard his mother’s voice in his ears: “You must leave the house! Leave the land! Escape from your brother’s wrath and from his revenge”

Then his father’s voice:

”    You must leave home. Go from here to Haran. Find you a worthy spouse from our ‘tribe’.”

Leave the house.

Like rolling thunder, those words pounded on his heart and intensified the tremor within him.

And he noticed the additional voices that joined the disharmonious chorus within him:

Does Mother want to get him out of the house? Is she mad at him?

Maybe she felt he had not acted wholeheartedly? That he did not disguise his voice when he spoke to his father?

(The Voice – The Voice of Jacob. ..)

And Father? Maybe he’s mad at him for lying to him and taking advantage of his blindness.

He felt the growing movement within him threatening to tear him apart from within:

Escape from … or move towards …?

This conflict shook him mercilessly.

And for how long will I run away?  Will I return home again, will I still get to see them?

Thoughts battered him like heavy, sharp stones.

He remembered his mother’s words:

Until thy brother hath again turned away from thee, and hath forgotten what thou hast done unto him…

She promised “your curse is upon me, my son,” he thought, and now she’s shifting the price to him and sending him away!


He felt frightened.

He felt kicked out.

He did not want to go, moreover if he had to go, did not want his journey to be an escape.

It came to mind a memory of his grandfather Abraham and his “go to…” story.

Grandpa was also required to leave his father’s house, his country and his homeland, but in such different circumstances. Grandpa Abraham’s story was accompanied by a heroic feeling; he was portrayed as daring. That was not the case with him.

He set off in a hurry. Launched into the unknown.  He did not know how long he had walked like that alone. He looked back from time to time to see if Esau was chasing him —  hiding like a persecuted animal,

And suddenly —  darkness!

It was as if someone had turned off the sunlight at once.

“And he made camp at this place and slept there because the sun went down.”

The darkness enveloped him, and he lost touch with reality.

Something sublime stopped him and forced him to spend the night there.

He found a large stone and lay on it, fell asleep and dreamed.

We all know the dream that Jacob had.  I would like to suggest that he may have had another dream before it.

And in the dream, his father Isaac, lying on the same stone, bound, like a sheep on the altar, when his father Abraham stands over him with the knife …

Why did he not run away from his father? Why did he surrender?

Jacob woke up in terror!

He too had agreed to go along with his mother’s plan without objection. He also betrayed himself.

In the dream, Yitzchak his father survived.   A deer suddenly appeared, trapped in a thicket.

Is this a sign that he too will be saved from this tangle he found himself in?


He moved off the stone and decided to sleep on the ground.

He found a small stone and placed it behind his head as a pillow and then dreamed again:

And in his dream a ladder was placed on the ground and his head in the sky … and angels ascended and descended on it.

This tension between the two poles, ascent, and descent, felt familiar to him.

This is how his journey began, between the two poles of “ascending” – going to .. and “descending” – to escape from.

Can any of these angels tell him if he is going the right way?

Is he ascending or descending?

What are the dots he needs to connect?

He felt that he had lost something, but he could not hold on to focus and say what it was.

Who am I? What am I doing here? What will help me feel connected?

In the midst of his concentrated distress, he suddenly heard the voice of the God of Abraham and the God of Isaac speaking to him and blessing him:

”    The land on which you lie, I will give you and your seed … and the families of the earth will bless you … I will not leave you”!

The words were like oil, lubricating the constriction he had felt in his heart:  I will not leave you!

Something expanded a bit inside him.

Suddenly, in this immense darkness, in the midst of this great fear, it was as if a light had suddenly been turned on!

Who would believe it?

That, in this place, dark, terrifying, lonely – there is a God!

“Indeed, there is a God in this place, and I did not know!”

The Midrash describes the place at which Yaakov camped as the place of binding.   It claims that this was the place where Jacob made his first stop on his way, and at which he received the divine promise that he was blessed.

It makes me think of the intergenerational trauma that passes between Isaac and Jacob.

In both, in the darkest moment, as soon as hope is almost lost, salvation arrives. To Isaac – in the form of the deer clinging to the thicket and to Jacob, through the dream and the divine promise.

God gives Jacob the happy ending of his story in advance – but with no promise of how he will get there. That’s already his part of the story … the work he needs to do.

And we too in our journeys are sometimes on the run, denying parts we cannot recognize as ours, and sometimes it takes an entire life’s journey to recognize them and to integrate them in ourselves.  It took Jacob more than 20 years.

May we be blessed that, like Jacob, we will experience a course of complete integration during our life journeys — and that we will succeed in transforming failing patterns to ones of meaning.


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