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Sunday, November 10, 2013

Karma? Or a Learning Curve?

Hi All -- now the weekly Bible portion.

After Jacob hightailed it out of there to escape Esau, on his way to Haran, he reached a place where he had a vision of (take it easy, Zeppelin fans), a stairway to heaven, and angels ascending and descending it.  It was revealed to him that this place would be the land of his numerous descendants, so he names it Bethel, meaning "house of G-D."  So G-D's gonna watch out for him, and protect him from everything that might set him back on his journey, right?

Guess again.

Jacob pulled a fast one in order to receive his blind father's blessing.  Once he gets to Haran, and meets up with Laban, one of the least moral people in this realm, he gets his just desserts.  He checks out Laban's younger daughter, Rachel, and thinks she's a cutie.  He offers to work for Laban for seven years if he can marry Rachel, and Laban agrees.  So seven years pass, and guess how great the wedding was?  A fun time was had by all, except that he married the wrong bride.  Instead of Rachel, he ended up marrying her older sister, Leah.

When he confronted him on this, Laban explains, "We don't marry off the younger before the older," a veiled diss at him getting something his older brother should have received.  But to smooth it over, he says that he'll be able to marry Rachel next week.  So that results in exponentially multiplying the same issues that Abraham had with Hagar and Sarah.   Once again, we have a smallll issue of jealousy because somebody in the family is able to bear children, and someone can't.  To add insult to injury, after one bears all the children she's able to, not one, but two, maids are recruited to join the party to beget even more kiddies.  Finally, Rachel births the youngest child, and the one most likely to be around in the sequel.

Notice how these consequences aren't so clearly visited on everyone else who does something wrong?  How neat would it be if every swindle or screw job resulted in the swindler getting swindled?  How poetic would that justice be?

But real life doesn't work like that.  We have free will, and we have judgment handled by a higher authority that is not bound by our own individual senses of right and wrong.  Sometimes the boneheads and dirtbags get away with it.  Sometimes those who have authority over these bandejos get lazy or cowardly, and don't execute the judgment that should be executed.  Sometimes they get sneaky about it, and develop a skill to hide their misdeeds.

And the times when they do receive consequences?  It could be a message.  At the time these events occurred, the Ten Commandments and all subsequent prohibitions against immorality had not yet been Handed Down.  So the family tree that we followed was venturing through the twists and turns of life without a map, be it from Google or otherwise.  Apparently, our friends needed to learn, the hard way, that deception is not such a neat way to solve problems, and that having children with more than one spouse makes life much more complicated that it needs to be.  But before such truisms, that many of us consider common sense, were codified From Above, there had to be a few test cases so the future generations G-D assured to this family would learn from their mistakes.  Whether we have or haven't is our own responsibility, but these textbook examples of how to mess up a family's life are available for the faithful and the curious to learn from.  Anytime you choose . . . .

Oh, by the way, there's a friend of mine from years ago I've recently re-united with on Facebook who has been on a major daytime talk show to discuss the polyamorous lifestyle.  Back in the days before people started defining marriage between two people, this was a much more common occurrence than it is now, but there still are those who are actually able to juggle a committed romantic relationship between three or more people.  Whatever his situation is, I wish him well, as long as he and those closest to him or happy.  I'm sure he's responsible enough to not fall into the same traps that Abraham and Jacob did.