The richness of this Parsha overflows with treasures pure and delightful.
We see first of all in the opening line... And Jacob went forth from Beer-sheba, and went toward Haran Lets take this verse and see where consciousness takes it. Yaakov is the one who supplants or takes the place of the apparent heir of Yitzhak's blessing. What is this like? A King is building a palace and decides to use the timber that is close at hand in the forest nearby. It is strong wood but the King is still unsure about whether it is fitting to use this strand of forest for his palace building purposes. Then just as construction is about to begin the Queen comes back from a long journey with carts filled with the precious cedars of Lebanon. Because she knows that the King's palace must radiate with majesty she tells the chief architect to use the cedar wood instead of the trees from the forest that happens to be close at hand.
After Yaakov receives the blessing he leaves the well of the oath or the seven wells. What are these seven wells? They are the seven lower Sephiroth. Why does he leave? He is on a spiritual quest. His path lies in the direction of Haran where Abraham sojourned with his father Terah following their departure from Ur of the Chaldees. Haran is also Abrahams younger brother who died before they left for Haran. Confusing isn't it? Haran is both person and place. This kind of thing never occurs by accident in the Torah. Haran has the root of Heh Resh which symbolizes mountain or mountaineer. The significance of this word placed with a final nun at the end is of transition. Another indication of the transformation of this word Heh Resh is that when the Nun is place in front of the word as in Nahar its meaning is 'river' symbolic of the flowing movement of the life energy in contrast to the fixed state of a mountain. Haran the son of Terah transitioned from life to death. When Abram leaves Haran he becomes Abrahamand now when Yaakov heads towards Haran he is traveling towards his very own transition. The nun speaks to the transformation of the consciousness in regard to its journey towards unity between what is discovered above as in Chabad and what is being transformed below as in Zeir Anpin.
One of the many purposes of Torah is to lead into the understanding of these transformations so that we may be conscious of these in own life and apply the principles we learn in like manner. In addition the plan of Torah provides for both the connection above and the transformation below. What happens is that the more we are connected on high the greater our transformations below. Each feed the other in an unending flow of embrace and letting go.
Now when Yaakov lay his head upon a stone Aleph Beth Nun we have the combination of the Father Aleph-Beth, and the Son Beth-Nun. There are many ways to look at this through the Sephiroth perhaps seeing from Kether to Tiphereth or Chokmah through to Tiphereth. Regardless of our vantage point it is clear that Yaakov is about to undergo a transformation. The Sun setting symbolizes the passing of one level and the beginning of the next level. Whilst in the midst of his 'dream' the covenant made with Abraham and Yitzhak is repeated now with Yaakov. The ladder ascending to heaven represents the Torah interpretations given by the 'angels' or sages of Torah going to and from the higher levels called Heaven. When Yaakov returns from the realization of holiness he acknowledges YHVH attributed to this place, HaMahkom. Mahkom is repeated three times in the opening verses of Gen 28:11 to symbolize the transition through the upper triad of Chabad. Afterwards place is referred to singularly to indicate the unity that has occurred as a result. Place refers a state of consciousness that has been ascended to. The initial Mem and the Final Mem point to the waters above and the waters below. Kaph is the cup or hand that holds the water on either side. It is the container that holds the life force as it isdirected and connected through Vav the connecting element acting as a wire to guide the Shekinah through the upper triad in its return flow upwards through Zeir Anpin.
In a sense this journey of Yaakov is spiritually symbolic of the Shekinah's return and Yaakov's ultimate transformation into Israel. Yaakov then makes his vow to take upon himself YHVH to be his Elohim. He promises in effect to continually unify the above revelations with the lower transformations that face he and his brethren. He says that if he is allowed to return to his fathers house he will honor the blessing that he is given by promising to reach for the connection with YHVH and then giving to YHVH a tenth of all he is given by YHVH. This concept of giving to YHVH is tied to this verse here as well. Deuteronomy 8:3 that He might make thee know that man doth not live by bread only, but by every thing that proceedeth out of the mouth of the LORD doth man live. The tenth is given to YHVH because we should never become completely material in our aim. Always we need to recognize the presence of YHVH and to give our attention to part of life's experience. Another tie in comes from the Zohar Vayechi 14 which speaks about the bread that sustains the world and that one (the upper or Nukva) cannot exist without the lower Zeir Anpin similarly telling us that there is no transformation without ascension.
Yaakov having experienced this very thing promises to be true to what he has just experienced. Wherever Yaakov travels the people who are around him are going to be transformed just by being in his presence. His first act upon confirming that he is indeed in Haran the land of 'his people' is to roll back the stone of the well to water Rachel's flocks. The well represents the container for the consciousness (water) of Rachel's or the Shekinahs flocks. Although these are sheep they symbolize the greater family of Yaakov that will now become enlightened by his recent experiences. Yaakov weeps and kisses Rachel meaning that he is sharing the water (hisconsciousness of YHVH) with her and touching her with love.
This is such an incredible description of how the mind of man comes into contact with the Shekinah.
To continue...Jacob serves Laban to marry or become one with Rachel but instead is tricked into becoming one with Leah. The name Laban means "white". It represents loben ha-elyon, the "supernal whiteness" that transcends all "color" and classification. Thus "Laban" embodies the power of transformation -- because it is beyond classification, it bridges opposites and can transform a thing into its very extreme. (From Chabad.org website)
Yaakov wants to unify with the Shekinah seeking further transformation through the agency of Laban. When he marries or is with Leah he must perfect his understandingthrough the flowing tears of Leah symbolizing the energy of transformation that is now resulting in the many offspring she begins to bring forth. The first four children are Leah's, the next two through Bilhah are Rachel's, the next two through Zilpah are Leah's and then Leah conceives two more sons and a daughter. Finally Rachel conceives a son Joseph. All of these children symbolize the generation of the growth of the spiritual ideas that Yaakov has been planting within the Shekinah. Each child refers to a different kind of energy being manifested which I won't go into at this time. The point being that Yaakov's revelation has now had a chance to mature and reach the point of reproducing itself through the agencies of the four women of Laban's camp.
What about Laban's betrayal and Yaakov's subsequent ruse to maximize the strength of his herd? Let us presuppose that Laban represents a higher energy that somehow misses the mark by blocking YHVH expression in a fully realized revelation. (It is said somewhere in a MidrashI read that Laban later on morphs into Balaam who is hired to thwart Israel in their quest for their promised land.)
Yaakov first has his revelation but does not fully understand its implications (This is the beginning of Wisdom ala the Chabad triad and subsequent explanation).
Then he learns more about his revelation and its possible pitfalls as he is tested by Laban's philosophy, which allows for deceit. Still Yaakov remains because of Rachel and Leah both representing the Shekinah in its initial influx of the powers from above (Leah -tears or the waters of consciousness revealing the divine connection) and the returning flow (Rachel transforming through the extension of connection) upwards through Zeir Anpin.
Now there is Understanding learned through time and experience.
The final test will be when Yaakov wrestles with the angel completing the Chabad triad by adding Knowledge or the ability to transfer and explain this revelation. Laban pursues Yaakov and confronts him. It is Laban'sphilosophy that is in effect warring with Yaakov, however Laban is powerless to act even though it appears that he has the superior outward forces to overcome Yaakov because Rachel has taken the icon of his power, the Teraphim keeping it hidden by in thesaddle she was sitting upon on her camel. He could not act against Yaakov because of this. In another sense Rachel who symbolizes the Shekinah in her upward flow through Zeir Anpin was able to prevent the lower forces from pulling Yaakov back into the spells of illusion that were ultimately the conditions under which he was forced to accede to in Laban's camp.
Summary: We are seeing a progression of events that summarily repeat themselvesthroughout Torah. Every story that unfolds does so in the same manner as the opening phrases do in the beginning.
First there is the revelation of YHVH. Then there is the unfolding of the understanding that occurs due to this initial light that was revealed. In due course there occurs the journey away from the home into a place of darkness and yet even here the light is revealed. Abram and Yitzhak ventured out faced danger and then prospered receiving the revelation of YHVH. Both also returned to seed their faith so to speak. Yaakov repeats this by taking his own journey of return, which begins, with the confirmation of the revelation of YHVH. Then he enters Laban's camp where despite the presence of the Shekinah there is still darkness in the evil designs of Laban's philosophy, whichstill relies upon idols for the impregnation of spiritual power. Yaakov leaves just as his father and grandfather have done before him to find his own place. It is no coincidence that the closing verses of this Parsha conclude with: Gen 32:3-4 And Jacob went on his way, and the angels of God met him. 'This is God's camp.' And he called the name of that place Mahanaim. Shem hamakom hahu Mahanahim.
First he returns to his place that is his makom or his state of mind that accompanied him as a result of the original revelation. However now his reflections are called Mahanaim or 'two hosts, or two camps.' What Yaakov is reflecting upon is both the influx of the Shekinah coming in her downward flow signifying one camp and then the return flow signifying the second camp. Soon he will experience the unification of both camps as a result of his struggle in next week's Parsha. B'H"