December 4th, 2011

torah

What are teraphim, and why did Rachel steal her father's?

In yesterday's parsha, we read: "And Rachel stole the teraphim that were her father's." [Gen. 31:19] One of the kids in the tefillah group that I lead on Shabbat mornings asked me why the Torah uses the word teraphim and not the more usual pesalim (idols), and I had to look it up. I'm glad I did, both because the answer is fascinating and because it also raises and addresses the question of Rachel's motive.

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