Friday, January 20, 2017

Shemot: The Call of the Erev Rav

With the Book of Genesis behind us, we turn our attention this week to the Book of Exodus, and essentially the first stories of our ancestors as a people, as a nation. This book
is OUR story; it tells all about the Israelite experience in slavery, and how our God swooped in to rescue us from the bad guys, and gave us our Torah, and led us to our Promised Land. Genesis was everyone's story - detailing the creation of the world, the common ancestors of ALL people, and how monotheism was formed - but Exodus belongs entirely to the Jewish people. So how come the book is filled with so many non-Jews???

Right away, in this first Torah portion in Exodus, we learn about the midwives who saved Jewish children from Pharaoh's monstrous plan. In fact, this story shows up already in the very first chapter! Pharaoh
tells these two women, Shifrah and Puah, to kill all male babies born to the Israelite women (v. 16), but they refuse to do so out of fear of God (v. 17). They defiantly, and remarkably, lie to Pharaoh's face (v. 19), and are ultimately rewarded by God (v. 21). But that's not the only example. Pharaoh's own daughter scoops Moses out of the Nile and raises him as her son. After fleeing from Pharaoh, Moses finds shelter with a Midianite priest, Yitro, and soon marries his daughter. If you fast-forward a bit, when the Israelites eventually DO leave Egypt (sorry if I spoiled the surprise ending for you...), we are told that they leave with an "Erev Rav," a "mixed multitude" of other slaves and servants who seized the opportunity when mighty Egypt was vulnerable and snuck out too! For a story that's meant to be all about the Jews, there sure are a lot of non-Jewish players involved...

And that, I suppose, is my whole point. Our story is never just about us. Our successes and failures never occur in a vacuum, with no input from anyone else. The story of the Israelite
Exodus from Egypt serves as a vital reminder of our interdependence with all those who lived - and still live - around us in our community, our country, and indeed our shared world. I am especially aware of this right now. Just this past week, I had the incredible honor of delivering the keynote address at a Martin Luther King Day event at Calvary Baptist Church in Chester. Dr. King himself actually served as an associate pastor at Calvary Baptist in the late 1940s, under the tutelage of the Rev. J. Pius Barbour. It is hard for me to describe to you the feeling of awe, humility, and holiness that I felt standing at the same lectern as the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. It was unbelievable. There is actually an audio recording of the service available online, with some photos (though no video), which you can find here:

The speech I delivered was very similar to one I had given a year earlier at Crozer-Chester Hospital, and which you can read on the blog here. In it, I specifically mentioned this concept of the Erev Rav, the mixed multitude that left Egypt together, and which took responsibility for one another's fate. And several people who attended either last year or this year came up to me afterwards and said they had never heard about the
non-Israelites who also escaped from slavery. Indeed, even in our Jewish community, a lot of people don't know about this, and they also don't spend too much time thinking about the midwives, Pharaoh's daugther, or Yitro; we forget that OUR story is also THEIR story. But we shouldn't forget it, and we can't. Caring about other oppressed minorities, and worrying about the struggle for freedom, equality, acceptance, or citizenship of all people, these ARE Jewish issues! Too often we care only about what happens to other Jews - in the US, or Russia, Ethiopia, Syria, or France - and we demand that others be vigilant about anti-Semitism. But it's a two-way street. Our fates are intertwined, and together we are ALL the Erev Rav. As we continue to read the story of the Exodus, let us remember all of Martin Luther King's incredible teachings, and let us see everyone's struggle as our own struggle. The battle against oppression is NEVER a zero-sum game, where my success is your failure or vice versa. We all have to work together, and we have to fight the Pharaoh's of every generation together as one.

Photos in this blog post:
1. CC image courtesy of Jim Padgett on Wikimedia Commons
2.CC image courtesy of Jim Padgett on Wikimedia Commons
3. Image from CCityBlogger's video on YouTube
4. CC image of refugees (in this case, Jewish, but they could be from anywhere, no?) courtesy of German Federal Archives on Wikimedia Commons

Friday, January 13, 2017

Va-Yechi: Taking Stock... For Better or Worse

It is hard to take stock, and to feel appreciation and gratitude, when we are also angry and frustrated. These emotions are just too far apart, and
they feel too incongruent to be able to hold them up at the same time. But sometimes we have to. Or we have to push ourselves to try. Right now, as we prepare for the Presidential Inauguration, most people in this country are feeling SOMETHING about that process. It is a significant political shift, and whether you have spent eight years feeling frustrated, or are apprehensive about what lies ahead, or something else along that spectrum; it is certainly also a moment to take stock. So how do we make that happen?

Our Torah portion gives us an example of what I'm talking about, but I don't know if it really helps us figure out HOW to do it ourselves. But let's start there and see where we go. This week's parashah concludes the Book of Genesis.
We read about the deaths of Jacob and his son, Joseph, and we shift from the story of one family, to that of an entire nation. As Jacob nears the end of his life, we see a lot of mixed emotions. He has regrets and frustrations, unresolved anger and grievances. He laments having to bury his beloved wife, Rachel, by the side of the road rather than in the family tomb. He rebukes several of his sons for their bad behavior and poor choices. He expresses sadness over the heartbreak and loss he has endured. And yet, he also acknowledges how lucky he is as well. There is a beautiful, though often overlooked, moment in our reading, where Jacob is about to bless his grandsons, Menashe and Ephraim. He kisses each of them, then turns to his son, Joseph, and exclaims: "I never expected to see you again, and here God has let me see your children as well" (Gen. 48:11). What a gift! What an unbelievable blessing. He thought his favored son was gone forever, and now, not only have the two men been reunited, but Jacob will be able to die knowing Joseph's line is secured. It is an uplifting moment of gratitude and tremendous blessing.

This is hard for us to do. I just want to say that, because inevitably someone will say to me, "You know, you make it sound so easy!" Well, I'm sorry then, because I don't mean to. It IS hard. Can we look back on the past and say "thank you" for good things, successes, breakthroughs, and triumphs... even when we also feel sadness, anger, and
disillusionment? And if we're scared and worried about the future, can we also embrace the potential of it, the new possibilities and ways in which our eyes may be opened? The children of Israel probably had high hopes for their rapidly expanding family, and their new life in Egypt. But surely they were not so naive as to think nothing could POSSIBLY go wrong?? The future is uncertain and precarious. Yet they were optimistic. And, for a time, they were right. Last week, I wrote about blessings inside curses, and vice versa. Today I want us to hold onto the full range of emotions, and be truly thankful, without the need to say "yes, but..." or wanting to qualify or mitigate our feelings.

This weekend is also the time when we remember Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. His is a legacy of hope and optimism. Not because he saw the fruits of his labor or lived in a world where he was accepted and
beloved, and certainly not because he was too naive or wide-eyed. None of that was true. And yet, he never lost faith. Hope is a choice. Sure, we should also face the reality of the challenges we face, and be vigilant and outspoken about issues that concern us. But we CAN do all that and STILL be hopeful and grateful, positive and optimistic. Dr. King once said, "We must accept finite disappointment, but never lose infinite hope." This is not a factual description of how things are; it is a choice. Slavery in Egypt happened. Civil Rights happened. And in another week, an Inauguration will happen. Those are facts. But we still get to choose hope, and we get to choose to see the blessings in our lives and name them.

Photos in this blog post:
1. CC image courtesy Prolineserver on Wikimedia Commons
2.CC image of Jacob blessing his grandchildren, courtesy of Internet Archive Book Images on Wikimedia Commons
3. CC image courtesy of AEN-commonswiki on Wikimedia Commons
4. CC image courtesy of Thomson200 on Wikimedia Commons

Friday, January 6, 2017

Va-Yigash: A Blessing inside a Curse inside a Blessing

Life certainly is unpredictable. So much of our time is spent trying to create order and structure, get into habits and rhythms, and plodding along in our day-to-day lives. And then, in an instant, things get
upended. Sometimes change is good, sometimes it's bad, but the one thing we can count on is that change WILL happen. We don't get to control it, and we don't get to determine when it happens. We can, however, decide how to respond to it, and how to move forward. And, I might add, we can also choose to reserve judgment as to whether unexpected occurrences are positive or negative. What seems like a blessing may, in fact, be a curse, and a terrible turn of events may ultimately lead to incredible opportunities. So, what the heck am I talking about?

Let me start with the Biblical example. Our parashah opens with Jacob's sons trapped in Egypt, pleading their case before a very hostile Egyptian vizier. One brother is being held hostage, a second is at risk, and the other brothers are beside themselves trying to survive and
escape. Things look bleak. Then, in an instant, the vizier reveals himself to be Joseph, their long-lost brother, and EVERYTHING changes. The whole family moves down to Egypt, food is secured, family members are reunited, and a devastating curse turns into a miraculous blessing. And yet, you and I, the story's readers, also know that around the corner waits another curse; enslavement in Egypt. BUT, one could argue that we wouldn't have become a mighty nation if it weren't for our bondage. Would we have received the Torah, if we hadn't been forced to wander for 40 years in the desert? Another blessing, hidden within a curse.

As you can probably guess - and as most of you surely know from your own lives - this isn't just about the Biblical world. A couple of years ago, I was in a minor car crash. It wasn't terrible, and (thank God) I was fine. But at the time it seemed like a very real curse, a terribly unfortunate event that brought chaos and
trauma. However, a few months later, that seemingly awful crash led to several positive changes in my life that were quite unexpected. Does that mean the car accident was "good"? No. But I did feel blessed to see the opportunities that presented themselves in the midst of a bad situation. This past fall, we had a horrible mold problem develop in our home. My family's life was disrupted, and it seemed like an enormous curse that lasted for months. Yet, on the other end we discovered that we had deepened relationships within the community, were able to make some improvements on our house, felt a renewed sense of gratitude for simple conveniences, and I even got a few good sermon topics out of it for the High Holidays! It was still not a predicament I would have wished upon myself (or anyone else, for that matter), but again, we don't decide WHAT happens in life. We can only choose how to react, and then look for blessings and opportunities hidden under the surface.

When Joseph eventually makes his true identity known to his brothers, he declares to them: "I am your brother Joseph, whom you sold into Egypt. Now, do not be distressed or angry with yourselves for selling me here, because it was to save lives that God sent me ahead of you."
(Genesis 45:4-5) How long do you think it took Joseph to see God's plan hidden inside his terrible predicament? It probably took a LONG time. If he could do it, so can we. I'm not saying it's easy, but it CAN be done. Life throws us so many curve balls, it can sometimes feel unbearable. But our story does not have to end with the curse. On the very opposite end of the Torah, in the Book of Deuteronomy, God says: "See, I set before you this day blessing and curse." (11:26) Our lives are filled with both the good and the bad. It is unavoidable. The choice to label which thing as "blessing" and which as "curse" is entirely up to us. In this new year, I encourage you to push yourself to pick ONE instance where you see life sending you a curse, and reframe it into a blessing. I think you'll find that it uncovers and changes more than you could have even imagined.

Happy New Year!

Photos in this blog post:
1. CC image courtesy Benzoyl on Wikimedia Commons
2.CC image courtesy of Turelio on 
Wikimedia Commons
3. Picture of our shower stall back in September. Don't ask...

CC image courtesy of Aldine1984 on Wikimedia Commons

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Mikeitz/Shabbat Chanukah: In Search of a Reason (repost)

Every year, when the holiday of Chanukah comes around again, I inevitably hear from people that they feel a need to 'defend' themselves to Christians. 'No, this isn't the Jewish Christmas!' By which we mean 
that it isn't as 'important' to us as Christmas is to them. Though what's really fascinating about this to me - having spent a fair amount of time with my Christian colleagues in the clergy - is that Christmas isn't really as religiously significant to Christians either! Their primary holiday is actually Easter, and many Christians feel that Christmas has become incredibly commercialized and materialistic, which leads to such campaigns as 'Keep Christ in Christmas,' and '[Don't forget] the Reason for the Season.' When you really get down to it, I don't think the two struggles, for Jews or Christians, are really all that different.

An extension of the complaint I hear about explaining Chanukah to non-Jewish neighbors is how 'Americanized' the holiday has become. I know, I know, it used to be SUCH a simple and innocent holiday (in our flawless childhood...), and Hallmark, Toys R' Us, and Zales came along and ruined it for us. But the commercialization has also kept our holiday alive, hasn't it? 
It's kept
 it vibrant in the minds of children, families, and our neighbors, and it's certainly in no risk of disappearing anytime soon. My point is, it's a mixed bag, and all things evolve and change. Some people think it's terrific and others think it's horrible. What's truly ironic, in my opinion, is that this tension is actually at the heart of the message of Chanukah itself; the interplay between religion and society, between sacred and profane. The heroic Maccabees actually incorporated many Greek practices into their reign, while still remaining distinctly Jewish. The medieval sage, Rav Ovadiah Sforno writes about the elevated middle light on our Chanukiah, the Shamash, and how all the other candles should shine towards it. He explains why this is important: "extremists on both ends of the spectrum need to focus on the middle road, which is symbolized by the central light of the menorah." Sforno is reminding us that there needs to be a balance of the religious and the secular.

This sentiment creates a perfect segue into our Torah portion. You see, Chanukah always falls on one of the 
parshiot that deal with the life of our ancestor, Joseph. Rabbi Danny Nevins exclaims, "who could be a better exemplar of the challenges of living in two worlds than the grand vizier of Egypt?" Joseph starts out as a lowly prisoner, but then
quickly rises to become the second-in-command of the empire, and along the way changes his clothes, his language, even his name. Yet underneath it all, he never stops identifying as Joseph. Every Shabbat around the dinner table, we bless our sons to be like Joseph's two children, Ephraim and Menashe, because they maintained their Jewish identity, even while being raised in the palaces of Egypt. In many ways, we are both blessing them, our children, and also ourselves. They remain Jewish because we impart our traditions and our values to them, regardless of the society in which we raise them.

Sure, Chanukah might have a giant billboard along I-95 and countless obnoxious (I mean, wonderful) 
YouTube videos. But we're not the only ones dealing with the tension of wanting to preserve holiness while being overwhelmed by
over-exposure. Nor are we the first ones to deal with this challenge within our own religion! In a sense, we need to embrace the silly with the sanctified, the cheesy with the cherished. It's an inherent part of this holiday, and it's been a part of our heritage since Joseph first tried to figure out how much Egyptian music to let his kids listen to. We're all struggling to find that middle path, to keep shining towards the middle light. It ain't easy, but you know what? I think THAT is precisely the Reason for the Season.

Chag Urim Sameach - Happy Festival of Lights!

Photos in this blog post:
1. CC image courtesy Shoshanah on Flickr
2.CC image courtesy of skpy on Flickr
3. CC image courtesy of upyernoz on Flickr
4. Image courtesy of Rabbi Gerber's iPhone and a shmaltzy looking Chanukiah in my office window. :-)

Friday, December 23, 2016

Va-Yeishev: An Equal Measure of Providence and Prudence

Sometimes, when you're struggling with a problem, you've got to "Give it up to God." Then again, sometimes you don't. Hearing me use that
phrase may surprise some of you, because it isn't generally a Jewish phrase. More often, you hear Christians speak of "Giving [x] to God," meaning that we leave a decision, a problem, or fate in general in the Hands of God to decide. It is not ours to control. And the reason you don't hear this too often in Judaism is because our tradition really wrestles with this concept. Last week, the Torah spoke about Jacob being renamed Yisrael, which is very appropriate, because it means "one who wrestles with God." Indeed, we are all Yisrael! Right? So let's wrestle.

In the Torah this week, we see strong evidence of that same tension, and we actually see it in the Jewish calendar as well. Our parashah introduces us to Joseph, and on Saturday night we begin to celebrate the holiday of Chanukah. In BOTH stories, we see people struggling with human agency versus Divine Providence.
Let's first examine each separately. The way Joseph's life plays out, it seems to be orchestrated from On High. Dreams come to him at night, in which he rules over his family, and his brothers hate him for those visions. God gives him charisma, a strong work ethic, and the ability to interpret the dreams of others, which first helps him gain status, then gets him thrown in jail, and then again elevates him to prominence in Pharaoh's court. Later, a famine brings the brothers groveling before Joseph, allowing him to exact revenge, though ultimately also reuniting him with his family. Indeed, everything is truly in the Hands of God.

And yet, Joseph is the one who CHOOSES to share his dreams with his brothers. He decides to offer dream interpretations, and when Potiphar's wife makes advances, he remains resolute in resisting her. God is certainly present throughout Joseph's life, but Joseph himself is not a passive bystander. The question is,
where does one end and the other begin? It is not easy to determine, and I think that is intentional. The same can be said for the Chanukah story. We celebrate two miracles on this holiday, and each was firmly orchestrated by God. The Maccabees defeated the mighty Assyrian-Greeks, and the precious Temple oil inexplicably kept the Menorah lit for eight nights. On the battlefield, however, I'm quite sure the Maccabees felt they had SOMETHING to do with their victory! And whoever was measuring out TINY spoonfuls of oil surely felt his/her own vigilance and prudence paid off...

This, I think, is the whole point. When we simplify the answer to "give it up to God," we are missing the importance of our own efforts, care, and dedication. We matter! We cannot be passive, complacent, indifferent spectators; we need to get in the game. On the other hand,
when we marvel at our own talents and declare ourselves to have single-handedly saved the day, we are ignoring God's role in our lives, which is often quite significant and vital. There is great humility in acknowledging Divine Providence, and I believe it gives us more clarity and mindfulness. In essence, we need both. Joseph and Judah Maccabee were each indeed the masters of their own destiny, and they solidified their rightful place in our Jewish history books... and they also heavily relied on God to help them along the way. And in the end, the true miracle is that we are able to partner with God. That reciprocal, interdependent, mutually beneficial partnership is more precious than any other gift this holiday season.

Chag Urim Sameach - Happy Chanukah!

Photos in this blogpost:
1. CC image of Alexander Louis Leloir's "Jacob Wrestling with the Angel" courtesy of Raul654 on Wikimedia Commons
2. CC image of Mikalojus Konstantinas Ciurlionis' "Joseph's Dream" courtesy of Kobac on Wikimedia Commons
3. CC image courtesy of Netojinn on Wikimedia Commons
4. CC image courtesy of Andrzej O on Wikimedia Commons

Friday, December 16, 2016

Va-Yishlach: I Alone!

There is a tension that exists in all of us. Two competing desires, that perhaps are in us from birth. As many of you know, I have a four-year
old daughter, and now also a five-month old son, and I see how it manifests in each of them, so very, very clearly. It is the tension between self-reliance and interdependence; "I can do it myself!" and "I need help!" Often, it may seem like a childhood struggle, and one that we solve or resolve as adults. Though in truth, I actually think it is a tension and a battle that persists within us throughout life. This week, we see our ancestor, Jacob, demonstrate his own version of this fight, both emotionally and physically; and I invite all of us to seize this opportunity to introspect and recognize the conflict inside ourselves as well.

Jacob has had to make it on his own for a long time. After he stole his father's blessing and his brother, Esau, threatened to kill him, he had to flee and survive by his own wits, surrounded by hostile relatives and trickery. I suppose you COULD say that
he pulled himself up by his boot (or sandal) straps. And yet, did he do it ALL on his own? Does anyone ever really? God was surely with him throughout his journey, and he DID find allies and supporters along the way. But that's why I call it "tension"! We all want to make it on our own, and sometimes society even puts a zap on our heads to make us think it's "better" if we made it alone. Needing help, sharing the burden, getting someone else to chip in; these might seem like "cop-outs," like settling. So we work incredibly hard (AND tell ourselves stories) so that we can truly say we made it on our own.

When our Torah portion opens, Jacob is preparing to face Esau once again. He's frightened. He prays to God in this moment, and you can almost hear the struggle between self-reliance and interdependence in
his plea to God: "...with my staff alone I crossed this Jordan, and now I have become two camps. Deliver me, I pray, from the hand of my brother" (Gen. 32:11-12). We do this, right? Memory changes images, and reinforces personal narratives; Jacob remembers crossing the Jordan entirely alone, with NO help, and now just look at all he's achieved... ALONE! But God was there, and Jacob DID receive assistance along the way. But many of us remember our own efforts, our single-handed accomplishments... and we forget some of the other "minor" players who may-or-may-not have been there as well.

And again, that's human. It's ok. The tension is, indeed, in all of us. It does, however, become a problem when we judge others, and the whole world, for not being able to do what we - in our minds - were able to do. "I made it on my own, so you should too!"
It's problematic, because none of us ACTUALLY achieved success or gained wisdom entirely alone. We all need help, and we all rely on others, even when we don't realize it. Perhaps we benefited from a family name, or an inheritance... or societal/racial privilege; but one way or another, we are all interdependent. That is why religion - all religion - is so emphatic about giving thanks! From the moment a child is born, we try to teach her/him to be thankful and grateful. So remember Jacob, and this very human struggle. It's ok to feel like you did it all on your own. Everyone feels that way sometimes. But remember there are two sides to every coin, and that with gratitude and interdependence comes a lot of much-needed humility.

Oh, and just for the record, I wrote this blog post entirely on my own. No help from anyone!!

Photos in this blogpost:
1. Caroline and Max (my kids), December, 2016.
2. CC image courtesy of ChiaraS91 on Wikimedia Commons
3. CC image courtesy of U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Southeast Region on Wikimedia Commons
4. CC image courtesy of Shalom on Wikimedia Commons

Friday, December 9, 2016

Va-Yeitzei: Noticing the Mystery Around Us

Sometimes we miss things - important things - even when they are right under our noses. I think most of us know this to be true, at least on a theoretical level, but then we're still surprised when it happens to us personally. We often like to think
of Judaism as a very sensible, rational religion. Not a lot of hocus-pocus or fairy dust. Sure, the texts of our tradition include plagues, splitting seas, and talking animals, but that was ancient "stuff," and it doesn't really fit into our worldview, at least not any more. Well, it often shocks people to learn that Judaism used to, hundreds of years ago, incorporate a lot of magical elements in the practice of our religion. Demons, spirits, amulets, and secret incantations were commonplace! And a lot of that Jewish mysticism still exists today, sometimes even right under our noses, we just don't always look at it. I think maybe it's time we take a peak...

This weekend, Ohev Shalom is hosting a Scholar-in-Residence weekend, and our guest is Dr. Joel Hecker. Dr. Hecker is a professor of Jewish mysticism, so this weekend Ohev is going to get a little weird
and supernatural. Our lecture topics include terms like "Kabbalistic Kissing," "Magical Powers in the Jewish Tradition," and "Food-Sparks in the Chasidic Imagination." Admittedly, these concepts are a little outside our comfort zone, as a community and for me personally. But Jewish mysticism and the Kabbalah are actually essential parts of our people's history. We shouldn't censor any aspect of our heritage, and this is one side that often gets overlooked or casually dismissed. Perhaps we can stop for a moment and delve into it, and let's see what happens. I believe that engaging with this material can help us understand ourselves a bit better, and may give us a new perspective on other parts of our own lives.

This week in the Torah, our ancestor Jacob has a similar experience. Jacob isn't looking for spirituality. He is on the run from his vengeful brother, Esau, and is just trying to survive, alone, in the desert, on his way to live with his untrustworthy uncle, Laban. He is stressed, anxious, and sleep-deprived. Then, all of a sudden,
he has an incredibly powerful encounter with God. He has a vision at night, in which angels are ascending and descending a Heavenly ladder, and God then appears, promising Jacob protection and future prosperity. Jacob wakes up with a start, and proclaims, "Surely Adonai is in this place, and I did not know it!" He continues, "How awesome is this place!! This is none other than the House of God, and that is the Gateway to Heaven!" (Gen. 28:16-17) I think often we assume that God exists in certain places at certain times; either in synagogue, on mountain tops, or in Grand Canyons. Or maybe we don't believe God exists anywhere on earth... if at all. But then, almost magically, we may encounter God, or some Divine spark or spiritual moment, and it catches us off guard. I can relate to Jacob's astonishment. Sometimes the world isn't all about rational explanations and mundane answers; weird, inexplicable things CAN happen.

The question is, can we keep ourselves open to those occurrences? Are we able to still be surprised by the world, and to leave open the
possibility of wonder and amazement? As rational, scientific, sensible adults, we work pretty hard to close off that side of ourselves. "There's no such thing as magic!" we declare confidently. But perhaps we can also find just a little room for awe, in the old-school meaning of the word, where we remain open to the possibility of Divine encounters and stair-climbing angels? I truly believe it can open us up to new ways of thinking and feeling, and maybe offer new insights into our everyday lives. We think we know it all, but sometimes we need to humble ourselves to say "God is here, in this place, and I had no idea!" It can be really freeing.

So, are you ready to bring a little mysticism into your life?

Photos in this blogpost:
1. CC image of Robert Anning Bell's "un vol de fées," courtesy of Pimbrils on Wikimedia Commons
2. CC image of Ambrosio Alciati's "The Kiss," courtesy of Pimbrils on Wikimedia Commons
3. CC image of James Tissot's "Jacob's Dream," courtesy of Shakko on Wikimedia Commons
4. CC image courtesy of Shalom on Wikimedia Commons