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30:36 He then separated himself from Jacob by the distance of a three day journey. Jacob was left tending Laban's remaining sheep.
Vayasem derech shloshet yamim beyno uveyn Ya'akov veYa'akov ro'eh et-tson Lavan hanotarot.
30:37 Jacob took wands of fresh storax, almond and plane. He peeled white stripes in them by uncovering the white layer under the wands' [bark].
Vayikach-lo Ya'akov makal livneh lach veluz ve'armon vayefatsel bahen petsalot levanot machsof halavan asher al-hamaklot.


three day journey
  According to the Talmud (Pesachim 93b), a day's journey is 10 parsangs or approximately 34 miles. (The Talmud thus defines the distance between Jerusalem and Mod'in, a distance of 17 miles, as being 15 mil or 5 parsangs). A three day journey was therefore 102 miles.

  (Ibn Janach; Radak, Sherashim; Septuagint). Livneh in Hebrew, a 'white tree.' It was believed to have occult powers, and was sacred to idolators (Hosea 4:13). The storax (styrax) has white blossoms (cf. Targum Yonathan), and its bark yields a brown, vanilla-scented resin when it is peeled. Others, however, identify the livneh as the white poplar (populus alba), a tree having white bark (Rashi on Hosea 4:13; cf. Septuagint there). Here Rashi translates it as tremble, French for aspen, a species of poplar. Others translate it as elm (Radak on Hosea 4:13). A possible allusion to Laban.

  (Saadia Gaon, quoted in Radak, Sherashim; cf. Targum on 17:23). Luz in Hebrew; see Genesis 28:19. In Arabic, an almond is loz. Others, however, translate luz as hazel. Rashi thus translates it as coudre (coudrier), French for hazel, and Radak (Sherashim) translates it as avelanier (alveane), Spanish for hazel. (See Tosafoth, Bekhoroth 8a, s.v. Tarnegoleth).

  Armon in Hebrew. The Septuagint translates it as platanes, the plane tree. It is called armon because its bark peels off the trunk, leaving it naked (arum). There might also be an allusion to Laban's trickery (armah; Lekach Tov). The reference is to the oriental plane (planatus orientalis). This is a tall tree, with a trunk as great as 18 feet in diameter, having a lofty crest (cf. Ezekiel 31:8). It is like the sycamore, and was very common in the Middle East. Later sources, however, identify the armon as the chestnut tree (Rashi; Radak, Sherashim). This is difficult to understand, since the chestnut did not grow in Mesopotamia where Jacob was (also see Tosafoth, Rosh HaShanah 23a, s.v. Armonim, Sukkah 32b, s.v. Dulba, Bava Bathra 81a, s.v. Armonim).

he peeled...
  It appears that by deep meditation on the wands, Jacob was able to direct spiritual energy and actually to change the genetic structure of the sheep (Bereshith Rabbah 73; Midrash Tehillim 8:6; Tanchuma B 24; Midrash HaGadol). Kabbalistic sources note that at this time, Jacob was manipulating some of the highest spiritual forces that exist (Zohar 161a, 163a; Etz Chaim, Shaar HaAkudim). See Genesis 31:12.

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