Torah Weekly

For the week ending 9 November 2013 / 6 Kislev 5774

Parshat Vayeitzei

by Rabbi Yaakov Asher Sinclair -
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Fleeing from Esav, Yaakov leaves Be'er Sheva and sets out for Charan, the home of his mother's family. After a 14-year stint in the Torah Academy of Shem and Ever, he resumes his journey and comes to Mount Moriah, the place where his father Yitzchak was brought as an offering, and the future site of the Beit Hamikdash. He sleeps there and dreams of angels going up and down a ladder between Heaven and earth. G-d promises him the Land of Israel, that he will found a great nation, and that he will enjoy Divine protection. Yaakov wakes and vows to build an altar there and tithe all that he will receive. Then he travels to Charan and meets his cousin Rachel at the well. He arranges with her father, Lavan, to work seven years for her hand in marriage, but Lavan fools Yaakov, substituting Rachels older sister, Leah. Yaakov commits himself to work another seven years in order to also marry Rachel. Leah bears four sons: Reuven, Shimon, Levi and Yehuda, the first Tribes of Israel. Rachel is barren, and in an attempt to give Yaakov children, she gives her handmaiden Bilhah to Yaakov as a wife. Bilhah bears Dan and Naftali. Leah also gives Yaakov her handmaiden Zilpah, who bears Gad and Asher. Leah then bears Yissachar, Zevulun, and a daughter, Dina. Hashem finally blesses Rachel with a son, Yosef. Yaakov decides to leave Lavan, but Lavan, aware of the wealth Yaakov has made for him, is reluctant to let him go, and concludes a contract of employment with him. Lavan tries to swindle Yaakov, but Yaakov becomes extremely wealthy. Six years later, Yaakov, aware that Lavan has become dangerously resentful of his wealth, flees with his family. Lavan pursues them but is warned by G-d not to harm them. Yaakov and Lavan agree to a covenant and Lavan returns home. Yaakov continues on his way to face his brother Esav.


Waiting to Rust

"Then Rachel and Leah replied and said to him, ‘Have we then still a share and an inheritance in our fathers house? Are we not considered as strangers? So whatever G-d has said to you, do’." (31:14-16)

There’s a widespread misunderstanding about why people are religious. It runs something like this. Okay. I’m prepared to sacrifice something of my pleasure in this world so that I can get a piece of the action in the next. I don’t mind refraining from the occasional BLT or McDonalds, because I believe the Big Macs are bigger on the ‘other side’.

Even those of us who like to think of ourselves as religious, if questioned, may subscribe to this line of thinking.

Nothing could be further from the truth.

A person should feel that he is giving nothing up of this world because this world has nothing to give him.

Let me give you an example:

Tuesday morning. You finally get the call. You’ve waited for two full months. And now it’s here. Your champagne-metallic luxury turbodeisel 4x4 has arrived at the car dealer. Your heartbeat leaps to 120 beats a minute. Your mouth dries up. You jump into the nearest taxi and sit there lost in the glow of expectation. You arrive at the showroom. The car dealer hands you the keys. This is the moment you’ve been waiting for. You slide behind the wheel. The smell of leather and "new car" is more potent than the latest Paris perfume. You turn the key and the engine purrs into life. You ease the car out of the parking lot and cruise down the main drag of the city real slow.

Riding a wild set of wheels at an easy pace.


A couple of months later, you’ve already scratched the champagne metallic paint in more than a few places, and the front fender shows the battle scars of a shopping expedition to the mall.

Why can’t new cars stay new? What happens to that smell of new-car? Does the factory send out a fragrance recall on it? And what happens to the feeling of new car? Why does it always turn into a gas-guzzling insurance-eating rusting heap?

Nothing in this world that is solely of this world brings you real happiness.

Compare this to the feeling that comes from praying, even with a little bit of concentration. Most of us, at some time or another, have had this beautiful experience. And that feeling is second only to the feeling of learning Torah that’s the most exquisite experience in the world. And it’s a genuine pleasure that stays with you. Not like this week’s new purchase that fills you with pride and desire and then comes to collect from you a heavy debt, both physically and spiritually.

"Then Rachel and Leah replied and said to him, ‘Have we then still a share and an inheritance in our fathers house? Are we not considered as strangers? So whatever G-d has said to you, do’."

You could very easily misunderstand what Rachel and Leah meant by the above statement. You could very easily think that they were saying that the only reason to do what G-d said was because they had no share or inheritance in their father’s house, that they were considered as strangers, but if that were not the case, then Yaakov should not do what G-d said!

What Rachel and Leah were really saying was that they understood that leaving their father’s house was in no way a sacrifice for them. For they felt estranged from everything that Lavan’s house represented.

Life’s true pleasure is to be close to G-d. Everything else is like a pile of steel waiting to rust.

  • Based on Lev Eliyahu

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