Torah Weekly

For the week ending 25 November 2017 / 7 Kislev 5778

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.


Our Place

“Lavan said, ‘Such is not done in our place, to give the younger before the elder.” (13:17)

It’s not what you say — it’s the way you say it.

In the dead of night, the poacher makes his way across the moonlit field to the pond. At this chill hour the chance of being caught by the gamekeeper is extremely slim. Silently he lowers himself down and peers into the shimmering waters of the pool. Beautiful large trout are lazily meandering this way and that. A thin smile spreads across his face. He rummages for his lures and his bait.


A powerful flashlight blinds the poacher’s eyes.

The gamekeeper stares down triumphantly at his catch.

“I see you can’t read signs,” says the gamekeeper.

“What signs?” says the poacher.

“The one above your head that says: No Fishing Allowed.”

“Ahh!” says the poacher, “No — you’re reading that the wrong way. It says: No! ... Fishing Allowed.”

“Lavan said, ‘Such is not done in our place, to give the younger before the elder.'”

Lavan was snidely hinting here to Yaakov, “In our place it is not done that the younger precedes the elder. Maybe where you come from you give the birthright to the younger before the elder as happened with you and your brother Esav — but not in our place.”

  • Source: Beit HaLevi

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