For the week ending 28 November 2009 / 10 Kislev 5770

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.


Double Duty

“And Yaakov left Be'er Sheva and went to Charan.” (25:10)

G-d blesses the righteous that their physical actions effect the maximum spiritual impact.

Rashi asks on the above verse why the Torah related from where Yaakov left. What difference did it make from where he came? Isn’t the destination all that’s important?

Sometimes, when we leave one place and go to another our intention is to leave where we are, and sometimes it is to reach where we’re going. Here, however, Yaakov had both of these intentions in mind.

His mother Rivka told him to flee Be'er Sheva to escape the murderous intentions of his brother Eisav, and therefore Yaakov’s intention was to fulfill his mother’s command and leave Be'er Sheva. On the other hand, his father Yitzchak sent Yaakov to Charan to find a wife from amongst the daughters of Lavan and not from the daughters of Canaan, and thus Yaakov’s intention was not to leave but to arrive.

Thus Yaakov was able to fulfill the mitzvah of honoring both his father and his mother in two different ways with one and the same action.

  • Source: Beit HaLevi in Mayana shel Torah

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