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Parshas Vayeitzei - Vol. 11, Issue 7
Compiled by Oizer Alport
Those who pay careful attention to the parsha while reviewing it or during its public reading on Shabbos will note a curious fact: unlike almost every other parsha in the Torah, Parshas Vayeitzei contains no breaks from start to finish. It is written in the Sefer Torah without any of the customary spaces which indicate the beginning of a new section within the parsha. As there are no coincidences in the Torah, what is the reason for this anomaly?
Rav Chaim Shmuelevitz explains that Parshas Vayeitzei contains a number of subplots: Yaakov's flight from Eisav, Yaakov's dealings with his tricky father-in-law Lavan, Yaakov's relationship with his wives Rochel and Leah and the interactions between the two women, the birth of the tribes, and Yaakov's flight from Lavan back to the land of his parents. When examining any of these episodes in its own light, a number of difficult and seemingly unanswerable questions present themselves.
The Torah intentionally structured Parshas Vayeitzei as one long and continuously unfolding narrative to teach that it is impossible to split up the various events contained therein and judge any of them in a vacuum. Rather, each episode is just one small piece of a much larger picture, one which can only begin to be understood when one steps back and views it in the context of the bigger picture.
The Darkei Mussar relates a profound story about a Chassidic Rebbe - Rav Shimon of Yaroslav - who merited living until well past the age of 100. When he was asked in what merit he had enjoyed such a long and healthy life, he responded with words packed with wisdom: "Don't think that I've had an easy life. I've had my share of difficulties and pain just like everybody else. If anything, because I've lived longer, I've had more occasions and opportunities to suffer. It would have been very easy and natural to complain to Hashem, 'Why did this have to happen? Why couldn't that have turned out differently?'
"However, I was afraid that if I began demanding a justification and explanation of Hashem's ways, the Heavenly Court would say, 'If this Rabbi wants answers so badly, let's call him up here and give them to him!' So I never asked any of these types of questions. I didn't have any more answers than anybody else, but because I never asked for them, they let me stay down here for quite some time!"
As the Torah was written for all generations, it is clear that the lessons contained therein are applicable to every person throughout the ages. The lesson of needing to view events in the context of a larger perspective can be extrapolated to the situations which occur in each of our lives. We should realize that although we don't always understand the ways of Hashem, we nevertheless must trust that everything that happens is part of His larger master plan, which we will one day merit to comprehend.
When Yaakov encountered his future wife Rochel, he began to cry. Rashi explains that in contrast to Eliezer, who arrived at Rivkah's house carrying fine jewelry and presents, Yaakov greeted Rochel and her family empty-handed. Although he set out with appropriate gifts along with the rest of his possessions, he was accosted on his journey by his nephew Elifaz. Elifaz was commanded by his father Eisav to chase the fleeing Yaakov and kill him, but he was hesitant to do so. Instead, he took all of Yaakov's possessions except for his staff (Rashi 32:11), as the Gemora in Nedorim (64b) teaches that a poor person is considered as if he is dead, and this was considered a partial fulfillment of Eisav's instructions to kill Yaakov. Where is this episode hinted to in the Torah?
Rav Yehuda Assad points out that the letters comprising the words (28:10) "Mi'Be'er Sheva vayeilech Charanah - (Yaakov traveled) from Be'er Sheva, and he went to Charan - are an abbreviation for "Mi'yad ba Elifaz rasha she'hu bein Eisav vayiten Yaakov lo kol cheilo, rak nishar ha'makal - Immediately the wicked Elifaz the son of Eisav came, and Yaakov gave him all of his possessions, and all that remained was his staff. Similarly, the Gan Yosef notes that the letters in the words (29:13) "es kol ha'devorim ha'eileh" - (Yaakov told Lavan) all of the things that had happened - are an abbreviation for "al tomar ki lo haveisi davar, b'rov rechus yatzasi mi'beisi, halach Elifaz, lakach hakol" - Don't say that I didn't bring anything; I left my house with a tremendous amount of possessions, but Elifaz came and took them all.
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Parsha Points to Ponder (and sources which discuss them):
1) Rashi writes (29:25) that in order to prevent potential trickery by Lavan, Yaakov gave certain simanim (signs) to Rochel that only she would know. When Rochel realized that her father Lavan intended to send Leah under the bridal canopy instead of her, she feared the humiliation her sister would face and related the simanim to her so that she could convince Yaakov that she was indeed Rochel. What were these simanim? (Daas Z'keinim, Kaf HaChaim Orach Chaim 240:64)
2) The Ramban writes (26:5) that Yaakov was permitted to marry Rochel and Leah in spite of the Torah's prohibition (Vayikra 18:18) against marrying two sisters because the forefathers only observed the mitzvos in the land of Israel, and Yaakov married them outside of Israel. What will be their status at the time of the resurrection of the dead, when they will all be living in Israel? (Shu"t Rav Pe'alim Vol. 2 Sod Yeshorim 2)
3) In which two months were no children born to Yaakov? (Yalkut Shimoni Shemos 162)
4) After Rochel attempted to express the depth of her pain at her inability to conceive children, saying that without kids she was like a dead person (30:1), Yaakov became angry at her. What was wrong with Rochel's expression of pain that upset Yaakov? (Even Yisroel)
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