Thoughts on the Weekly Parshah by HaRav Eliezer Chrysler
Formerly Rav of Mercaz Ahavat Torah, Johannesburg

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Vol. 3 No. 42

Parshas Vayetze

Ya'akov and Lovon

There are a number of difficulties that we need to understand regarding Lovon's relationship with Ya'akov Ovinu. Firstly, what made him switch Rochel for Leah? Secondly, to what purpose did he gather all the people of his town (Choron) and make a party? And thirdly, why did he take the initiative in proposing that Ya'akov be given Rochel for a second term of seven years work.

One would have thought that it was up to Ya'akov to make the initial request for Leah, and that then it was up to him to bargain for his terms.We know Lovon to have been a particularly crafty fellow, so we can safely assume that he was after something of Ya'akov's. But what? One might simply point out that Lovon benefited greatly from Ya'akov's dedication and business acumen, since clearly, Ya'akov was no mean businessman. We see later in the Parshah that he was a highly-skilled shepherd who knew all the tricks of the trade, and that, when he worked for himself, he became extremely wealthy on account of these skills. The Torah testifies that Lovon too, became rich during the time that Ya'akov was working for him, and this in no small measure, due to his unbelievable dedication to his work (see Rashi 19:27, and the pesukim 31:38-40).

The Targum Yonoson explains that Lovon made the party in order to initiate a new law - namely, that it was prohibited to marry off a younger daughter before her older sister. Clearly, the idea was to force Ya'akov to accept Leah, the older sister, and then to tempt him into working for another seven years by offering him the big prize - Rochel, whom he knew Ya'akov loved dearly. All this fits beautifully into the pesukim (29:18-27), and answers adequately all three difficulties. If we add that Lovon, sharp and cunning as he was, would most certainly have spotted already after the first month (see 29:14) the benefits to be had from Ya'akov's work, we might even add that, already at that stage, he planned to keep Ya'akov working for him, which is why he said to him (29:15): "Are you not my kinsman, why should you work for me for nothing? Tell me what remuneration you would like!" He does not appear to have been volunteering to pay him for his work of the past month, but rather in the present and future - "Why should you continue to work for me for nothing?" and this is indeed how Unklus translates it. And that is why Ya'akov simply continued to work seven years for Rochel, since it was insinuated by Lovon that he do so for a remuneration of his choice.In addition to the above, we can add the marvellous blessing of children - sons to boot, since, according to Chazal, he sent Rochel to tend the sheep only because he had no sons (just four daughters).

It was with the advent of Ya'akov Ovinu that he was blessed with sons - that prompted Lovon to make every conceivable effort to retain Ya'akov for as long as possible, by hook or by crook! When Ya'akov Ovinu first arrived in Choron, there was only one well to supply the entire area, and that one well had to be guarded by a huge stone to prevent any one shepherd from draining it of its precious contents without the knowledge of the others. Wells at that time tended to dry up fast (see Parshas Toldos 26:18-22 and 32-33 regarding the major role wells played in the lives of the people of those times). The Medrash informs us that, throughout the seven years that Ya'akov worked for Rochel, the well never stopped flowing. That incredible miracle was of course, noticed by Lovon, who correctly ascribed that blessing too, to Ya'akov the tzaddik's presence. That is why, explains the Targum Yonoson, he gathered the people of his town, to concur with them and to do what was necessary to prevent Ya'akov from leaving. The outcome of their conspiracy has already been related above. Interestingly enough, we find a similar blessing with regard to Ya'akov's first meeting with Par'oh, where he blessed him that the Nile would always rise to meet him. Nor is it surprising that this attribute is found specifically in Ya'akov Ovinu who, after all, was the pillar of Torah, and we know that, at a deeper level, water and Torah are synonymous.

And with this we can also understand as to how, later in the Parshah, Lovon knew immediately that Ya'akov had fled. Who told him and how did he know so soon? (see Rashi and the Ba'al Ha'turim). The Targum Yonoson, drawing on his previous explanation of Lovon's plot, writes simply that the well stopped flowing - so he knew at once that Ya'akov must have left, since the sole reason that the water continued to flow ceaselessly was on account of Ya'akov's presence. If these are the sort of blessings that a tzaddik brings with him to a town, then we can better understand the opening possuk of the Parshah: "And Ya'akov left Be'er Sheva and he went to Choron". But of course he left Be'er Sheva, since that is where he was living, asks Rashi. And he answers that when a tzaddik like Ya'akov leaves a place, he leaves behind him a vacuum which cannot be filled. Who knows how many blessings left B'eer Sheva with Ya'akov Ovinu, and how sorely his absence was felt as a result of his departure?History of the World ( Part 25)(Adapted from the Seder Ha'doros) 2313Shim'on ben Ya'akov dies at the age of 120. He will be buried in the city of Mandah in his portion of Eretz Yisroel. Angiy'as, King of Africa, relenting under the constant urging of Tzefo ben Elifaz, gathers a huge army with the intention of attacking Egypt.

However, among his servants is a youth by the name of Bil'om ben Be'or, who is both highly intelligent and conversant in the laws of "Kessem" (a type of magic by which one can foretell the future). After consulting with him, and discovering that his troops would be defeated by the combined forces of Egypt and the B'nei Ya'akov, he cancels his campaign.Meanwhile, Tzefo, disappointed with Angiy'as, leaves for Kittim, where he is accepted with open arms, and hired to fight their battles. After many stunning victories, including that of his former benefactor Angiy'as, and after great feats of strength, including the killing of a ferocious creature, half-man and half-beast, that was devouring their flocks, the men of Kittim crown Tzefo king. Eventually, he rules over the whole of Kittim and Italy for 50 years. (Some say he is the first King of Rome.) 2317Re'uven dies at the age of 125. His bones will be buried in the town of Rumya in Eiver Ha'yarden. 2318 Don dies. He is 124 and will eventually be buried in Estho'ol (of Shimshon fame). Chushim, king of Edom, dies and Hadad ben Be'dad rules for 35 years.2319Yisochor dies aged 122, and his bones will be buried in Tzidon.2320Osher dies at the age of 123 and he will be buried in Kodesh. 2321Gad dies aged 125 and his bones are buried in the town of Rumya (like his brother Reuven's) in Eiver Ha'yarden.After calling Midyon to help them stave off an attack from Hadad ben Bedad with an army of the whole of B'nei Eisov, Mo'ov flee the scene, leaving Midyon to be massacred by the B'nei Eisov. Midyon sends out a call to all the B'nei Keturah to avenge the Mo'ovi betrayal, but Mo'ov sends a distress signal to Hadad, who rallies to their aid, and Midyon suffers defeat for the second time. From that time on, the Midyonim detest the Mo'ovim. 2324 Yehudah dies aged 129. He is embalmed, placed in a coffin, and handed for safe-keeping to his children. He will be buried in the town of Be'vo near Beis Lechem. 2331Levi dies at the age of 133, 93 years after Yisroel's arrival in Egypt. He lives the longest of all the brothers and, like his brother Shim'on, he will be buried in the town of Mandah. Levi is the last of the brothers to die, and up to the time of his death, Yisroel remains totally free.

The moment the Egyptians see that all the B'nei Ya'akov have died, they sieze all the vineyards, fields and houses that Yosef gave them, and the slavery begins. 2340 Par'oh king of Egypt dies , and Millul his son reigns in his stead. By this time, all the strong men of Egypt who knew Yosef( who died 31 years earlier) have died. Millul is 26 when he is crowned, and he rules for 94 years. Like all kings of Egypt, his name is changed to Par'oh.Angiy'as' plundering bands are once again massacred by Tzefo. So Angi'yas joins with his brother Lucas to raise an army of 800,000 soldiers, and they attack Tzefo. A petrified Tzefo faces them with only 3,000 troops. However, the men from Kittim remind their king of the might of the G-d of his fathers, and advise him to pray to Him. He responds with a heart-rending appeal to the G-d of Avrohom and Yitzchok. G-d, in turn, responds to the prayers of Tzefo, and after two battles, the armies of Angiy'as and Lucas are decimated. But Tzefo immediately forgets the G-d to whom he has just prayed and to whom he owes his deliverance, and he reverts to his idolatrous practices. Bil'om ben Be'or flees from the battlefield and is accepted with honour and gifts in Kittim.

Now Tzefo sets his sights on Egypt and the B'nei Ya'akov to avenge their defeat of his family at the burial of his grandfather Ya'akov - almost one hundred years earlier. Once again, he gathers a vast army including the armies of Hadad ben Bedad king of Edom, the people of the East and all the B'nei Yishmo'el.The Egyptian army consists of three hundred thousand men, plus one hundred and fifty troops of the B'nei Yisroel. The Egyptians however, are suspicious of Yisroel, thinking that they might ally themselves with their brothers the B'nei Eisov and the B'nei Yishmo'el. So they go to war against Tzefo and his army, instructing the B'nei Yisroel that, should Tzefo overpower them, they should come to their assistance. And this is precisely what happens, the Egyptian army is overpowered by the armies of Tzefo, and are forced to turn tail and flee.


(Vayeitzei - Ashkenazim) Hoshei'a 12:13-15 & 13:1-15 & 14:1-10

"And Ya'akov fled to the field of Aram (Aram Naharayim, otherwise known as Choron), and Yisroel worked for a woman, and for a woman he guarded (Lovon's sheep)!" (Hoshei'a 12:13).

The Novi is recounting the kindnesses of G-d, explains the Radak, and he begins with G-d's kindness towards Ya'akov, who was forced to flee from Eisov his brother, and then, arriving penniless by Lovon, he had to work for fourteen years, seven years for Rochel and seven years for Leah - Metzudas Dovid and Radak. (It is also possible to explain the double expression as pertaining to Rochel, since in reality the two sets of seven years that Ya'akov worked were both for her.) And yet, concludes the Radak, G-d protected Ya'akov from Lovon's constant cheating, and blessed him, so that he left Lovon's house a wealthy man, the owner of vast possessions.

And then the Novi continues, G-d went on to perform kindnesses with Ya'akov's children, who went down to Egypt and became slaves there. Yet G-d "sent a Novi (Moshe) and took Yisroel out of Egypt (with great possessions), and through the Novi they were looked after (for forty years in the desert, where they lacked nothing)". According to the Radak, Hoshei'a is reminding Yisroel of G-d's kindnesses, as we explained, whereas in the opinion of the Metzudas Dovid, he is stressisng G-d's Hashgochoh over Ya'akov and his children. The Novi has drawn a comparison between the era of Ya'akov in the house of Lovon and that of the B'nei Yisroel in Egypt. This analogy sheds light on the Parshah of "Arami oved Ovi", on which we expound in the Haggodoh, and which is taken from the Parshah of Bikurim in Ki Sovo. From the above Meforshim we learn that the comparison between Lovon and Egypt is not a casual one, but an object-lesson in the Chessed of Hashem and in His Hashgochoh that they have in common. Incidentally, Rashi in Chumash (Devorim 26:5) writes on "Arami oved ovi" - "The Torah mentions the kindnesses of G-d" - like the Radak in the Haftorah.ABut Yisroel seemed to have forgotten G-d's loving- kindness, turning to other gods and angering Him in the process, or denying G-d's Hashgochoh, or that He even knew of their evil deeds, according to the Metzudas Dovid.

The Novi goes on to describe how G-d, reacting to Yisroel's rebellion, will in turn, forsake them and turn on them like a bereaved bear. Instead of redeeming them from the pangs of death as He had intended, He will repay them for their denial of His Goodness, by bringing upon them all forms of death - pestilence, the sword, famine and plagues of wild beasts (Radak).AThen Hoshei'a castigates Ephrayim (the general name for the Ten tribes and the tribe of Yerov'om ben Nevot), for setting up the two golden calves (Metzudas Dovid) and creating a split between the two kingdoms, the cause of the exile of the ten tribes at the hands of Sancheiriv, King of Ashur - and the terrible suffering that preceded it, until finally, he warns Yehudah to do Teshuvah for their sins, if they wish to avoid going into Golus, like their brothers, the ten tribes, did. If they will only do Teshuvah, Hoshei'a exhorts them, and give up their idolatrous practices, Hashem will love them once more, even though they are not worthy of His love. Who will explain to them, he concludes, how foolish they are, explains Targum Yonoson? Who will only tell them how proper are the ways of G-d? Because the righteous who go in them will live in the World to Come and the wicked will end up in Gehinom for not doing so.

The first week in Ellul, Daf Ha'yomi will be learning Chullin. Anyone interested in a Daf Ha'yomi shiur, expertly explained - and including a preview of the previous day's "daf" each day - contact R. Eliezer Chrysler for further details.

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