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

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Vol. 19   No. 7

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Parshas Vayeitzei

Uncle Lavan (ha'Arami)
(Adapted from 'Otzar Ishei ha'T'nach)

Lavan was born on the merit of Avraham. Like her sister Sarah, Milkah (mother of Besu'el, Lavan's father) was barren, and it was only when Sarah became pregnant, and G-d cured all the barren women, that she became pregnant too (Medrash ha'Gadol).


The Torah relates that Avraham sent his children, the sons of Keturah (alias Hagar) to 'the land of the east', and that he handed them 'the impure name' (incorporating the ability to perform witchcraft [see Rashi Chayei Sarah, 25:6]). And it is from that land that Lavan, Be'or and Bil'am came (Zohar).


When Lavan chased after Ya'akov, he had no intention of doing battle with him, since Ya'akov's forces were far stronger than his. What he wanted was to kill him verbally (i.e. through witchcraft [Zohar])

That explains why, when G-d appeared to him, He warned him not to speak with Ya'akov good or bad (rather than not to fight him).


Lavan (Be'or) was alias Bil'am and Kushan Rish'asayim (king of Aram). He was called Be'or - because he had relations with his ass, and Bil'am - because he attempted to swallow the people (of G-d ['bola am']), and Kushan Rish'asayim - because he perpetrated two evil deeds: He desecrated the oath that he took not to cross the pile of stones (that he together with Ya'akov. had erected to mark the peace-treaty that they established) to harm the descendents of Ya'akov, and he subjugated Yisrael for eight years (Gemara Sanhedrin and Yerushalmi).

Kushan Rish'asayim was unlikely to have actually been Lavan however, since five hundred years separated them; Moreover, he cannot have been Bilam, whose death is recorded in Matos. What Chazal must therefore mean is that the one was a Gilgul (a reincarnation) of the other, as the Ya'avetz explains.


Likewise, Bil'am became lame when, on his way to try and curse Yisrael, he squeezed past a stone wall (made from that same pile of stones), squashing his leg in the process (Targum Yonasan), thereby abrogating his oath.


Lavan was alias Kemu'el ("the father of Aram"), which is the acronym of 'kam neged umoso shel Keil' (he arose against G-d's chosen nation). Medrash Rabah.


When Yitzchak instructed Ya'akov to travel to Aram and take himself a wife from the daughters of Lavan he did not yet have any children. But the moment the Tzadik Yitzchak uttered the words "from the daughters of Lavan", Lavan's wife conceived Rachel and Le'ah (Medrash Rabah, in contrast to the previous Medrash).


At the same time that Rivkah gave birth to Eisav and Ya'akov, Lavan's wife gave birth to Le'ah and Rachel. In an exchange of letters, it was agreed that Eisav (the older twin) would marry Le'ah (the older twin) and that Ya'akov would marry Rachel. (See Rashi Vayeitzei, 29:17). (Medrash Tanchuma)


Before Ya'akov arrived in Aram, Lavan had no sons. It was only on the merit of Ya'akov that his wife subsequently bore him sons (Medrash Rabah).


Ya'akov informed Rachel that if her father Lavan was a trickster, he was his equal in the art of swindling (Gemara Megilah) This teaches us that one does not handle a trickster in the same way as one deals with an honest person (as David ha'Melech wrote in Tehilim).


The camels of Avraham refused to enter Lavan's house until he had cleared out every vestige of idolatry (Avod de'Rebbi Nasan).


Note, that there are two countries by the name of Aram - Aram Naharayim (Avraham's birthplace) and Aram Tzovah (Syria). Aram in the above article refers to Aram Naharayim.

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Parshah Pearls
(Adapted from the Riva)

When Did Ya'akov Go to Charan?

" Ya'akov left Be'er Sheva, and he went to Charan" (28:10).

'He left to go to Charan', comments Rashi, insinuating that although his initial destination was Charan, he went somewhere else first.

This cannot mean that he went first to Har ha'Mori'ah to Daven at the location where his fathers Davened (and where he subsequently had his dream), because, as Rashi himself writes, quoting the Gemara in Bava Metzi'a, he first made his way to Charan, before realizing his mistake and backtracking to Har ha'Mori'ah, a journey which earned him k'fitzas ha'derech, enabling him to arrive there in 'no time at all'.

Rashi must therefore be hinting at the fourteen years Ya'akov spent at the Yeshivah of Shem ve'Eiver, where he 'hid from Eisav' before proceeding to Charan. In fact, Rashi himself alludes to that period at the end of Parshas Toldos.


Home Help

"This time (after the birth of Levi), my husband will accompany me" (29:34).

Why specifically 'this time', asks the Riva?

Citing the Ram mi'Coutzi, the Riva explains that two children Le'ah could handle by herself; (perhaps she was referring to the fact that, before the age of prams) one can carry two babies simultaneously, but how does one manage three?

Consequently, she predicted, Ya'akov would be forced to spend more time with her, to help with the children.



"And Lavan said to him (Ya'akov) " I have divined and (come to the conclusion that) G-d blessed me on account of you!" (30:28).

Rashi explains that when Ya'akov arrived in Charan, it is clear that Lavan had no sons, since if he had, he would not have sent Rachel to shepherd the sheep.

How do we know that, asks the Riva? Perhaps he had sons who were too small to look after the sheep?

Even if that was so, he answers, Lavan would not have sent Rachel to look after the sheep, but would rather have kept her at home to baby-sit her little brothers.

* * *


"And it was told to Lavan on the third day that Ya'akov had fled (ki borach)" (31:22).

The same words "borach" appear in Beshalach, where the Torah writes "And it was told to Par'oh that the people had fled" (14:5).

Connecting the two, the Ba'al ha'Turim cites the Medrash, which informs us that the informant in both cases was Amalek. What's more, he adds, the Gematriyah of "ki borach" is equivalent to that of 'Amalek'!


"And he went from the tent of (me'ohel) Le'ah" (31:33).

The word "me'ohel", says the Ba'al ha'Turim, appears on three other occasions in T'nach: 1. in Vayikra (1:1) "And G-d spoke to him from the Ohel Mo'ed ";

2. In Divrei ha'Yamim 1 (17:5) " and I went from tent to tent and from the Mishkan"; 3. In Tehilim (52:7). "He will cut you down and tear you from the tent".

These Pesukim, he explains, quoting his father (the Rosh), tell the story of the Bamos (private altars); when they were permitted, and when they became forbidden.

When the Mishkan was set up, Bamos became prohibited. Hence the Pasuk - "And G-d spoke to him from the Ohel Mo'ed "(Divine communication was no longer possible via the Bamos).

Once they crossed the Yarden, they became permitted once more, until Mishkan Shiloh was built. Consequently, the Pasuk writes "And he went from the tent of Le'ah and he came to the tent of Rachel". From the Mishkan in the desert, which was built by Betzal'el (who was a descendent of Le'ah) to Mishkan Shiloh, which was built in the portion of Yosef (son of Rachel). Then they became prohibited again.

After the destruction of Mishkan Shiloh, Bamos were permitted once more. So the Pasuk writes "I went from tent to tent and from the Mishkan"- (from Shiloh to Nov, from Nov to Giv'on [where the large Bamos stood), and from Givon to the Beis-ha'Mikdash, where Bamos became forbidden forever. Hence the Pasuk states, "He will cut you down and tear you from the tent", since Bamos would never be permitted again.

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