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

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Vol. 20   No. 7

This issue is sponsored l'iluy Nishmas
R' Yissachar Dov ben Yosef Elimelech(Trenevsky,Brennard) z"l
yahrzeit 13 Kislev
by his daughter and his family

Parshas Vayeitzei

Running for Money
(Adapred from the Oznayim la'Torah)

"And it was when Lavan heard the news of Ya'akov, his sister's son's, arrival, he ran to greet him, he hugged him and kissed him and brought him to his house. Then he (Ya'akov) recounted to Lavan all these events" (29:13).

The word 'lorutz' (to run) is a derivative of 'rotzon' (the will to do something). When a person runs to do something, it is a sign that he is keen and that he wants it very much. It is a sign that not only is he doing it, but that he is doing it with simchah. Hence Chazal teach us in Pirkei Ovos that one should run to perform a 'small' Mitzvah no less than for a 'big' one… . Because whereas performing a Mitzvah is a wonderful thing to do, it does not compare with performing it with Simchah. As a matter of fact, the commentaries explain that a Mitzvah that is performed with Simchah is liable to earn reward in this world as well as in the world to come, in spite of the principle that there is no reward for Mitzvos in this world.

At first sight, it appears that Lavan ran to greet Ya'akov because he was keen to perform the Mitzvah of hachnasas orchim, and was therefore running to perform it with simchah. Rashi however, explains that he ran in anticipation of the wealth that Ya'akov must have brought with him - after all, he figured, many years earlier, Eliezer, who was merely a slave in the house of Avraham, had come with ten laden camels, so in his mind's eye, he envisaged Ya'akov, who was master of his house, arriving with no less. So he ran to investigate. Yes, Lavan did indeed run to greet Ya'akov out of joy. But it wasn't for love of any Mitzvah, it was for the love of money!


The question arises from where Rashi knows that Lavan was motivated by money, and not by the Mitzvah of hachnosas orchim? Could it be because in the very next Pasuk, he tells Ya'akov that, now that he came empty-handed, he could only invite him into the house because he was his blood relative, and even then, only on condition that he worked to pay for his keep (Rashi). That is a distinct possibility.

But there's another good reason to suspect Lavan of running whenever he smelt money.

One hundred years earlier, in last week's Parshah, the Torah describes Eliezer's arrival in Charan. It tells us how Eliezer ran to meet Rivkah, when he sensed that his holy mission was about to be fulfilled; it tells us how Rivkah ran to give water to Eliezer, his men and his camels, in order to carry out the Mitzvah of hachnosas orchim; and finally, it tells us how Lavan ran to greet Eliezer - when he saw the ornaments that Eliezer had placed on Rivkah, as Rashi explains there as well.


Unless one works on one's Midos, a bad Midah, just like a good one, becomes ingrained in a person with the passing of time (or even if one succumbs just twice, as Chazal have said). Only as one grows older, one's desires grow together with oneself and they become more sophisticated. When Lavan was younger, he ran for a few trinkets and when he got older, he ran for jewels. Later still, he thinks nothing of tricking Ya'akov into staying in Charan for another seven years, so that the water-well, which he realized miraculously flowed for years on end on his (Ya'akov's) merit, would continue to flow. It was Lavan's love of money that caused him to sell each of his daughters for seven years work, in lieu of providing them with the customary Nadan, as a good father would be expected to do.

And it was his love of money that caused him to force Ya'akov to pay in full for each and every lamb that went missing, during the last six years, irrespective of the circumstances.

And it was his love of money again that was behind his changing the agreement (even after the sheep had become pregnant) with Ya'akov, in the vain hope that he would gain the next batch of lambs and Ya'akov would lose them.


But as is generally the case ('A person dies with less than half his desires in hand') his love of money did not make him happy. Not only that, the Medrash tells us that when he returned from his confrontation with Ya'akov, he found that thieves had ransacked his house and possessions, leaving him as impoverished as he had been when Ya'akov arrived.

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Parshah Pearls
(Adapted from the Da'as Zekeinim mi'Ba'alei Tosfos)

Lavan's Devious Motives

"And Lavan gathered the men of the town and he made a party" (29:22).

Lavan was not called 'Lavan ha'Arami' (Lavan the swindler) for nothing, quips the Da'as Zekeinim.

The reason that he organized a (stag) party the night before Ya'akov's marriage to 'Rachel' was in order to get him drunk. He hoped that he would be so inebriated that he would not notice that his wife was Leah, and not Rachel.


The Morning After

"And it was in the morning, and behold it was Leah" (29:25).

Because throughout the night, based on the signs (Nidah, Chalah and Hadlokas ha'Ner, that Rachel had taught her) Leah pretended that she was Rachel, the Da'as Zekeinim explains.

And throughout the night, the Medrash informs us, Lavan's guests were singing 'Ho Lay'a, Ho Lay'a!' to warn Ya'akov that the woman who was with him was not the woman whom he thought it was.

In the morning, when he discovered the truth, he accused Leah of being a swindler, the daughter of a swindler! "'When, in the past, I called you Leah you answered, and last night, when I called you Rachel, you answered!" he told her.

'I am a good pupil', she replied,'because it is from you that I learned to do that! When your father called you Ya'akov, you responded positively, and you did the same thing when he called you Eisav!'

'What's more', she said, 'I have the support of your father, who said to Eisav "Your brother came in trickery and took your Brachah!'



"And Leah said 'G-d has given me my reward (nosan li es sechori) for having given my maidservant to my husband; so she called his name Yisachar" (30:18).

Although Yisachar is pronounced with one 'Siyn', it is spelt with two. One, explains the Da'as Zekeinim, because of her G-d-given reward, as Leah specifically stated. The other, on account of her statement just two Pesukim earlier, when she informed Ya'akov how she had hired him ("ki sochor socharticho") from her sister Rachel. And due to the not so refined connotations of the latter, the second 'Siyn' is not pronounced.

Alternatively, the author explains, it is not pronounced because she donated it to her grandson Yov, who is subsequently referred to (in Pinchas) by the nicer-sounding name of 'Yoshuv'.


Switching Fetuses

"And then she gave birth to a daughter, and she called her Dinah" (30:21).

Rashi explains that Leah proclaimed judgement on herself, since she was actually pregnant with Yosef and Rachel with Dinah, and it was as a result of her prayers that G-d switched the fetuses.

The Da'as Zekeinim explains that this is hinted in the Pasuk, which refers to Dinah's birth, but does not mention the fact that Leah was pregnant with her (See Rashi Pasuk 10). This suggests that although she gave birth to a daughter, it was not a daughter, but a son, with whom she was pregnant.


Knotting the Firstborn Sheep

"And it was when the early-bearing flocks (ha'tzon ha'mekushoros) mated … "(30:41).

Unklus translates "ha'tzon ha'mekushoros" as 'the firstborn sheep', and Rashi explains that the word has no precedent in T'nach.

The Da'as Zekeinim however, explains that it is connected to the word 'kesher' ,a knot, and he explains that it was customary to tie a knot on a firstborn, as a sign that the owner considered it precious (much in the same way as people tie a knot in their handkerchief to remind them to do something important). And he cites the midwife, who tied a knot on the hand of Zerach, Tamar's twin son, as a sign that he appeared first.

And he adds that in his time too, it was common to attach more importance to a cherished firstborn animal and to give it more attention than other animals.


The T'rafim

"And Rachel stole the t'rafim (the images) that belonged to her father." (31:19)

The Da'as Zekeinim, citing Pirkei de'R. Eliezer, describes those images: They would slaughter a firstborn person cut him up, salt him and add spices. Then they would write the name of an idol on a golden plate, which they would place under his tongue. They would attach the entire 'contraption' to the wall, kindle a light in front of it and prostrate themselves before it. The T'rafim would then speak.

Rachel stole them, the Da'as Zekeinim explains, to prevent them from informing Lavan that Ya'akov had fled, or as Rashi explains, to stop her father from worshipping idols.

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