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

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Vol. 21   No. 7

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Parshas Vayeitzei

Who Guarded Ya'akov?

"And he dreamt, and behold a ladder standing on the ground, its top reaching the Heaven, and behold, angels of G-d were ascending and descending on it" (28:12).

Rashi explains that the angels that ascended first were the angels of Eretz Yisrael, who were taking their leave before Ya'akov entered Chutz la'Aretz, whereas the angels that descended were those that came to accompany him on the next step of his journey.

The question arises, observes the Oznayim la'Torah, as to who guarded Ya'akov during the transition period, after the first set of angels departed and the second set arrived?

That is why the Pasuk continues "And behold G-d was standing over him", to guard him in the interim (Rashi).

But why was this necessary, asks the author, why could the angels of Eretz Yisrael not wait for the angels of Chutz la'Aretz to arrive before leaving?

Indeed, he points out, we find this arrangement in the desert, with regard to the Pillars of Cloud by day and of Fire by night, each of which did not depart before the other one arrived.


As an introduction to his answer, the Oznayim la'Torah points out that the location where Ya'akov was lying was the spot on which Adam and Kayin and Hevel had sacrificed, and on which the Akeidah took place. It was the exact location on which the Beis Hamikdash would later be built. Moreover, he explains, Ya'akov had just acquired the Bechorah, and therefore had the equivalent status of a Kohen Gadol.

On Yom Kipur, when the Kohen Gadol would enter the Kodesh to perform the Avodah, nobody (even angels) were allowed to remain in the Ohel Mo'ed. The Kohen Gadol was alone with Hakadosh-Baruch-Hu, as it were, and nobody was allowed to be present.

Here too, the Shechinah came down to speak with Ya'akov, and no angel was permitted to be present.

This incident demonstrated to Ya'akov that G-d wanted his Avodah and established that the Bechorah was his.


The author adds how, at the end of the Parshah, when Ya'akov returned from Charan, to ensure that the Tzadik should not be alone without protection for one moment, the angels of Chutz la'Aretz did not return to their heavenly abode before the angels of Eretz Yisrael came down to accompany him into Eretz Yisrael. At that point, he saw two camps of angels simultaneously, which explains why he called the place 'Machanayim'.

Here, on the other hand, where he was alone with Hakadosh-Baruch-Hu, he named the place 'Beis-Eil'.


Another question the Oznayim la'Toah asks is why the angels of Chutz la'Aretz had to come at this point, seeing as Ya'akov was in Yerushalayim, which, as everybody knows, is nowhere near the border?


Once again he cites Chazal, who, commenting on the Pasuk "the land upon which you are lying" (Pasuk 13), explain that G-d folded the entire country underneath the sleeping Ya'akov (See Rashi there). In that case, Ya'akov was indeed lying on the border of Chutz la'Aretz, and Chazal are justified in telling us that the angels of Chutz la'Aretz came to accompany him.

* * *

Parshah Pearls
(Adapted from the Oznayim la'Torah)

Ya'akov Left Be'er Sheva

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

Rashi suggests that it would have sufficed to write that Ya'akov went to Charan. After all, he argues, we know that he lived in Be'er Sheva, so it is obvious that that is where he left from.


The Oznayim wonders what bothers Rashi here.

Sometimes, he explains, a person leaves town because of problems that he faces at home, be they financial, medical, or for other personal reasons. In that case, his destination is of no consequence; what is important is that he leaves.

Sometimes, it is the person's destination that is important. He might be going there on business or for a family Simchah, in which case, the fact that he has to leave town is of no importance, it is his destination that needs to be mentioned.

Ya'akov Avinu had to leave Be'er Sheva in order to escape from the clutches of his brother Eisav, who was planning to kill him. And he also needed to go to Charan to find a wife - the former, to fulfill the instructions of his mother, the latter, of his father.

Hence, the Torah needs to write a. that "Ya'akov left Be'er Sheva" and b. that "he went to Charan".


Fourteen Years in Yeshivah

Chazal teach us that Ya'akov did not go immediately to Charan, but that he first went to study in the Yeshivah of Shem & Eiver, where he studied for fourteen years before traveling to Charan.

Interestingly, he was not punished for deviating from his parents' instructions to go straight to Charan, yet he was punished for staying in Charan for twenty-two years, despite the fact that they had ordered him to go there in the first place.

The Oznayim la'Torah suggests a number of reasons as to why Ya'akov did this. 1. To put Eisav off the scent. Should he decide to come after him to kill him, Eisav would search for him in Charan, and would not think of looking in the Yeshivah. 2. He emulated his father Yitzchak, whom some sixty years earlier, the angels transported straight from the Akeidah, to the Yeshivah of Shem ve'Eiver, to learn diligently, as thanks to Hashem for having saved him from the Akeidah. Ya'akov now went to the same Yeshivah, to thank Hashem for helping him escape from Eisav, following the episode with the B'rachos; 3. During the three years that Yitzchak spent in the Yeshivah of Shem va'Eiver, he studied Hilchos Ishus (the Dinim of marriage) before marrying Rivkah. Ya'akov too, taking his cue from his father, spent fourteen years learning Hilchos Ishus before venturing to Charan to find a wife; 4. He put into practice his father's prediction "The Voice is the voice of Ya'akov, and the hands are the hands of Eisav!" Seeing as the antidote against 'the hands of Eisav' is 'the Voice of Ya'akov', he went to Yeshivah to protect himself against the anticipated attack of Eisav.

Perhaps one may add that Ya'akov needed to spend fourteen years learning Torah to prepare him for the fourteen years that he was about to spend as an employee of the master swindler, Lavan.


A Man after his Own Heart

"And he (Ya'akov) told Lavan all these things" (29:13).

He explained to him says Rashi, how he only arrived by him because his brother had forced him to leave, and how they had taken from him all that he owned (See Rashi, Pasuk 11).

Presumably, comments the Oznayim la'Torah, Lavan asked Ya'akov about the enmity between him and Eisav, and that Ya'akov explained to him how he had bought the birthright from him for a plate of lentil-broth, and how he had tricked his father into giving him the B'rachos in place of Eisav. In fact, Targum Yonasan specifically says that he did.

And we can be quite certain that by doing so, Ya'akov found favour in the eyes of Lavan, who himself was a master trickster.

That's why he responded with the words 'But you are my flesh and blood'. Yes, Ya'akov was a man after his own heart!


What's Up his Sleeve?

"Is it because you are my brother that you will work for me for free? Tell me your fee?" (29:15).

What Lavan means, says the Oznayim la'Torah, was that, since he was his equal in the art of swindling, he suspected that if he were to work for him for nothing, who knows what trick he had up his sleeve, and what he would later demand for his services. Therefore it was preferable that he name his fee up front.


Anything You Say, Sir

"And Lavan said 'I would rather give her to you than to somebody else' (29:19).

It is remarkable, says the Oznayim la'Torah, that this renowned swindler never countered Ya'akov's offers. He was always prepared to accept whatever terms the latter offered.

He knew that Ya'akov loved Rachel and was willing to pay any price. So when Ya'akov offered to work seven years for her, why didn't he bargain with him? Why didn't he raise the price to ten years or nine?

And the same happened later, when Ya'akov presented him with his terms to work for himself after fourteen years working for Lavan. Instead of trying to bring the price down, all he could say was 'Agreed. If only it will be as you say!'

An honest person, the Oznayim la'Torah explains, needs to bargain, to arrange terms that are to his advantage. But Lavan was not an honest person. He was quite capable, indeed, he did, switch the terms whenever things did not quite work out in his favour. He would change the terms once, twice and even ten times without batting an eyelid, as he did with Ya'akov. And so it was when Ya'akov asked for Rachel in return for seven years work. Lavan knew at the outset that he would ultimately give Ya'akov Le'ah - for an additional seven years work, yet he immediately agreed to Ya'akov's request!

This was because when an employer is easy-going on his terms, this encourages the employee to work harder, to the advantage of the employer. The fact that Lavan would later change the conditions as he saw fit was of no consequence, as long as he got the best out of Ya'akov.


Lavan's Party

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

Lavan's party served two purposes: 1. To arrange with the residents of Charan to cheat Ya'akov. This was to ensure that the local well, which began to flow with the arrival of Ya'akov, and had supplied water throughout the seven years that he had been there would continue to flow on his merit. 2. To enable Lavan to inform Ya'akov that the people forced him to switch Rachel for Le'ah, because "It is not done in our place to give the younger daughter before the older one!"

That, the author concludes, explains why he did not make a party for Rachel - since it was not necessary.

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