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November 28, 1998 9 Kislev 5758

Pop Quiz: How long after leaving his father's home did Ya'akob arrive in Haran?

HELP IS ON THE WAY by Rabbi Reuven Semah

"And [Ya'akob] encountered the place and he spent the night there." (Beresheet 28:11)

This week we see Ya'akob escaping from his father's house to get away from the clutches of his angry brother. Ya'akob was also on another mission. His parents had commanded him to find a wife. The Torah says that on the way, Ya'akob came to the future site of the Bet HaMikdash. However, an unusual term, "vayifga", is used to tell us that he reached that place. Our Sages interpret this to mean that he prayed there. Rashi asks, if it means he prayed, why didn't the Torah tell us more clearly? Why do we need a strange word? Rashi answers that it is teaching us that a miracle happened. The ground shrunk under him and he traveled a great distance in a few moments.

The Mayana Shel Torah notes that this miracle happened to Ya'akob on this mission to find a wife. The same miracle happened to Eliezer when he traveled to find a wife for Yitzhak. There is a strong hint for us here. We live in difficult times of exile and at times it is hard to put together the needed livelihood or other expense money to get married. The Torah is telling us, do not put off the marriage of our children. We should take quick action and encourage the marriage, take the leap of faith and rely on Hashem for a miracle. The ground will shrink beneath the new couple and they won't have to travel so far to reach their desires and needs.

How crucial is this message for our community. We should encourage our young people to marry without fear. Hashem helps!

In addition, we find that when Ya'akob woke up from his dream he asked of Hashem that He provide him with "lehem le'echol ubeged lilbosh - bread to eat and a garment to wear. He didn't ask for anything in the way of luxuries. This is the way of the righteous, to ask from Hashem what he surely needs. For those things that we must have, Hashem provides without a doubt. As we find in the desert, Hashem sent them manna from Heaven every day. As we also see in nature, the things that are most necessary to sustain life, air and water, are very abundant. So our message to the young people of our community is to try to marry young. Trust in Hashem. Do not seek to have the luxuries that people have gotten accustomed to in order to get married. Hashem blesses those who rely on Him. Shabbat Shalom.

A TIME TO REACT by Rabbi Shmuel Choueka

"Behold the day is still long; it is not time to bring back the sheep." (Beresheet 29:7)

Ya'akob came to Haran to find a wife as his parents commanded him. He comes to a well which is covered by a large stone, and sees the shepherds just waiting around, wasting time. He first asks them about the welfare of Laban and his family, and then goes on to ask them, "Why are you just lolling around not doing your job? It's not time to go home." To us, it seems that Ya'akob is out of line in criticizing the shepherds. What business is it to him what they are doing? They are not his workers!

The Sforno points out that a righteous person cannot bear to see wrongdoing. When Ya'akob saw them not doing their job, it pained him to see someone stealing from his boss. Therefore, he gave them some constructive criticism. To follow this one step further, when we see something wrong and do not react, that misdeed becomes light in our own eyes. Therefore, it is easier for us to fall into that same trap. Many times, we see things which are incorrect, such as disrespectful behavior, or business practices which are less than honest or ethical. If we have the ability to say something and be heard, we should consider the right way to do it rather than just overlook it. This way we will have fulfilled the misvah of rebuking someone and we will be less prone to be influenced by that behavior. Of course, we cannot always say something; each situation must be judged separately. Ya'akob Abinu is teaching us that we should try not to get used to unacceptable practices, so that we will always remain with our proper standards of conduct. Shabbat Shalom.


"And Ya'akob worked for Rachel seven years, and it was in his eyes as a few days in his love for her" (Beresheet 29:20)

The question arises: When someone has strong feelings of love for another person and has a deep passion to get married, even a short time seems subjectively to be much longer than it really is. How could time have seemed so short for Ya'akob?

The Malbim answers that Ya'akob loved Rachel so much that he thought she was worth working for many more than seven years. Therefore, to work only seven years for such a wonderful person was really a bargain.

From this answer of the Malbim we see the principle that the difficulty experienced in any work that we do is totally subjective. It is based on your personal evaluation of the situation. Whenever you feel that you are gaining a lot, the work you do becomes lighter in your eyes. Keep this in mind and you can lighten your burden by focusing on how you are gaining from what you are doing. This is especially so with the difficulties experienced in Torah studies and other spiritual pursuits. (Growth through Torah)

Answer to Pop Quiz: 14 years. He first went to study in the Yeshivah of Shem and Eber.

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