Thursday, November 27, 2014

Parshat Vayetzei

 פרשת ויצא

Genesis: (28:10-32:3)

This weeks Parasha, Parashat Vayetzei, tells a story of building and enlightenment. The Parasha is filled with formative stories about Jacob, Throughout the Parasha, Yaakov builds his relationship with Hashem and creates a foundation for his enlightenment.

The Parasha begins with Jacobs departure from his parents house, as it is written, And Jacob went out from Beer-sheba, and went toward Haran (28:10). 

The sun is set and Jacob stops to lodge for the night. Jacob dreams and in his dream, he sees a ladder set up on the earth, and the top of it reached to heaven; and behold the angels of G-d ascending and descending on it (28:12). G-d then stands beside him and speaks to him, saying,

אֲנִי יְ־הֹוָ־ה אֱלֹהֵי אַבְרָהָם אָבִיךָ וֵאלֹהֵי יִצְחָק הָאָרֶץ אֲשֶׁר אַתָּה שֹׁכֵב עָלֶיהָ לְךָ אֶתְּנֶנָּה וּלְזַרְעֶךָ

I am the L-rd, the G-d of Abraham your father, and the G-d of Isaac. The land on which you lie, to you will I give it, and to your descendants (28:13).

G-d promises to make Jacobs descendants as plentiful as the dust of the earth and to bless them. He tells Jacob that He will always be with him wherever he will go.

When Jacob awakes, he is afraid, saying, How full of awe is this place! this is none other than the house of G-d, and this is the gate of heaven (28:16). 

He awakes illuminated with the full understanding that Hashem is present with him in all his doings. Jacob rises early in the morning and takes the single stone that he had placed at his head the night before, and he set it up as a monument, and he poured oil on top of its head. He vows, saying-

If God will be with me, and He will guard me on this way, upon which I am going, and He will give me bread to eat and a garment to wear; And if I return in peace to my fathers house, and the L-rd will be my G-d, then this stone, which I have placed as a monument, shall be a house of God, and everything that You give me, I will surely tithe to You (28:20-22).

Jacob continues on his journey and arrives at the land of the children of the east. He sees a well in the field, and three flocks of sheep lying beside it, waiting to be watered, and a huge rock was upon the mouth of the well. Normally, the shepherd would wait until all the flocks would gather there, and they would roll the rock off the mouth of the well together and water the sheep before returning the rock onto the mouth of the well. However, Rachel, Labans daughter, soon comes to the well with her fathers sheep, and, seeing her,

וַיָּגֶל אֶת-הָאֶבֶן מֵעַל פִּי הַבְּאֵר

Jacob singlehandedly rolls the stone off of the mouth of the well (28:10).

Jacob kisses Rachel, and he raises his voice and weeps (Rashi comments that this was because he saw in a prophetic vision that she would not be buried together with him later.)

Jacob tells Rachel that he is Rebeccas son and she runs to notify her family. Laban, Rebeccas brother and Jacobs uncle, runs out to greet Jacob, hugging him and kissing him.

Now Laban had two daughters: the name of the elder was Leah, and the name of the younger was Rachel. And Leahs eyes were weak but Rachel was of beautiful form and fair to look upon (29:16-17).

Jacob agrees to work for Laban for seven years in order to marry Rachel, And Jacob served seven years for Rachel; and they seemed to him but a few days, for the love he had for her (29:20). At the end of the seven years, Laban gathers the people of his town and makes a feast. However, instead of passing off Rachel as Jacobs wife, Laban switches Rachel for Leah.

וַיְהִי בַבֹּקֶר וְהִנֵּה הִוא לֵאָה וַיֹּאמֶר אֶל לָבָן מַה זֹּאת עָשִׂיתָ לִּי הֲלֹא בְרָחֵל עָבַדְתִּי עִמָּךְ וְלָמָּה רִמִּיתָנִי

And it came to pass in the morning that, behold, it was Leah; and he said to Laban: What is this that you have done to me? Did I not serve with you for Rachel? Why have you tricked me (29:25).

Laban replies that it is not the custom of their place to marry the younger daughter before the firstborn. Jacob and Laban then agree that Jacob will work yet another seven years in order to marry Labans younger daughter, Rachel. And he does so.

The text notes that Jacob loved Rachel more than Leah (29:30). G-d sees that Leah is hated, and he opens her womb, and Rachel is barren (29:31).

Leah gives birth to רְאוּבֵן Reuben for she said, Because the Lord hath looked upon my affliction; for now my husband will love me (29:32).

Leah gives birth to שִׁמְעוֹן Simeon Because the Lord hath heard that I am hated, He hath therefore given me this son also (29:33)

Leah gives birth to לֵוִי Levi Now this time will my husband be joined unto me, because I have borne him three sons (29:34).

Leah gives birth to יְהוּדָה Judah saying, This time will I praise the Lord(29:35).

Rachel envies her sister and tells Jacob to give her children, or else I am dead (30:1).

Jacob becomes angry with Rachel and asks her, Am I in the place of G-d, who has withheld from you the fruit of the womb?(30:2).

Rachel gives her maidservant, בִּלְהָה Bilhaa to Jacob as a wife and Bilhaa gives birth to דָּן Dan for Rachel said, God hath judged me, and hath also heard my voice, and hath given me a son (30:6).)

Bilhaa also gives birth to נַפְתָּלִי Naphtali With mighty wrestlings have I wrestled with my sister, and have prevailed (30:8).)

Leah then gives her maiderservant, זִלְפָּה Zilpah to Yaakov as a wife. זִלְפָּה gives birth to גָּד Gad for Leah said, Fortune has come! (30:11).)

זִלְפָּה also gives birth to אָשֵׁר Asher for Happy am I! for the daughters will call me happy (30:13).)

Leah conceives again and gives birth to her fifth son, יִשָּׂשכָר Issachar for God hath given me my hire, because I gave my handmaid to my husband (30:18).

Leah gives birth to her sixth son, זְבֻלוּן, Zebulun for God hath endowed me with a good dowry; now will my husband dwell with me, because I have borne him six sons (30:20).)

Leah also gives birth to a daughter, דִּינָה Dinah.

G-d then remembers Rachel and opens up her womb and she gves birth to her first child, saying God hath taken away my reproach (30:23) and she calls him יוֹסֵף Joseph for she said May G-d add to me another son(30:24). 

After Rachel gave birth to Joseph, Jacob requests of Laban to send him away and allow him to return to his home and his land. Jacob and Laban agree that, as a means of payment of Jacobs wages, Jacob will inspect Labans flocks, taking all the sheep and goats that are speckled or spotted, along with all the black sheep, so that, in the future, if any of Jacobs flocks are not speckled, spotted or black, it will be obvious as stolen. However, that day, Laban removes all the goats that were speckled or spotted and all the black sheep, and gives them to his sons. Jacob takes fresh-cut branches from the popular, almond and plane trees and peels white streaks in them. He places the branches in the gutters in the water troughs where the flocks came to drink, And the flocks conceived at the sight of the rods, and the flocks brought forth streaked, speckled, and spotted (30:39).

In this way, Jacob soon becomes exceedingly prosperous, with large flocks of sheep and goats, female and male servants, and many camels and donkeys (30:43).

G-d then instructs Jacob to return to the land of his fathers and Jacob calls to Rachel and Leah and explains to them how Laban has mistreated him throughout the years. Without notifying Laban, Jacob rises, sets his sons and wives onto the camels, and carries away all his cattle, and all his substance which he had gathered, the cattle of his getting, which he had gathered in Paddan-aram, to go to Isaac his father to the land of Canaan (31:18).

Laban had gone to shear his sheep and Rachel steals her fathers teraphim תְּרָפִים (idols). After three days, Laban is informed that Jacob has fled. Laban and his kinsmen chase after Jacob, catching up with him after seven days. G-d comes to Laban in a dream and warns him not to harm Jacob. Laban accuses Jacob of stealing his idols and Jacob vows The one with whom you find your gods shall not live for he did not know that Rachel had taken them (31:32).

Laban searches Jacobs tent, Leahs tent and the maidservants tents, but finds nothing. Laban then enters Rachels tent but Rachel had placed the idols into her camels saddle and was sitting on them and Laban did not find them. After Laban finishes searching the tents, Jacob becomes angry and takes him to task, saying, These twenty years I have been in your house. I served you fourteen years for your two daughters, and six years for your flock, and you have changed my wages ten times. If the G-d of my father, the God of Abraham and the Fear of Isaac, had not been on my side, surely now you would have sent me away empty-handed. G-d saw my affliction and the labor of my hands and rebuked you last night(31:41-42).

Jacob then forms a covenant with Laban and Jacob sets up a stone as pillar and a witness between them. Jacob offers a sacrifice to G-d on the mountain and in the morning, Laban departs.

Jacob continues on his way, and the angels of G-d meet him. When he sees them, Jacob says, This is Gods camp. And he called the name of that place Mahanaim (32:10).

ויֵצא יעקב מבאר שבע וילך חרנה

And Jacob went out from Beer-sheba, and went toward Haran (28:10)

Why does the verse use the word וַיֵּצֵא or He went out instead of וַיֵּלֶךְ or He went?

Rashi answers that when a righteous person leaves a place, his departure is noted. For when a righteous person is in the city, the city is filled with glory and light, but when a righteous person leaves, the glory and the light cease as well, as it is written with regard to Ruth and Naomi, So she departed from the place where she was (Ruth 1:7).

Another explanation is that the Torah means to emphasize that Jacob was exiting the darkness of his previous life with Esau in order to develop a stronger bond and foundation with Hashem.

וירץ לקראתו ויחבק לו וינשק לוֹ

He ran to meet him, and he embraced him, and he kissed him... (28:11).

Laban runs out to greet Jacob and he hugs him and kisses him. When Jacob meets Rachel after removing the heavy rock from the well, it is written-

וישק יעקב לרחל 

And Jacob kissed Rachel (29:11).

With Rachel, the word for kiss is וישק but with Laban, the word for kiss is וינשק לוֹ.

Why are these two words for kiss different?

In order to show us that Laban had ulterior motives, for the word וינשק contains the word נשק or weapon as its root.

...ויקח מאבני המקום וישם מראשתיו

And he took from the stones of the place, and put it under his head, and lay down in that place to sleep (28:11).

וישכם יעקב בבקר ויקח את האבן אשר שם מראשֹׁתיו וישם אתהּ מצבה ויצק שמן על ראשָהּ

And Jacob rose up early in the morning, and took the stone that he had put under his head, and set it up for a pillar, and poured oil upon the top of it (28:18).

Jacob takes from the stones of the place and places it under his head. When he wakes, he then takes the single rock and, setting it up as a monument, and pours oil onto it. The many stones (plural) from the night before converted into a single, large stone.

This miracle is meant to show us that with small rocks or values, we can build and develop a foundation with Hashem. Our rocks are our building blocks. Once we build this foundation, our many values will convert into one strong foundation.

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