Points to Ponder 5775

VaYetze  5775

And Yaakov left Be’er Sheva  (28:10) – Rashi notes that when a Tzaddik leaves a place it leaves an impression. Rav Yaakov Yitzchak Kalmanovitz ztl. once recalled a comment made by the Malbim who, in context of fleeing from the Maskilim of the city he worked in, was asked how the departure of a Tzaddik didn’t make an impression on those people? He explained that in order for the departure of a Tzaddik to leave an impression, there must be those left behind who can be impressed. Hence, when Avraham left Ur Kasdim, there is no mention of any impression for no one was left behind to care. However, when Yaakov left, he left Rivka and Yitzchak and the impression was noticed.

And Yaakov awoke in the morning (28:16) – The Midrash (Berashis Raba 69) quotes Rav Yochanan who explains that he got up from his learning (his mishna). Why does the Midrash choose this “far out” approach? Rav Dovid Tevel ztl. explains that if Yaakov had indeed ben sleeping, it would have been enough to say he awoke. By adding the word M’Shnaso, one learns that there was something else going on. By knowing that one who studies Torah at night has a greater experience of the Shechina with him, we understand the reason for the comment of the midrash.

And Yaakov said to them “My brothers where are you from” (29:4) – When did the shepards become brothers to Yaakov? Rav Yosef Kahanneman ztl. explains that later in the same conversation, he gives them Mussar about going  back to work. Where does he get off assuming that they would bother to listen to a stranger from Canaan? Rav Kahaneman answers that when one begins a conversation by showing the other side that he is interested in them and in what they have to say and stand for – a sense of brotherhood – they are willing to open dialogue with him and even listen to what he has to say.

And Leah’s eyes were soft (29:16) – Rav Meir of Primishlan ztl. used to remark that she used to cry when she heard that Eisav had a younger brother who was a tsaddik but could not exert any influence on him.

 How did Yaakov marry 2 sisters? (29:30) – Ramban explains that in Eretz Yisrael one volunteers to keep the Torah. It did not apply in Chutz LaAretz. Rav Schachter Shlita quoted Rav Yaakov Kamenetzsky ztl.  who noted that originally he promised to marry Rachel and was tricked. The end of the day, he needed to break his promise to Rachel. Sometimes Shev V”Al Taaseh is not better.  Since here he was keeping a chumra not to marry 2 sisters but breaking his word was an Issur, Shev V’Al Taaseh would not apply. Rav Schachter explained that sometimes we need to choose the lesser of evils.  Sometimes we lose the real din in the Chumros. We need to consider both.


Why did you trick me (29:25) – The trickery utilized by Lavan touched off a major sibling rivalry between Rachel and Leah who went from being sisters to being Tzoros which touched off sibling rivalries in their children in the future as well. Later in the Parsha, Yaakov is duped by Lavan’s trickery in switching his salary one hundredfold. Is this Midda K’Negged Midda for tricking Yitzchak? How is that possible if the only reason he did trick his father was because of his mother’s command? Rav Avraham Rivlin Shlita explains that even though Yaakov was tested with the opposite of his natural strength (Ish Emes tested with Sheker) and he passed the test, he still needed to deal with the “side effects” of the use of subterfuge. Therefore although he was correct for using Sheker with Yitzchak, the Sheker left an impression on him that needed to be cleansed via being on the receiving end.

And he called the place Machanayim (32:3) – Ramban explains that he called the place Machanayim to note that the place was similar to the camp of the Malachim. Rav Shlomo Wolbe ztl. asked what the significance of comparison to Malachim (which we do daily in Kedusha BTW,) was all about. He answered that in the same way that Malachim, spiritual powers from spiritually advance places bless Hashem through their work, we too, do spiritually fulfilling things here in the Olam Haasiya.

Haftorah:  And Yaakov ran away to the fields of Lavan and Yisrael worked for a woman and he guarded for a woman (Hosea 12:13-14) – Why is he first referred to as “Yaakov” and later as “Yisrael”? Why the double mention of the women? Maran Harav Schachter Shlita pointed out that the reference was to Yaakov’s experiences with finding a Shidduch. First, he set his eyes on finding a wife and worked at it but it was as easy as a few days. However, after the trickery, the additional years were served in earnest – yet Yaakov had to work harder at it emotionally. Rav Schachter pointed out that the toughness of the Shidduch process for Yaakov was necessary because each of these marriages would produce members of the Shevatim and ultimately Am Yisrael. Things that come with effort and sometimes through difficulty, are things that last. Thus, the Novi begins with Yaakov but ultimately the destiny of the Jewish people result as a consequence of Yaakov’s efforts and his attitude of sticking with it.