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Vayeitzei Summaries

Vayeitzei 5779-2018

“The Deceivers are Deceived”

Jacob, the deceiver of Esau, is himself deceived by Laban. Torah law insists that employer-employee relationships must be based on truth and honesty.

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Vayeitzei 5778-2017

“Three Wells ”

Wells play an important role in the Torah and in Judaism. It is interesting to contrast the well of Jacob, with the wells of Eliezer and Moses in Midian.

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Vayeitzei 5777-2016

“The Great Deception”

Deceptions are found frequently in the book of Genesis. While they are often painful and devastating, they, on occasion, lead to great redemption and salvation.

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Vayeitzei 5776-2015

“Disclosing Personal Information For Shidduch Purposes”

The issue of relating private information for the sake of marriage is a serious one. The first encounter between Jacob and Rachel reveals some interesting facts and has bearing on this issue.

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Vayeitzei 5775-2014

“Twenty Years in the House of Laban”

The dream that Jacob dreams of a ladder set on earth leading up to heaven, with angels of G-d ascending and descending upon the ladder, provides Jacob with the necessary spiritual fortitude to endure and survive the twenty years that he spends in the house of Laban.

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Vayeitzei 5774-2013

“Jacob Separates from Laban”

There is much to learn from the complex separation process that takes place between Jacob and his wily father-in-law, Laban.

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Vayeitzei 5773-2012

“The Complex Relationship Between Jacob, Rachel and Leah”

Rabbi Joseph B. Soloveitchik sheds some light on the complex relationship between Jacob, Rachel and Leah.

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Vayeitzei 5772-2011

“In Haran–A Kiss is Still a Kiss”

When Jacob arrives in Haran, he meets his beautiful cousin, Rachel, at the well. Not long after, Scripture reports that Jacob kissed Rachel, and wept. Jacob’s bold action launched a millennia-long controversy about the propriety of male-female contact in Judaism.

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Vayeitzei 5771-2010

“The Hated Wife”

Is it possible that the great patriarch, Jacob, actually “hated” his wife? The commentators wrestle with this issue.

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Vayeitzei 5770-2009

“Punishment Awaits the Evildoers”

The great contemporary Bible commentator, Nehama Leibowitz brilliantly points out that Jacob’s deception at the hands of Laban is actually a punishment for deceiving his own father, and for stealing his brother’s blessings. Perhaps it’s time for the leaders and members of all faiths to speak out against evil and deception within their own religious ranks.

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Vayeitzei 5769-2008

“Leah, the Fourth Matriarch”

Our matriarch, Leah, bears six of Jacob’s twelve sons, and is nevertheless depicted as “s’nu’ah,” (literally “hated”). Leah, is a complex figure who earns the title “matriarch” and in some ways, outshines her favored sister, Rachel.

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Vayeitzei 5768-2007

“How Dare You Accuse Me!”

When Laban accuses Jacob of stealing his teraphim (household idols), Jacob confidently responds: “With whomever you find your gods, that person shall not live.” How is it possible for Jacob to be so certain that there was not a single thief among his family members or servants?

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Vayeitzei 5767-2006

“Dissing G-d”

G-d instructs Jacob to get up and leave Laban’s house. Instead of departing post haste, Jacob consults with his wives, and then decides to leave. Is this a direct affront to G-d?

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Vayeitzei 5766-2005

“Deceit, More Deceit and Teraphim

The theme of deception is central to parashat Vayeitzei as Laban deceives Jacob, and Jacob in turn deceives Laban. The final deception takes place as Rachel deceives her father, Laban, by stealing his Teraphim, his household idols, an act that the commentaries labor over diligently to comprehend.

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Vayeitzei 5765-2004

“Rachel: Portrait of a Matriarch”

This week’s parasha paints a broad and fascinating portrait of the beloved matriarch, Rachel. Rachel’s life is filled with moments of great exaltation and great desperation. There is much to learn from Rachel’s life and actions.

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Vayeitzei 5764-2003

“In Praise of Humility”

Perhaps, the greatness of Jacob, our forefather, lies in the fact that he recognized the need to “nullify” himself before G-d in order to come ever closer to Him. Humility, seeing who one really is in relation to G-d, and removing one’s ego from the picture, is a trait that is aspired to in every generation by Jewish leaders and laymen alike.

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Vayeitzei 5763-2002

“The Transformation of Jacob”

At first glance, Jacob appears to be a congenital deceiver. He takes the birthright from his brother then steals Esau’s blessing. Even Isaac describes the taking of the blessing by Jacob as an act of deception. Jacob however undergoes a transformation in which he realizes that evil cannot be deceived, but must be confronted directly. For this reason, Jacob is to be regarded as a particularly exalted figure, for teaching humankind how one is to deal with one’s own shortcomings.

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Vayeitzei 5762-2001

“From Ish Tam to Business Mogul: The Transformation of Jacob”

How does Jacob, who is described in the Torah as an ingenuous man who sits and studies in the tent, become so incredibly successful– a master businessman? According to Professor Ernest Van Den Haag much of it has to do with education, one of the most exalted values in Jewish life. It could be that when Jacob took a 14 year detour to study at the Yeshiva of Shem and Ever before he arrived at Laban’s, he sharpened his cerebral skills to prepare for his encounter with the wily Laban. Could it be that Jacob’s “Yeshiva” education also contributed to his incredible financial successes?

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Vayeitzei 5761-2000

“The Role of Mother Rachel in Jewish History”

Mother Rachel is not only the great matriarch, she also is considered the great defender of her children–the Jewish people. It is Mother Rachel who watches over her children as they go out to exile and return, passing by her grave located on the road to Bethlehem. How fortunate are her progeny to have a mother who is always there for them.

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Vayeitzei 5760-1999

“Who is the Real Enemy?”

Despite his rather minor textual role, Jewish history portrays Laban as a significant and evil character. He plays a major role in the Passover Hagaddah, referred to in that context as “the Aramanean who sought to destroy our father.” The literature is replete with all sorts of devious acts and trickery that Laban perpetrated on the Jewish people to undermine them. Laban is even considered more dangerous than Pharaoh. Pharaoh is an outright and public enemy. Laban, on the other hand, embraces us in a false embrace and his kiss is the kiss of death. He feigns love. That is why he is more dangerous than Pharaoh, since it is so difficult to recognize his subtle desire to destroy us.

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