Parshas Vayeitzei

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By Rabbi Shloimie Lindenbaum

ושבתי בשלום אל בית אבי והיה ה’ לי לאלקים (פרק כח פסוק כא)

Yaakov runs away from Eisav’s vengeful wrath to his notorious uncle, Lavan. On the way he turns to Hashem and beseeches Him to deliver him whole and healthy, spiritually and physically, from Lavan’s house. He promises that if he is successful in his sojourn there and he returns safely then he will, “make Hashem for him as a G-d” (as per the Ramban’s explanation). R’ Shimon Schwab questions what Yaakov meant by this- hasn’t Hashem always been his G-d? R’ Schwab explains that Yaakov was nervous that if Hashem listens to his תפילה and he is successful in all areas during the next period of his life, he may begin to feel confident in his own abilities and start attributing all his success to himself and his good fortune. When things are going great, often people will forget the source of their ברכה and think that they achieved everything by themselves. To circumvent this pitfall, Yaakov makes a promise before he gets to Lavan that if he is successful there then he will continue to recognize Hashem as his G-d. He establishes now that all his future successes will have one source- Hashem.

ויהי בבקר והנה היא לאה (פרק כט פסוק כה)

Yaakov faithfully works for Lavan for seven years to merit marrying Rochel, Lavan’s youngest daughter. At the end, Lavan deceives him and has him marry Leah, with the excuse that the oldest girl must get married first. To marry Rochel, Yaakov needs to commit to an additional seven years of labor. The באר יוסף points out that we can take a remarkable lesson from here regarding כל מה דעביד רחמנא לטב עביד (everything that Hashem does is for the good). The situation seems terrible for Yaakov- he was taken advantage of, lied to, and manipulated into working for fourteen years. In a spiritual sense as well, he was affected detrimentally because through this he had to marry two sisters. Although at the time it was permitted, it is clear from חז”ל that it was not ideal for him to do something that would later become forbidden by the Torah. At face value there is no silver lining in his story. And yet, חז”ל tell us that many generations later, when בני ישראל are going into גלות, they pray at the grave of Rochel. She in turn beseeches Hashem to save her children from גלות. Specifically, she argues that she allowed her sister to marry the man who was meant for her (she told Leah the signs that she had arranged with Yaakov to confirm her identity) without being jealous, so too Hashem should subdue his “jealousy” of the idols that בני ישראל had worshipped. It is especially in the זכות of this תפילה that Hashem listens and redeems us from גלות. As is turns out, the dire situation of Yaakov in Lavan’s house is actually what saves his children so many years later. This can be an inspiration for us all to remember that every experience we have is from our loving Father and, however improbable it seems, is for our best.

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