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Thursday, Kislev 7, 5782 / November 11, 2021


A synopsis of this week's Parsha, Vayeitzei


At the urging of his parents, Yaakov (Jacob) goes to Charan, to his uncle Lavan.  On the way, G-d appeared to him in a dream and promised to protect him.  Yaakov arrived in Charan and stopped by a well in the field.  There was a huge heavy stone upon the well.  Noticing three flocks of sheep lying idly by the well, Yaakov asked the shepherds, "Why aren't you giving the flock to drink?" They replied, "The stone upon the well is heavy.  We have to wait until all the shepherds gather so we can roll the stone off the mouth of the well". At that moment, Rachel, Lavan's daughter, came to the well with her father's sheep. "Upon seeing her, Yaakov rolled off the stone from the well by himself and Lavan's sheep drank."


Lavan had two daughters, the older one was Leah and the younger one was Rachel.  Yaakov loved Rachel. Yaakov said to Lavan, "I will serve you seven years for Rachel your younger daughter".  Lavan agreed and Yaakov worked for seven years. The Torah says, "And they seemed to him but a few days for the love he had for her."  


When the seven years were up, Lavan made a wedding-feast, but instead of Rachel, he gave Leah to Yaakov.  In the morning, Yaakov realized that it was Leah.  He said to Lavan, "What have you done to me? Did I not serve you for Rachel? Why have you fooled me?"


Lavan answered, "It isn't proper to give the younger daughter before the older one".  Lavan offered to give Yaakov his younger daughter, Rachel, in exchange for another seven years of work.  Yaakov agreed.  After seven days he married Rachel and in return worked for his father-in-law, Lavan, additional seven years.  Later, Jacob also married Bilha and Zilpa, the maid servants of Leah and Rachel.   Yaakov was 84 years old when he married Leah and Rachel.


Leah gave birth to four children; Reuben, Shimon, Levi and Yehuda.   "And Rachel saw she did not bear children to Yaakov and Rachel envied her sister; and she said to Yaakov: 'Give me children, if not I am a dead person'".  Yaakov replied, "Am I in the place of G-d, who had withheld from you the fruit of the womb".  Then Bilha gave birth to Dan and Naftali.   From Zilpah, Jacob had two sons, Gad and Asher.  After, Leah again gave birth to Issachar and Zevulun and a daughter, Dina


"G-d remembered Rachel and G-d opened her womb." Rachel gave birth to a son, "And she called him Yosef (Joseph) [which means to add], saying: May the L-rd add to me another son."   Rachel did have another son, Binyamin (as we will read in the following Parsha, Vayishlach), but she died during childbirth. From these sons of Yaakov came the 12 tribes of Israel.


After twenty years living with Lavan, Yaakov decided to take his family and return to his parents. It took two years until he finally came home, encountering many difficulties along the way. The birth of the Jewish nation was laden with difficulties. The end result was that it made us stronger and everlasting.