PARSHA ON PARADE IS DEDICATED TO THE MEMORY
OF MY DEAR FATHER AND REBBI:
HARAV HAGAON RAV YESHAYA SHIMANOWITZ Z'TZL ,
YESHIVAS RABAINU YAAKOV YOSEF
(RABBI JACOB JOSEPH YESHIVA - RJJ)
IN NYC FOR OVER 23 YEARS.
NIFTAR ON 20 ADAR 5758 - MARCH 18, 1998.
MAY HE BE A MAYLITZ YOSHER FOR ALL OF KLAL YISROEL.
MY DEAR MOTHER
REBITZEN BRACHA ETEL SHIMANOWITZ A'H
WHO DEVOTED HER ENTIRE LIFE TO MY FATHER AND HIS TORAH,
NIFTERA ON 21 TEVET 5770 - WED EVE. JANUARY 6, 2010.
MAY SHE BE A MAYLITZA YOSHER FOR ALL OF KLAL YISROEL
Menachim Z. Shimanowitz
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Parsha or any other section of Torah Tots in honor or
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NO MITZVOT IN THIS PARSHA
NUMBER OF PESUKIM (SENTENCES): 148
NUMBER OF WORDS: 2021
NUMBER OF LETTERS: 7512
HAFTORA: (Additional portion, from Prophets, which is read after the Parsha)
Hoshea 12:13-14:10 (Ashkenazim);
(See Mishneh Brurah Siman 428 Subparagraph 22 in the name of the Chayei Adam that we add additional pesukim to the end of the Haftora in order to conclude the Haftora on a positive note - Yoel 2:26-27).
In our last episode, Esav traded his birthright for a pot of lentils.
Yitzchok didn't know that he was betting on the wrong twin and Rivka's
plan to get Yaakov the brachot of the firstborn was a success. Or was
it? Yaakov won't be settling back to enjoy his brachot anytime soon,
'cause Esav is burning mad and he wants Yaakov dead! So Yitzchok and
Rivka sent Yaakov packing to Charan where uncle Lavan lives. There he
will pick a wife from Rivka's family.
| As our Parsha
opens, Yaakov aims straight for the border, making one small pit
stop - for about 14 years - to study Torah at the Yeshiva
of Shem and Ever. Fourteen years later, Yaakov heads back down south
to his mother's home town. But just as he's about to enter Charan,
he realizes that he had passed a holy site without stopping there
to pray. That holy site is Har Hamoriah where Avrohom brought
Yitzchok to be sacrificed years ago. It is also the site of the
future Beit Hamikdash. Hashem accepts prayers more readily
at this site and Yaakov has a lot to pray for. So he backtracks
all the way to Har Hamoriah. Even though this is weeks
worth of travel, Yaakov makes the trip in a very short time.
A MIDNIGHT DREAM
Yaakov arrives at the spot just as the sun is setting. So he davens
Maariv and heads for bed. Well, actually there are no beds in sight, so
stones will have to do. Yaakov takes twelve stones and makes a pillow
out of them on the ground. He doesn't know it, but, miraculously, all 12
stones merge into one "fluffy" rock pillow, supporting this tzadik as he
Yaakov dreams of a ladder that stretches from the ground next to him all
the way up to the heavens. On this ladder, a line of Malachim (angels) are
climbing up to Shamayim. These are the Malachim that have protected him while he was in Eretz Yisroel. Along side them, another line of Malachim
make their way down the ladder to the earth. These new heavenly recruits
are coming to protect Yaakov in Charan. Hashem appears to Yaakov,
promising him that he will be protected until he returns to Eretz
When Yaakov wakes up he exclaims "I knew that this was a traditional
sacrificial area, but who knew this was such a holy place?" Now he
realizes that this place is the gateway to heaven. If only he had known
this before, he would never have slept here! Yaakov marks the spot with
the stone he slept on. He promises that if Hashem will truly protect
him, give him food and clothing and return him safely to Eretz Yisrael,
on this spot he will offer sacrifices and always give Hashem 10% of
everything he earns.
On the outskirts of Charan Yaakov meets up with a bunch of shepherds
standing around a well. Why? It's a matter of trust. You see, there's
only one well in the neighborhood. Everybody's got to use it, but no one
can trust their fellow shepherd alone with the water. So they have this
giant boulder covering the well. It takes the strength of all the
shepherds combined to move the rock off the well.
Yaakov asks the shepherds if they know Lavan.
we know Lavan?", they reply, "Why that's his daughter, Rachel,
waiting for the well cover to come off."
Yaakov takes one look at Rachel and it's love at "foresight." He
instantly knows that he is destined to marry Rachel. With little effort,
Yaakov lifts the stone off the well all by himself. Then he and Rachel
water the sheep together.
Rachel runs back to her father Lavan to tell him that the
grandson of Avrohom has arrived. Now, Lavan knows that Avrohom's
family has gelt. So he grabs Yaakov and gives him a big
hug - big enough to check Yaakov's pockets for cash. When the
loot doesn't show up on Yaakov's money belt, Lavan figures that
it must be hidden in Yaakov's mouth. So he kisses Yaakov. But
it soon becomes apparent that Yaakov is "shekelless"
- not even a gold tooth to his name.
Yaakov explains that he has left home without any servants, camels or
money. He had to get out of there before his brother Esav killed him.
Now it is up to Lavan to decide whether Yaakov can do his fair share of
work around the house. Lavan isn't too happy, but for his sister's son?
He can stick around a while.
Yaakov tends sheep for the first month before Lavan sits
him down to talk business: "You're pretty handy with a sheep,
Yaakov. Tell me, what kind of salary are you looking for long-term?"
Immediately Yaakov has a price in mind - Rachel. He is willing
to work seven years to marry Rachel. Lavan and Yaakov shake on
the deal but Lavan is already devising a dastardly plot to trick
Yaakov into sticking around longer.
Seven years pass and the wedding day arrives. Yaakov has waited all
these years for this day. But Lavan's plot is plotting a course for
disaster! Lavan switches brides on him. Instead of Rachel being in the
gown, it is her older sister, Leah.
Now Leah is known as the "sad" sister. It isn't that she's not
beautiful, but her eyes are always red from crying. Indeed, she has a
good reason to be sad. She knows that the children of Rivka are
destined to marry the children of Lavan. If Yaakov marries Rachel, she
will be stuck with Esav. That's a pretty good reason to cry, isn't it?
Lavan has it all figured out. He drapes Leah in a thick white veil so
that her face cannot be seen by Yaakov. Once they are married, Yaakov
will be forced to stick around another seven years to marry Rachel. But
even if Leah manages to get to the chupah unrecognized, there's still
the secret code!
Yaakov and Rachel have devised a code of questions and answers to be
sure Lavan won't pull just such a switch. Lucky for Leah, Rachel loves
her too much to make a fool out of her. Rachel teaches Leah the code
words so that Leah won't be embarrassed before all the wedding guests.
The chupah goes off without a hitch. Only the next morning does Yaakov
realize that he has married the wrong sister. Yaakov struts right over
to Lavan: "I worked 7 years to marry Rachel and instead you gave me
"Yaakov, my boy," Lavan retorts, "you must understand; in Charan the
older sister gets married before the younger one does; You want Rachel?
You had to marry Leah first. I'll tell you what I'll do... You can have
Rachel in exchange for another seven years of work."
It's a deal. But Yaakov won't wait it out another seven years. One week
later Yaakov and Rachel are married. Yaakov sticks to his word - more
than you can ask of Lavan! - and sticks around another seven years.
In Yaakov's day, a woman was valued by how many kids she had. Since
Yaakov thinks of Leah as a second-rate wife, Hashem gives Leah more
clout in the baby department. Right away, Leah is up four kids to none:
Reuven, Shimon, Levi and Yehuda. Rachel, on the other hand, is destined
to wait seven years before she will have any children.
Lavan has given each of his daughters a maidservant as a wedding gift.
Rachel suggests that Yaakov marry her servant, Bilha. In this way
Yaakov will have more children and perhaps Hashem will reward Rachel
with children of her own. Yaakov agrees. Bilha gives birth to two kids
right away, Dan and Naftali.
When Leah realizes that she is having a childbearing dry spell, she
follows in her sister's footsteps and gives Yaakov her maidservant,
Zilpah. Zilpah, too, gives birth to two kids in a row: Gad and Asher.
After these two are born Leah gives birth to three more children,
Yissachar, Zevullun and a daughter, Dina.
Finally, Hashem grants Rachel a child. She calls him Yosef. Later she
will have one more child whom she will call Binyamin.
Yaakov has lived in Charan for 20 years when Hashem tells him that it's
time to go back home. He meets with Lavan to get permission to leave
with his wives and kids. First thing's first, though. There is some
business to settle. According to Yaakov's calculations, Lavan owes him
big wages. Yaakov worked 14 years for Rachel and Leah. That leaves six
years salary unpaid. That's a lot of shekels for Lavan to swallow.
Yaakov has an idea. All these years he's been herding sheep and goats.
So he suggests that he will take all spotted sheep and brown goats born
to the herds during the next year. Well, Lavan is happy that his
son-in-law is such a sap. How many animals could that possibly be? But
to Lavan's dismay, the herds begin to multiply like rabbits! Every sheep
from then on is born with spots and every goat with a brown coat!
When Lavan realizes that the deck is stacked against him,
he calls Yaakov back to modify the deal. Apparently Lavan "accidentally"
said that Yaakov should take the spotted sheep and brown goats.
He really meant to say that Yaakov should take all the sheep except
the spotted ones and all the goats except the brown ones!
Well, once that "mistake" is cleared up, Lavan goes out to the pasture
to watch his flocks and notices that none of the newborn sheep have
spots and none of the goats are born with a brown coat! Needless to
say, Lavan isn't happy about this. He changes the deal over and over -
"I meant this... I had amnesia... you heard me wrong...!" But no matter
how he cuts the deal, Yaakov comes up with a bigger slice of the herd.
Ultimately the deal makes Yaakov a very rich man.
| If there's one
thing that Yaakov learns from Lavan, it's how to pick just the right
moment. Yaakov knows that, no matter what Lavan says, he will never
let him leave Charan with Rachel and Leah. Yaakov lays low for a
while. It seems to Lavan that Yaakov is settling back in. No packed
bags, no moving trucks. Nothing to worry about. Then one day when
Lavan heads out on a three day trip, Yaakov sees his chance to skedaddle!!
He takes his wives, his children and all his possessions and makes
a run for it!
Little does Yaakov know that before leaving town, Rachel decides to do a
little redecorating. She steals all of her father's idols and hides
them in her camel's saddle bag.
When Lavan gets back from his trip, he's fuming! How dare Yaakov just
take off! Lavan gathers a party to pursue and punish Yaakov. But that
night, a Malach appears to Lavan in a dream and warns him not to dare
harm the righteous Yaakov. When Lavan catches up to Yaakov, he remembers
the Malach's words and gives him a piece of his mind instead of a piece
of his fist.
"Why did you sneak away from my home and steal my idols?"
Yaakov replies that he was afraid Lavan would never let him leave. As
for the idols, Yaakov has no idea what Lavan is talking about. But just
in case Lavan's not convinced, Yaakov announces that whoever has stolen
the idols will die!
Lavan is then invited to search the camp for his idols.
him up on the offer, he searches the entire camp. When it comes
time to search Rachel's camel, she tells her father that she can't
get off the animal because she's not feeling well. Lavan accepts
her reason at face value and moves on. When the search is over
Lavan has to admit that there are no idols in sight.
Lavan know's when he's beat. Since Hashem won't let him beat up Yaakov
anyway, he suggests they make a treaty. Yaakov lifts a huge stone and
stands it up as a landmark. Yaakov commands his sons to gather stones
and set them up on a pile. Lavan and Yaakov eat a meal together and
promise each other that the large stone and heap of stones will be a
reminder to their descendants of this peace treaty. Then Lavan heads
back to Charan and Yaakov moves on to Eretz Yisroel.
As the enter Eretz Yisroel, the Malachim who guarded Yaakov in Charan head back up to Shamayim, replaced by a new set of Malachim. These Malachim will protect Yaakov and his family in Eretz Yisroel - and
they've arrived just in time!
Tune in next week when Yaakov finally faces his eternal enemy - Esav, in
the next exciting episode of:
the Midrash Maven on Vayetzei
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