Join our weekly Peninim on the Torah list!

עם לבן גרתי

With Lavan, I lived. (32:5)

Rashi interprets the phrase, Im Lavan garti, “With Lavan, I lived,” as a profound message to Eisav. The word garti has the same letters (hence, the same gematria, numerical value) as taryag, 613 (mitzvos). Yaakov intimated to Eisav, “I do not fear your influence on me. I lived for years with the wicked Lavan; yet, I did not learn from his evil ways. I still was able to observe all taryag mitzvos. Yaakov seems to be making two statements: A) I observed the entire Torah, B) I did not learn from Lavan’s evil ways. Is this not obvious? If one…

Continue Reading

ויותר יעקב לבדו

Yaakov was left alone. (32:25)

Chazal (Bereishis Rabbah 77) quote the pasuk in Devarim (32:25), Ein ka’Keil Yeshurun, rocheiv Shomayim b’ezarecha, u’v’gaavaso shechakim; “O, Yeshurun, there is none like G-d, riding through the heavens to help you, and in His majesty through the upper heights.” Chazal teach, “There is none like G-d, and who is like G-d? Yeshurun, the most pleasant and praiseworthy (straight and upright), pursuing their lives in undeviating duty.” (When a Jew achieves the level of Yeshurun in complete devotion to Hashem, he becomes “G-d-like,” achieving a level in this world that has no peer.) The Midrash concludes, “Who is like G-d?…

Continue Reading

ויאמר עשו יש לי רב ויאמר ויעקב ...וכי יש לי כל

And Eisav said, “I have much, And Yaakov said, I have everything.” (33:9,11)

The Chafetz Chaim, zl, states that the varied comments concerning their individual material bounty that Yaakov Avinu and Eisav ha’rasha expressed define their individual outlook on olam hazeh, this world. Eisav contended that he had much; a term that implied he could use more. With such an attitude, he would always seek more. One who has one hundred is dissatisfied. He now wants two hundred. He never has enough. On the other hand, Yaakov declared that he had everything. Material assets had little worth to Yaakov. He got by on what he had and what he had was all that…

Continue Reading

ויצא יעקב מבאר שבע וילך חרנה

Yaakov departed from Beer-Sheva and went towards Charan. (28:10)

Chazal (Bereishis Rabbah 68) address the concept of Heavenly intervention with regard to shidduchim, matrimonial matches. We derive from Yitzchak Avinu’s shidduch that mei’Hashem yatza ha’davar; “The matter stemmed from Hashem” (Ibid. 24:50). The Midrash states: “There are those for whom their zivug, pair/spouse, comes to them (as was manifest in the case of Yitzchak Avinu), and there are those who must go to their spouse (as was evinced with Yaakov Avinu, who had to travel to Canaan to seek his designated spouse). What is Chazal teaching us with this statement? It is a fact of life that some people…

Continue Reading

ועיני לאה רכות

And the eyes of Leah were soft. (29:17)

Why were Leah’s eyes soft? Chazal (Bava Basra 123) explain that Leah heard the conversation of people who would talk among themselves. “Rivkah had two sons; her brother, Lavan, had two daughters. The older daughter is (apparently) promised to the older son, and the younger daughter to the younger son.” Leah asked concerning the nature of the older son’s endeavors. (Obviously, if she were destined to marry him, it would be nice to know what type of life she was destined to have.) The response was: “The older son is an evil, base person, a thief who preys on the…

Continue Reading

ויפגעו בו מלאכי אלקים

And the Angels of G-d met him. (32:2)

The word va’yifga connotes an unexpected encounter. When the angels encountered Yaakov Avinu, it was an unusual experience for them. As Horav S. R. Hirsch, zl, explains, Yaakov Avinu was the first of the Avos, Patriarchs, who merited to have mitaso sheleimah, that all of his children were righteous and followed in his ways of serving Hashem. Even after living for twenty years in the home of the evil Lavan, they emerged spiritually unscathed. The level that Yaakov achieved was incredible for the angels to behold. It was a momentous experience for them to see such a family on earth…

Continue Reading

ויחרד יצחק חרדה גדולה עד מאד

Then Yitzchak trembled in very great perplexity. (27:33)

Yitzchak Avinu possessed the middah, attribute, of gevurah, strength. He feared nothing, because his belief in Hashem was so resolute that he understood that one has nothing to fear if he is with Hashem. The Almighty either protects the individual or He does not; if He does not protect him, fear is futile. Yitzchak had extraordinary control of his emotions. This was evident throughout the Akeidah, Binding (of Yitzchak), when he prepared to become an olah, sacrifice, for Hashem. He never questioned his father, Avraham Avinu, not even when he looked up at him and saw him poised with the…

Continue Reading

וישא עשו קולו ויבך

And Eisav lifted up his voice and wept. (27:38)

The Sefarim HaKedoshim teach that the few drops of tears which Eisav emitted have been the source of much trouble for our people throughout the millennia. In Eisav’s mind, Yaakov Avinu was the villain who stole his rightful blessings. He was so overwrought with pain at this perceived loss that he expressed emotion. Eisav was not an emotional person. He was a hardened criminal, but even criminals have feelings. These tears have stood against us as a prosecuting agent, condemning us and seeking reparation. While no one questions the veracity of the above statement, it still begs elucidation. We have…

Continue Reading

והיה כאשר תריד ופרקת עולו מעל צוארך

Yet it shall be that when you are aggrieved, you may cast off his yoke from your neck. (27:40)

The Chozeh, zl, m’Lublin observes (in a homiletic interpretation of this pasuk) that in some instances, one must close his Gemorah and engage in commerce or whatever endeavor is necessary in order for him to earn a livelihood. No one said it was going to be easy, but he should not be happy that he must do this. He would much rather continue learning, but he has to put bread on the table. If, however, his attitude is one of, “Great! I got out of learning. I can finally leave the bais hamedrash,” if it is one of v’hayah (the…

Continue Reading

ויהיו חיי שרה מאה שנה ועשרים שנה ושבע שנים

Sarah’s lifetime was one hundred years, twenty years and seven years. (23:1)

Rashi explains that the repetition of the word “years” divides the life of Sarah Imeinu into three periods, each with its own uniqueness. Each period, however, also shares a particular characteristic with its predecessor. Thus, at one hundred, she was as free of sin as a twenty-year old (a person does not suffer Heavenly punishment until age twenty), and at twenty she maintained the innocent, wholesome beauty of a seven-year-old. Rashi concludes, Kulan shavin l’tovah; “All of her years were equal in goodness.” Our Matriarch had a good life, in which each of her superior character traits synchronized with one…

Continue Reading

Subscribe To Our Newsletter

Join our weekly Peninim on the Torah list!

You have Successfully Subscribed!