Join our weekly Peninim on the Torah list!

ויאהב יעקב את רחל ... ויהיו בעיניו כימים אחדים באהבתו אתה

Yaakov loved Rachel … and they seemed to him a few days because of his love for her. (29:18,20)

Targum Onkeles translates va’yahav, and (he) loved… u’r’cheim, and (Yaakov) was sympathetic towards (Rachel). The accepted translation of ahavah is love. Onkeles seems to equate love with rachamanus, compassion/sympathy. Horav Gamliel Rabinowitz, Shlita, explains that true love is derived from compassion/empathy. Furthermore, one whose love is not founded in sympathy loves only himself. He does not really love the other person. The well-known aphorism from the Kotzker Rebbe, zl, comes into play here.  A chassid once remarked to the Rebbe that he loved fish. The Rebbe countered that veritably he loved himself, and fish satisfied him. If he truly loved…

Continue Reading

וידר יעקב נדר לאמר אם יהיה אלקים עמדי ... וכל אשר תתן לי עשר אעשרנו לך

Then Yaakov took a vow, saying, “If G-d will be with me…and whatever You will give me, I shall repeatedly tithe to You.” (28:20,22)

The word leimor, saying, is an implication to future generations, that they, too, shall vow in times of distress. Chazal (Midrash Rabbah, Bereishis 70) say, “Yaakov was the first to vow, thus all those who vow in the future should attach their vow to him.” Yaakov Avinu merited that all sincere vows be connected and attributed to his vow. He paved the way for people to vow to Hashem. Thus, when anyone commences a mitzvah, a project, an endeavor that will help others or increase service to Hashem, the merit all reverts to he who took the first plunge, who…

Continue Reading

ותאמר אל יעקב הבה לי בנים ... ויחר אף יעקב ברחל ויאמר התחת אלקים אנכי

She said to Yaakov … “Give me children” … Yaakov’s anger flared up at Rachel and he said, “Am I in the place of G-d?” (30:1,2)

Rachel Imeinu pleaded with Yaakov Avinu to grant her children. Chazal (Midrash Rabbah 71:7) explain that she was asking that he pray on her behalf as his father, Yitzchak Avinu, had prayed on behalf of his mother, Rivkah Imeinu. Yaakov was brought to anger by virtue of her implication that he had the ability to give or withhold children. Then he added what appears to be a callous statement: “You say I should be like my father. He had to pray for my mother, because she, too, had no children. (If she would not have conceived, he would also have…

Continue Reading

ויהי בבוקר והנה היא לאה

And it was, in the morning, that behold it was Leah. (29:25)

Yaakov Avinu was acutely aware of Lavan’s corrupt nature. He made it a point to spell out clearly, b’Rachel bitcha ha’ketanah, he wanted to marry Rachel, Lavan’s younger daughter. Not trusting Lavan to adhere to his word, Yaakov made up simanim, signs, which would signal to him whether Lavan had, in fact, made a switch. Rachel, however, was uncomfortable with the notion that her sister would be humiliated. So, she shared the simanim with her. She was certain that Yaakov would agree that it was wrong to allow Leah to be so shamelessly treated. Therefore, she did not ask, she…

Continue Reading

ויעקב איש תם יושב אהלים

Yaakov was a wholesome man, abiding in tents. (25:27)

Onkeles interprets ish tam as g’var shlim, perfect/whole man; and yosheiv ohalim as meshamesh bais ulfana, served/studied in the house of Torah study. Yaakov Avinu achieved perfection in that his neshamah, soul, filled his entire body; he essentially became a totally spiritual (spiritually-oriented) person. Yaakov expunged whatever negative spiritual forces that might have existed within him, to the point that his pure soul was in complete control of his being. Chazal teach (Bava Basra 16a) that Eisav kofar b’Ikar, denied the Ikar, Hashem; he was a heretic who had no regard for anything spiritual. He believed in nothing. He demonstrated…

Continue Reading

ויאהב יצחק את עשו כי ציד בפיו

Yitzchak loved Eisav, for game was in his mouth. (25:27)

Yitzchak Avinu’s love for Eisav has been the topic of many a commentator’s pen. The Patriarch achieved an extraordinary level of spirituality. He was a Navi, Prophet, having reached a level of yiraah, awe of Hashem, that was unparalleled. As the Olah Temimah, perfect sacrifice, his devotion to the Almighty was without peer. He was the Amud ha’Gevurah, Pillar of spiritual strength. Taking all of this into consideration, we wonder how such a holy, perceptive tzaddik could possibly have been blind to Eisav’s corruption. Moshe Rabbeinu did not kill the Egyptian until he saw that no righteous person would ever…

Continue Reading

עקב אשר שמע אברהם בקלי וישמר משמרתי מצותי חקתי ותורתי

Because Avraham hearkened My voice and safeguarded My charge, My commandments, My statutes and My laws. (26:5)

In his commentary to the above pasuk, Sforno makes an important point. He notes that Hashem promised Yitzchak Avinu to multiply his offspring, grant his descendants the Land and bless them – all because of His oath to Avraham Avinu. We see here (explains Sforno) that z’chus Avos, merit of others (his father, Avraham Avinu) is invoked when Hashem speaks to Yitzchak. Not so with Avraham (who did not have z’chus Avos) or Yaakov. This is because, before Yitzchak was inspired to call upon the Name of Hashem (after Gerar), when Avimelech came to him and said, “We saw that…

Continue Reading

הקל קול יעקב והידים ידי עשו

The voice is Yaakov’s voice, but the hands are Eisav’s hands. (27:22)

Chazal derive from the above pasuk that when the voice of Yaakov Avinu prevails – when Torah is studied and his descendants are engaged in prayer – the murderous hands of Eisav have no power against us. When we slack off and weaken our vocal power, Eisav and his minions are strengthened.  When we read the pasuk, however, the implication is different. It almost appears as if Yaakov lives by his voice and Eisav by his hands – and there is no counterbalance, such that one rises and the other falls. Furthermore, the word kol (ha’kol) the voice, is written…

Continue Reading

הקל קול יעקב והידים ידי עשו

The voice is Yaakov’s voice, but the hands are Eisav’s hands. (27:22)

Yitzchak Avinu sensed a contradiction. The manner in which the “son” who stood before him spoke was gentle, pleasant and respectful. Hence, he assumed that it was Yaakov who stood before him. On the other hand, once he felt his hairy arms, he thought it was Eisav. Alternatively, the power of Yaakov’s voice was in his ability to plead with Hashem through the medium of prayer. Eisav was a “hands on” man; he lived with his hands – plundering and murdering. Nothing stood in the way of his hands. One question that weighs heavily on the reader: If Yitzchak questioned…

Continue Reading

ויקם אברהם מעל פני מתו וידבר אל בני חת

Avraham rose up from the presence of his dead, and spoke to the Bnei Cheis. (23:3)

This group of people, Bnei Cheis, is mentioned ten times in the parsha. The Torah is frugal with words and does not use an extra word unless it teaches a lesson or has unique significance. Therefore, the ten-time redundancy of Bnei Cheis (nine times in this parshah and once in Parshas Vayechi) begs elucidation. Chazal explain that these ten mentions correspond to the Ten Commandments, in order to teach the lesson that whoever assists in the business dealings of a tzaddik, righteous person, it is considered as if he carried out the Ten Commandments. This is a powerful statement. We…

Continue Reading

Subscribe To Our Newsletter

Join our weekly Peninim on the Torah list!

You have Successfully Subscribed!