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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…

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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…

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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…

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ויען לבן ויאמר אל יעקב הבנות בנתי והבנים בני... וכל אשר אתה ראה לי הוא

Then Lavan spoke up and said to Yaakov… “The daughters are my daughters, the children are my children…And all that you see is mine.” (31:43)

With an arrogance that is simultaneously astounding and becoming, Lavan lashes into Yaakov Avinu with a diatribe, asserting himself to be the victim and Yaakov to be the aggressor. We are accustomed to it. Throughout the generations, we have contributed to the success of our host nations and, at the end of the day, not only did we not receive our due, but we were also blamed for attempting to undermine them. In Maamar Yechezkel, authored by Horav Yechezkel, zl, m’Kuzmir, he cites his father, Horav Tzvi Hirsch, zl, who explains the word roeh (v’chol asher atah roeh, “All that…

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ויזכור אלקים את רחל וישמע אליה אלקים ויפתח את רחמה

Hashem remembered Rachel; Hashem hearkened to her, and He opened her womb. (30:22)

Hashem remembered the extraordinary empathy that Rachel Imeinu manifested for her sister’s plight. Lest she be discovered as Leah, Rachel gave her the predesignated signs that Yaakov Avinu (sensing that Lavan would pull off such a stunt) had originally given to her. Rashi explains that now that she was aware that she was barren, Rachel feared that Yaakov would divorce her, and she would be compelled to marry Eisav. (This is based upon the commentary that quoted people as saying that Lavan had two daughters, and his sister Rivkah Imeinu had two sons; the older son (Eisav) would marry the…

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ויהי בערב ויקח את לאה בתו ויבא אתה אליו

And it was in the evening that he took Leah, his daughter, and brought her to him. (29:23)

True to his reputation as a swindler, Lavan did not keep his word to give Rachel Imeinu to Yaakov Avinu. He substituted Leah Imeinu for Rachel. This ruse would not have worked had Rachel not given over to her sister the designated signs that Yaakov had arranged with her. The Patriarch knew what kind of thief his prospective father-in-law was. He did not, however, count on the extraordinary love that Rachel harbored for Leah. The relationship between siblings should serve as a paradigm for the relationship between friends. When we speak of a relationship between two friends, the friendship between…

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ויעבד יעקב ברחל שבע שנים ויהיו בעיניו כימים אחדים באהבתו אותה

So Yaakov worked seven years for Rachel, and they seemed to him a few days because of his love for her. (29:20)

For some people life is far from a bed of roses. Yet, they persevere and forge ahead, often joyfully. Why? They believe that achieving their intended goal far outweighs any form of hardship they have been forced to endure. Pain is relative. If the goal means enough to the person, the pain, discomfort, anxiety are all worth it. Yaakov Avinu was an extraordinary masmid, diligent student of Torah. He did not waste a minute from Torah learning. During the fourteen years that he studied in the yeshivah of Shem and Ever, he did not lay down to sleep, so great…

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ויצא יעקב מבאר שבע

Yaakov departed from Beer Sheva. (28:10)

Chazal (Talmud Megillah 17a) deduce that Yaakov Avinu was sixty-three years old when he left his parents’ home. Fourteen years later, when Yaakov was seventy-seven, Yosef was born. When Yosef stood before Pharaoh, he was thirty years old – making Yaakov one hundred and seven years old. We add to this seven years of plenty and two years of famine to reach a sum total of one hundred sixteen, which should have been Yaakov’s age when meeting Pharaoh. When Yaakov stood before Pharaoh, however, he stated his age as one hundred and thirty – leaving us with a discrepancy of…

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ואולם לוז שם העיר לראשונה

However, Luz was the city’s name originally. (28:19)

A man goes through life – and then he passes to the next world – the real world, the world of Truth. What is left of all the years that he spent on this world? Nothing but memories: no money; no material assets; no distinction – only memories. In order to perpetuate themselves, people build monuments, erect buildings, make tributes to their achievements. Why? So that they will be remembered. We are so fickle. Everything is for one purpose: so that the next generation will not forget us. No one wants to be forgotten, but are we prepared to lead…

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וישא את קלו ויבך

And he raised his voice and wept. (29:11)

Yaakov Avinu wept when he met Rachel Imeinu. He meets the girl that he is going to marry, the wife with whom he is destined to build Klal Yisrael, and he cries. One would expect a somewhat different reaction. Rashi offers two reasons for our Patriarch’s anomalous reaction. First, Yaakov saw b’Ruach ha’Kodesh, through Divine Inspiration, that Rachel would not be buried near him. Why was Yaakov Divinely inspired at this moment? Was there no other time for Yaakov to see b’ruach ha’kodesh that he would not be buried with Rachel? Second, Rashi offers a reason for Rachel’s loss of…

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