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ויזכר אלקים את רחל

Hashem remembered Rachel. (30:22)

Rachel Imeinu was mevater, relinquished, that which she deserved in order to preserve her sister’s esteem. If Yaakov Avinu would have discovered that Leah had been exchanged for Rachel, it would have posed an embarrassing situation for Leah. To spare her the shame, Rachel gave up what was hers. Horav Yeruchem Levovitz, zl, adds that Rachel’s actions to spare her sister from humiliation also breached the trust Yaakov had in her. The Patriarch knew that Lavan was a swindler who would find some way to break his word at the very last moment. Thus, he made a pact with Rachel,…

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וייקץ יעקב משנתו ויאמר אכן יש ד' במקום הזה ואנכי לא ידעתי

Yaakov awoke from his sleep and said, “Surely Hashem is present in this place and I did not know.” (28:16)

Rashi explains that after discovering the level of holiness of the place in which he presently was, Yaakov Avinu was lamenting having slept. How does one dare to sleep in such a holy place? The Brisker Rav, zl, would become emotional when thinking about Yaakov’s reaction to discovering that he was in a consecrated place. The Patriarch had escaped from his brother, Eisav, who was bent on killing him.  On the way, he was waylaid by Elifaz, who took away all of his money. Therefore, since he had just received a prophecy that assured him, U’shemarticha b’chol asher teilech; “I…

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ויפגע במקום וילן שם

He encountered the place and spent the night there. (28:11)

This was no ordinary place. It was Har HaMoriah, where Avraham Avinu bound Yitzchak (Avinu) on the Mizbayach, Altar, which would later serve as the site of the Bais Hamikdash. Chazal interpret the word vayifga, “he encountered,” as “he prayed.” Yaakov Avinu’s encounter was of a spiritual nature. He encountered Hashem. Since it was evening, this is when the Patriarch initiated Tefillas Arvis, the Evening Prayer. Chazal (Chullin 91:13) teach that originally Yaakov had passed the place without giving it a second thought. When he reached Charan, he realized that he had passed the place where his father and grandfather…

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ויצא יעקב מבאר שבע ... ויפגע במקום וילן שם

Yaakov departed from Beer Sheva … He encountered the place and spent the night. (28:10,11)

Chazal (Megillah 17a) glean from the word sham, there, that this was the first time the Patriarch lay down to sleep. He had spent the past fourteen years “hidden” within the yeshivah of Shem and Eivar. I use the word “hidden” to underscore that Yaakov Avinu became a part of the yeshivah in such a manner that no one even knew he was there. He studied day and night, focused on one thing: learning Torah. The question that should be addressed is how Chazal knew that Yaakov was in the yeshivah. Simply put, after calculating Yaakov’s age at present and…

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ויצא יעקב מבאר שבע

Yaakov departed from Beer Sheva. (28:10)

Rashi comments that as long as Yaakov Avinu lived in Beer Sheva, he constituted its hod, glory, ziv, splendor, and hadar, beauty. Once he left the community, these qualities left with him – a phenomenon that occurs whenever a tzaddik, righteous man, of repute leaves a circle of people. His influence, which consists of these three qualities, departs with him. We must add that every individual tzaddik has his own unique form of these qualities. Thus, even though Yitzchak Avinu and Rivkah Imeinu remained, their form of these qualities left a different impact on those around them. Theirs was a…

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ותקנא רחל באחותה

Rachel became jealous of her sister. (30:1)

Horav Shabsi Yudelewitz, zl (grandfather and namesake of the famous maggid), knew that his days on this world were numbered. He was not a well man to begin with, and the physical travail which he sustained emigrating to Eretz Yisrael during the turn of the century, followed by the poverty and hunger he experienced in Yerushalayim, had taken its toll on him. He knew that would soon go the way of all men. He and his wife had been assured early in their marriage by a great tzaddik, righteous person, that “In the future, you will give birth to a…

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ויצא יעקב מבאר שבע... ושמרתיך בכל אשר תלך... כי לא אעזבך.

Yaakov departed from Be’er Sheva… I will guard you wherever you go… for I will not forsake you. (28:10,15)

Yaakov Avinu was compelled to make a hasty departure from Be’er Sheva. He would have loved living in the vicinity of his parents, but that would have meant putting his life in mortal danger. After Yaakov’s “appropriation” of the brachos, blessings, Eisav swore that he would seek ultimate revenge. This was Yaakov’s cue to take an extended trip. He stopped in Beis El, and, while he was there, he was privy to an incredible dream in which Hashem assured him of His Divine protection and blessing. It should have been all good, with the Patriarch calm and looking forward to…

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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…

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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…

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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…

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