Weekly Reading Insights: VaYetsei 5764



Overview of the Weekly Reading: VaYetsei

To be read on 11 Kislev 5764 (Dec. 6)

VaYetsei is the 7th Reading out of 12 in Genesis and 7th overall, and 12th out of 54 in overall length.
Genesis 28:10-32:3; Haftorah: Hosea 11:7-14:10 (because of 12:13 "And Yaakov fled to Aram...and served for a wife... and kept sheep.")
Pirkei Avot: not till after Passover

(Genesis 28:10 - 32:3) On the way to Charan, Yaacov stopped to sleep. He dreamt of a ladder standing on the ground and reaching heavenward with angels ascending and descending. G-d told Yaacov that He would give him the land upon which he slept. Yaacov was awed by this vision and made the stone upon which he slept holy to G-d, and renamed the area G-d's Temple. He vowed that if G-d would protect him, he would dedicate his life to G-d and give Him a tenth of his possessions. Yaacov continued his journey, and arrived at a well near Charan. Seeing his cousin Rachel with her father's sheep, Yaacov lifted the heavy stone atop the well for her, and returned with her to Lavan's house. He made a deal to work for Lavan for seven years, and then marry Rachel. Lavan deceived Yaacov and substituted his older daughter Leah.

Lavan told Yaacov that he could marry Rachel after the celebrations of the marriage to Leah, but he would have to work another seven years. The Parsha relates the birth of Yaacov's children through Leah, Rachel, and their handmaids Bilha and Zilpah. Yaacov decides to leave with his family, but then agreed to continue working for Lavan. Lavan and his sons became jealous of Yaacov's wealth. After six years, G-d told Yaacov to return to his birthplace. When they left, Rachel stole Lavan's idols. Lavan learned that they had gone, and chased after them. He sought his idols, and Yaacov, who did not know it was Rachel, said that whoever was found with them would not live. Lavan and Yaacov made a treaty, with G-d as witness.


From the holy Zohar, teachings of Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai (Z:07-64/VaYetsei )

And afterwards it is written, "I will give you the land [malchut] that you are lying upon". Now we have a vehicle for the Holy [chesed, gevura and tiferet]. Thus it is that Jacob saw that he was the completion of the forefathers.

For the full article, click to the "Weekly Torah" section on our KabbalaOnline site.

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From the holy Ari, Rabbi Yitzchak Luria of Safed (A:07-64/VaYetsei )

This, then, is the mystical meaning of the verse: "Jacob [Yaakov] left [or: 'went out from'] Be'er Sheva and went to Haran." The partzuf of Yaakov originates, as we have said, from the yesod of Abba after the extension of the yesod of Imma and terminated at the chest of Zeir Anpin. At that point [yesod of Abba] goes forth and is revealed from within the yesod of Imma, which is termed "Be'er Sheva," as we will explain.

For the full article, click to the "Weekly Torah" section on our KabbalaOnline site.

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From the Shelah, Shney Luchot HaBrit by Rabbi Isaiah Horowitz (S:07-64/VaYetsei )

The subject matter of wasting time is fraught with profound mystical significance, as every particle of time is a separate unit and none of it must be lost. A particle of time is perceived as an extension of G-d's eternity, or a mini-branch of the branches represented by His Ineffable Name.

For the full article, click to the "Weekly Torah" section on our KabbalaOnline site.


"He dreamed, and there was a ladder set up on the earth, and the top of it reached to heaven." (28:12)

Jacob's ladder is symbolic of prayer, the purpose of which is to connect the higher celestial spheres with the lower material plane. Moreover, prayer is a two-way street, elevating a person's corporeal nature while at the same time drawing spirituality down to earth.

(Likutei Diburim) (from L'Chaim #594)

"Jacob awoke from his sleep and said, Surely the L-rd is present in this place." (28:16)

Pharaoh, too, had a dream, about which the Torah states, "And Pharaoh awoke. And he slept and dreamed a second time." This expresses the essential difference between Jacob and Pharaoh: The first thing Jacob did when he woke up was direct his attention to G-dly service, studying Torah and praying. Pharaoh, by contrast, just turned over and went back to sleep!

(Rabbi Meir of Premishlan) (from L'Chaim #594)

"Surely G-d is present in this place, and I knew it not." (28:16)

How could Jacob not have known that G-d was present? We need to understand this statement in the context it was uttered. Jacob was coming directly from the Holy Land, where he had spent 14 years studying in the yeshiva of Shem and Eber. As a result, he had mistakenly concluded that a Jew can serve G-d only through Torah study. Now, however, he realized that a Jew can serve G-d even while he is sleeping, provided it is done for the sake of Heaven.

(Otzar Chaim)


from the Chabad Master series, produced by Rabbi Yosef Marcus for

www.ascentofsafed.com and www.kabbalaonline.org

An essay from Rabbi Shaul Yosef Leiter, director of Ascent

(for a free weekly email subscription, click here) (W:07-64/VaYetsei )

Vayetzei opens with the dramatic journey of one Jew alone, who leaves his home for a stange land. By his own testimony, he arrived with nothing but his walking stick. Nevertheless, he was filled with optimism and confidence, because he trusted G-d unconditionally. Even when the situation worsened, when his own relatives were ready to deceive him, his faith still did not waiver. And we see the results: through this faith and confidence Jacob merited great wealth. But more important, each of his children, the fathers of the 12 tribes, turned out to be exemplary - each one connected spiritually to G-d.

Let us look a little deeper. Abraham had a good son, Isaac, but he also had Ishmael. Isaac had a good son, Jacob, and another son, Esau. This is really peculiar, because both of our forefathers raised their children in Israel, the Holy Land, a protected, special environment. On the other hand, Jacob not only lived and established his family outside of Israel (in exile), but he and his wives had to constantly worry that their 12 sons should not learn from or be affected by the customs and habits of the local people.

In fact, Jacob made sure to fill his children with Jewish knowledge, which he himself had previously received from his father and from his great-grandfathers, Shem and Eber. Jacob succeeded in the two areas in which each of us wishes to attain success: in physical things, and in his more spiritual endeavors. What was his secret? His absolute faith in G-d. Each of us has to look at our lives and realize that we have nothing to rely upon but our Father in heaven.

The Baal Shem Tov comments on Jacob's famous dream of a ladder resting on the ground, its top reaching the heavens, angels going up and down on it. He points out that the numerical value of the word "ladder" (in Hebrew, "sulam") is 136, the same as the word for "money" ("mamon"). Money either elevates us or drags us down. Let us be counted among those who are raised up.

The Shlah begins his weekly discussion commenting on the obligation of an employer to pay salaries - a commandment that we learn from Jacob's experience with his uncle Laban, who constantly tried to cheat him of his fair wage. This also applies to each of us in our relationship with G-d. If we do our job and fulfill what the Almighty requires of us, then G-d, our employer (see Ethic of the Fathers 2:15-16), by His own command, is required to give us our due reward - not sometime in the future, but now.
Shabbat Shalom, Shaul Leiter

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