This week we have the trials and tribulations of Jacob living with and working for his father-in-law, Laban. Jacob agreed to work as a shepherd 7 years for Rachel only to have Laban switch daughters on him at the marriage ceremony. This is why we have the badekin (‘covering’ ceremony) where the groom sees the face of his bride to ensure he is marrying the right woman before he covers her with the veil.
As Jacob tries to build his equity, Laban changes their agreement time after time. After 20 years, the Almighty tells Jacob the time has come to return to the land of Canaan. Jacob and his household secretly leave only to be pursued by Laban who has claims to put forth. The story ends with peace and blessings between Jacob and Laban.
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based on Growth Through Torah by Rabbi Zelig Pliskin
The Almighty told Jacob in a dream:
“And your descendants will be like the dust of the earth.” (Genesis 28:16).
What kind of blessing is this? Everyone tramples upon the dust of the earth!
The Almighty was foretelling to Jacob the many trials and travails that the Jewish people would face throughout history — the exiles, the persecutions, the confiscations, the pressures to deny our heritage. However, the Almighty was also telling Jacob an important point of consolation — in the end, in the final days of redemption, in the time of the Moshiach (Messiah), the Jewish people will overcome their tormentors and prove victorious, just as at the end of his life, the tormentor is buried and covered by the dust of the earth.
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based on Love Your Neighbor by Rabbi Zelig Pliskin
Laban searched all of Jacob’s possessions, but did not find his missing idols. The Torah tells us:
“And Jacob was angry and quarreled with Laban. And Jacob answered and said to Laban, ‘What is my trespass? What is my sin that you have pursued after me?’ ” (Genesis 31:36)
What lesson for life can we learn from how Jacob responded to Laban?
The Midrash makes note of Jacob’s self-control despite his anger. Laban accused Jacob of stealing his idols. After Laban had inspected all of Jacob’s possessions and did not find anything, Jacob felt that Laban had fabricated the entire accusation (Sforno). However, despite his anger, Jacob did not say anything that would antagonize Laban or stir up animosity and rancor. He merely defended himself against the accusation and restated his own innocence.
The Chofetz Chaim taught that from here we learn that a person should avoid becoming involved in a dispute, even when he knows that he is right.