Torah Tidbits

29 August 2014 / 3 Elul 5774
Issue 1020
Shabbat Parshat Vayeitzei
November 22, 2012

Divrei Menachem

Divrei Menachem

This week’s parsha portrays the devious nature of Yaakov’s uncle (and future father-in-law) Lavan to whom Yaakov flees both to escape Eisav’s machinations and to look for a wife. The Torah describes how, after Yaakov’s encounter with Rachel at the well, Lavan ran towards his nephew, embraced him and kissed him, and took him to his house (B’reishit 29:13).
However, after many years of toil and contending with Lavan’s deceit, Yaakov runs away from Lavan’s house in Haran. He fled with all he had; he arose and crossed the river and Lavan chased him all the way to Mt. Gil’ad. Lavan complains to Yaakov, inter alia, that his nephew, “Did not, even allow me to kiss my sons and daughters” (31:28).
The contrast between Lavan’s warm reception of Yaakov and his cold demeanor on Yaakov’s departure is glaring, to say the least. To put this in perspective, Rashi, citing the Midrash, comments that Lavan’s initial embrace of Yaakov was no more than the gesture of a greedy man exploring Yaakov’s person in the expectation of finding it laden with precious gifts.
And referring to Yaakov’s clandestine departure, the Chafetz Chayim noted that Lavan would only have kissed, “My sons and my daughters” - but not Yaakov! How typical this is of those people who embrace us when they think they need us but abandon us when we no longer serve their interests. When will we learn how to embrace others for their sakes and not for ours?

Shabbat Shalom, Menachem Persoff

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