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Parshas Vayeitzei

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Parshas Vayeitzei
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Yaakov's Ladder - Climb It Slowly Or Else You Could Fall

The Klausenberger Rebbe zt"l says Yaakov's ladder symbolizes the two approaches to self improvement. One way is to decide what you want to improve and map out a plan where you improve step by step until you reach your decided goal. This slow but steady journey has a good chance of success. If you work hard you will ultimately get there. That is what the pasuk says "V'Hinei Sulam Mutzav Artza V'Roishoi Magiah Hashamayma"; if the ladder is planted firmly on the ground, by climbing it one rung at a time you get you all the way as far as the heavens.

The second way is to go straight to the top and immediately begin to act according to your loftiest ideals, like the perfect tzaddik. This method usually ends rather quickly in miserable failure. To this the pasuk says "V'Hinei Malachei Elokim"; if you want to be like a malach right away, then "Olim V'Yordim Boi" you will rise very quickly but you will go right back down just as quick.

Leah Got More Than She Deserved, Did You?

When Leah had her fourth child she named him Yehudah, saying, "HaPaam Odeh Es Hashem" - "This time I must thank Hashem". Rashi is bothered, why is it specifically by this child that she had to thank Hashem? He explains, Leah knew that Yaakov would have 4 wives and 12 children. According to the calculation, it comes out to 3 children per wife. Therefore, when Leah had her forth child she said, "HaPaam Odeh Es Hashem" - "This time I must thank Hashem" - As Rashi explains, "ShNatalti Yoser MiChelki" - "For I have received more than my portion."

I once heard a pshat, it is for this reason, the Jewish Nation is known by the name "Yehudi". Since every Jew must look at what his lot is in this world and say, "Natalti Yoser MiChelki" - I have received more than my share.... More than I deserve!!

Yes, Besuel Is Chopped Liver

The Trumas HaDeshen says in a Teshuvah, if one's father is a Mumar (one who rejects some or all parts of the Torah) he should not be called up for an Aliyah by his father's name, rather by his grandfather's name. He brings a proof from this week's parsha where Yakov asks the people of Charan if they knew Lavan. Yaakov asked, "HaYidaatem Es Lavan Ben Nachar? - "Do you know Lavan the son of Nachar? We all know that Lavan's father was Besuel not Nachar. Why then did he refer to him as "Lavan Ben Nachar"? It must be since Besuel was a Mumar; Yaakov did not want to refer to him as "Lavan Ben Besuel" rather, "Lavan Ben Nachar"!

Rav Yaakov Kaminetsky - Yo Brother! What Are You Doing?

When Yaakov came to Charan, he encountered a group of shepherds. He asked them, "Achai MayAyin Atem" - "My brothers where are you from?" R' Yaakov Kaminetsky asks, why does Yaakov refer to these total strangers as "Achai" - "My brothers?"

If you look a bit further in the pasuk, we find that Yaakov admonishes these shepherds for gathering the flock in middle of the day to take them home. Yaakov said, "Look, the day is still long; it is not time to bring the livestock in." R' Yaakov says, when one wants to give Mussar to another person, he must first have a relationship with that person. One cannot be the one to only offer admonishment. He must first be a friend and then can he be a mentor to criticize. Yaakov first creates a friendship with the shepherds of Charan by saying, "My brothers where are you from?" Only after that was he able to admonish by saying, "it is not time to bring the livestock in."

Double Letter "Sin" In Yissaschar Or Not?

"And Leah said, "Hashem has granted me my reward for giving my maidservant (Zilpah) as a wife to Yaakov and she called this son Yissaschar". Yissachar comes from the word "Schar" - "reward". Daas Zekainim MiBaalai HaTosfos are bothered why the name "Yissaschar" is spelled with 2 "Sins"? They answer, there are 2 reasons for the name Yissachar.

1) "Nasan Hashem Sichari" - "Hashem has granted me my reward for giving my maidservant (Zilpah) as a wife to Yaakov"

2) In pasuk 16, Leah says to Yaakov "Ki Sachar Sicharticha BiDuda'ai Binee"- "I have hired you in exchange for the Dudaim that I gave Rachel"

The 2 shins correspond to the 2 reasons of his name. One shin for "Nasan Hashem Sichari" - "Hashem has rewarded me, and the other for "Sachar Sicharticha" - "I have hired you..."

Since the second reason was demeaning for Yaakov (he was exchanged for some herbs), the second sin is not pronounced.

The Chasam Sofer disagrees and says, the first time Yissachar's name is written in the Torah (which is in this parsha) it should be pronounced with a double "Sin", and after that with 1 "Sin".

Rav Moshe Shmuel Shapira: Mama Rochel Understood That Tending To A Broken Heart Comes Above Even Kavod Hashem

When Rochel out of frustration complained to Yaakov about not having children, Yaakov got angry with her. The mefarshim say, based on a medrash, that Yaakov was punished for getting angry at Rochel and telling her that she needs to daven to Hashem and not complain to him. Rav Moshe Shmuel Shapiro in his sefer Zahav Mishva points out that Yaakov was defending Kavod Shamayim and was correct that Rochel's complaints were unjustified. His mistake was that he addressed the words that she spoke and not the pain in her heart. Had he pierced the veil of her soul he would have known that because of her anguish the words escaped her mouth and she was not accountable for them. He should have been slower to defend Kavod Shamayim and faster to understand human suffering.

This he explains was the greatness of Rochel. After Churban Bayis Rishon when Bnei Yisroel went into Galus all the Avos and Imahos came before Hashem with all their great zechusim but were turned away empty handed. All the heroism of the Akeida, Yaakov's torah, and lives of pure mesiras nefesh to build Klal Yisroel did not impress Hashem in that dark moment of history. The only one who merited Hashem's attention was Rochel Imeinu. What was her great act that warranted this special treatment? Her giving the simanim to her sister to help fool Yaakov? Although heroic indeed, in her mind, she was sabotaging the history of the Jewish nation since she understood that it was her and Yaakov that were destined to build the nation. Nevertheless she chose to cast aside her own destiny and even Hashem's grand plan in order to save her sister from a single embarrassing moment.

Only Rochel who had such a deep understanding of another person's pain and how it carries more weight than the entire Jewish experience can be Hashem's emissary to bring his children's pain before Him. Only tears from Mama Rochel can bring the Geula.

Rav Elyashiv - We Came Home To Eretz Yisroel, Did We Need To Steal From The Goyim On The Way?

Lavan catches Yaakov who fled his home to go back to Eretz Yisroel. Lavan says to Yaakov "Im Nichsof Nichsafta L'Bais Avicha"; I understand your desire and motivation to return home to your parents but.. "Lama Ganavta Es Eloihoi", why did you steal my Idols on the way. That was spiteful and for this I don't forgive you.

Rav Elyashiv said many years ago (Divrei Agaddah) that this applies to the situation in Eretz Yisroel. After many long years living among the Goyim in Galus, Hashem brought us back home to Eretz Yisroel to be with our Father. By why when we left the Galus did we need to "steal" all the "avodah zara" the foreign culture, and bring it back to Eretz Yisroel with us? We always said "How can we sing Hashem's songs in foreign lands" then why now do we live to the tune of foreign songs in Hashem's land?

Rav Chaim Shmuelevitz - Eliphaz, The Mixed Up Yeshiva Boy Is The Father of Amalek

Eisav sends his son Eliphaz to kill Uncle Yaakov. Eliphaz, the good son he is, hunts down Yaakov immediately. But when he sees Yaakov, he has trouble pulling the trigger. Why? Because Eliphaz grew up in the Yeshiva and under the influence of his grandfather Yitzchok. So what does he do? Uncle Yaakov sells him a "Lomdishe Shtickel Toirah." If you take my money then it is as if I am dead. This way you can both do your Kibbud Av and not murder. Gevaldik!!! Eliphaz takes his loot and goes home.

Rav Chaim Shmuelevitz says this warped thinking can only come from someone whose Neshama is a chaotic mix of good and evil. What happened to the Halacha that if your father tells you to murder you are not obligated to listen? That one somehow slipped his mind. With all his years of learning Eliphaz proved that he was still the son of Eisav.

The gemara Shabbos (81a) says that Torah is like a powerful drug that can either bring life or death. Learning is no guarantee that you will have sterling character. It depends why you learn, how you learn, and what attitude you have towards your learning. In this case the chaotic mind of Eliphaz that contained both Toras Yitzchok and Maasei Eisav bore the greatest enemy of the Jewish nation Amalek.

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