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The Divine Plan

This parasha covers the length of time that Yaakov spent in exile from his home in Canaan. It opens with his awakening to the realization that his journey is more than just a matter of personal survival: it is a part of a divine plan. This awareness is expressed in dream form by a ladder reaching from the earth up to heaven with angels ascending and descending. When Yaakov awakes from his dream he proclaims: God was in this place and I, I did not know it.

He continues on his journey and arrives in Harran where he immediately falls in love with Rachel. [Note: Rachel means ewe] Yaakov then labors for many years for the right to take Rachel, the younger sister, as his bride. Just when he thinks he is about to know the rewards of his labor Leah, the older sister, is switched for Rachel and Yaakov must work for seven more years to take Rachel for his wife.

Lets look at the story of Yaakov and his wives and children leaving the home of Lavan. This abrupt ending to Yaakov's exile is rich with literary artistry. We are treated to hints, reflections and commentary all by way of carefully crafted word plays. For example, chapter 31:10-13 alludes to the story of the Akedah -attempted sacrifice of Yitzhak. Verse ten speaks of animals in heat, specifically he-goats. This brings to mind the ram that was substituted for Yitzhak on the altar. The reference to it being "heat" evokes the conflict between Abraham's willingness to sacrifice Yitzhak and his promise from God of many offspring. Just in case we doubt the connection, or have missed it, the text has Yaakov answer a messenger from God with the words "here I am", the same words Abraham used to announce his readiness to honor God's request.

Three more examples: Verses 19 and 20 play with the word "stole" and Lavan. First the Torah tells us that Rachel "stole" a terafim (some kind of idol) from her father. The next verse says that Yaakov "stole" Lavan's wits. Of course, Yaakov "stole" his brother's blessing.

Lavan takes three days to decide (or figure out) to pursue Yaakov. This hints at the request of Moses to let the Israelites journey for three days into the desert in order to worship God.

Finally, in case we weren't sure how Yitzhak felt as his father nearly slaughtered him verses 42 and 53 tell us: "Had not the God of my father, the God of Abraham and the Terror of Yitzhak been there...." And Yaakov swore by his the Terror of his father Yitzhak.
Topics: Divrei Torah
Type: Dvar Torah

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