After rightfully taking the blessings of Esav, Yaakov departed from Be'er Sheva and went to Charan, the home of his mother's family. His first destination was the yeshiva of Shem and Aber (Megilla 16b/17a), where he went on to spend 14 years learning Torah in order to strengthen his faith and increase his knowledge in Torah.
Spending time in Yeshiva in general is a place not just to study, but to work obabylon, on one’s characteristics, development, thought of mind and people’s skills, which is usually very beneficial when going out into the working world or for marriage.
He then resumed his journey and arrived at Mount Moriah, the area where Noach and Adam offered Sacrifices, the place where his father Yitzchak was brought as an offering, and also the future site of the Temple. He went there initially to pray the Arvit (Evening) prayers (Rashi), however he then slept there for the night and immediately had a prophetic dream of angels going up and down a ladder between Heaven and earth (Bereishit 28:12). G-d promised him the Land of Israel, that he would be the founder of a great nation (from the twelve tribes), and that he will have Divine protection.
Also the prophetic dream was a sign of the four future exiles Israel would later on endure during the future, in punishment for not keeping to the commandments, they were, the Babylonian Exile, where Nebuchadnezzar destroyed the First Temple and the Jews left for Babylon (The 70 year exile was symbolized by the angel walking up the ladder 70 steps before falling), the second exile took place during the Persian/ Median era, where Haman attempted to destroy the Jewish Nation, this lasted 52 years (in this case the angel went up 52 steps before falling); the third exile lasted 130 years, known as the Greek Exile, where Ptolomy and Antiochus attempted to forcefully assimilate the Jewish people in to secular culture (130 steps were walked by the angel before falling); the fourth exile took place during the end of the second Temple era, know as the Roman Exile, which we are still facing today, this was in fact symbolized by the angel going up the ladder continuously without descending.
Yaakov then woke up and vowed to build an altar there and tithe all that he would receive when he stayed in Lavan’s territory (Bereishit 28:22).
Then he traveled to Charan and met his cousin Rachel at the well. He arranged with her father, Lavan, to work seven years for her hand in marriage, however Lavan tricked Yaakov, instead giving Rachel’s older sister, Leah (Megillah 13b Rashi/ Bereishit 29:22-25).
Yaakov then committed himself to work another seven years in order to also marry Rachel. Lavan realized that all his produce was flourishing on account of Yaakov working for him, so he tricked the entire marriage in order to have him employed for a much longer duration.
Leah then gave birth to four sons: Reuven, Shimon, Levi and Yehuda, making up the first four Tribes of Israel (Bereishit 29:31-35). Yehuda would later be given the crown of Kingship, and the Davidic dynasty would be traced back from him. In fact, Leah gave birth almost immediately, unlike Rachel, her sister, who would have to wait many years before giving birth. Yaakov clearly 'loved' Rachel more than Leah (Bereishit 29:30), and as Hashem helps the lass favored, he opened up Leah's womb first, to give birth to the first Tribes, so that Yaakov's love for Leah would increase.
Rachel at this point was still barren, and in an attempt to give Yaakov children, she gave her handmaiden Bilhah to Yaakov as a wife (Just like Sara gave Hagar to Avraham as a wife a few weeks back in Lech Lecha (Bereishit 16:3)). Bilhah gave birth to Dan and Naftali, two tribes whom great leaders would come from later on (Bereishit 30:1-8), Shimshon and Devorah respectively.
Leah, following the footsteps of Rachel gave Yaakov her handmaiden Zilpah (Bereishit 30:9-13), who gave birth to Gad and Asher, the prior would later on be famed for being warriors of Hashem and the latter’s daughters would be famed for marrying Kohen Gadolim. Leah then gave birth to Yissachar and Zevulun (Bereishit 30:17-21), famed for the learn and work partnership throughout Jewish history and then she gave birth to a daughter, Deena. In fact, Leah named her Deena, since she purposely passed judgment on herself, to not give birth to another boy, in order that her sister, Rachel, could give birth to the last of the Tribes remaining, so she would have a proper share of the Tribal formation (Berachot 60a Rashi).
Hashem then finally blessed Rachel with a son, Yosef. Immediately after giving birth to Yosef (Bereishit 30:22-24), Yaakov decided to leave Lavan, as he knew Yosef‘s high level of purity is high enough to destroy the impurity of Esav when the two were to encounter each other in next weeks reading, however Lavan, aware of the wealth Yaakov made for him, was reluctant to let him go, and concluded a contract of employment with him.
Lavan tried to trick Yaakov throughout his twenty years of employment; he even changed his wages ‘100’ times (Bereishit Rabba 71:2)! However Yaakov still became extremely wealthy.
Six years later, Yaakov, aware that Lavan had become immensely resentful of his wealth, ran away with his family. Lavan pursued them, however he was warned by G-d not to harm them or to even do good to him (Bereishit 31:24), since usually whatever good a wicked man does or say to the righteous, does not turn out good (Yevamot 103). Yaakov and Lavan agreed to a covenant not to harm each others descendants (Lavan’s descendant, Bilam would later on break the treaty as we will learn later on in Parshat Balak) and Lavan returned home and lost all his wealth as the righteous Yaakov left his home, which shows that a man’s produce may be blessed due to the presence of a righteous individual.
The Haftorah for this weeks reading is taken from the Book of Hosea, chapters 12, 13 and 14.
This weeks Dvar Torah is dedicated to all the Israeli's who are under attack with all the rockets being poured on them, please all pray for the safety of the land of Israel and it's inhabitants!
One of the greatest strength for the Jews to have is the strength of unity, when the Jews are united together, it has the tremendous power.
Let first take a look at comparing the two time periods of the First and the Second Temple. We find that the transgressions of the Jews, as a nation, which resulted in the destruction of the Temple were attributed to Forbidden relations, murder and idolworship (Yoma 9b), these were all Man against G-d transgressions. However the Second Temple was destroyed due to the transgression of Baseless Hatred, the lack of unity amongst the Jews in Israel (Yoma 9b)! If we look further into this, we know that the Kohen Gadol, represented the Jewish nation as a whole, each year he would go into the holy of holies on Yom Kippur to carry out a 'Ketoret' service, if he would come out alive from the room, it was a sign that Hashem was happy with the nation as a whole. We know that the First Temple stood for 410 years, whereas the Second Temple stood for 420 years. Furthermore the Talmud relates that during the First Temple, there were only 18 Kohen Gadolim, each Kohen Gadol on average staying 22 years in his position, which was a good sign of Hashem's satisfaction among the people despite there sin's. However during the Second Temple era, in the 420 years that the Temple stood, there was 300 Kohen Gadolim (Yoma 9a)!! each Kohen Gadol barely lasted the year, obviously as a nation, Hashem was not satisfied with the Jewish people, what was the sin? Hatred amongst each other, a lack of Unity!! This is one of the many proofs that G-d does not like Unity.
If we compare the era of the two kings, the Rightous King David and King Achav, who was considered wicked by many, we see an interesting observation. The generation of the wicked King Achav used to be win tremendously in war despite the fact that Idolatry was at high levels in the land, while in the generation of King David they used to go out to war and suffer defeats, despite his great levels of reightousness (Devarim Rabba 5:6). The Rabbi's teach us, that despite during Achav's tenure as King there was high levels of Idol Worship taking place, however they had one huge merit, the people were united together. In King David's time, despite the great levels of Torah, there was a lot of slander and baseless hatred among the Jews, which resulted in their downfull.
In Parashat Noach, we learned of two different time periods, the Generation of the flood and the generation of Dispersion. The flood killed all of humanity, except for Noach and his family, what was the transgression? there was rampant robbery amongs each other, no one respecting another, there was a lack of unity (Bereishit 7:22). However the sin of the Generation of dispersion, the people who attemoted to build the Tower of Bavel (Bereishit 11:1), did it in order to fight G-d, however despite this terrible sin, the people worked together as a unit. There high levels of unity led to the punishment for this sin seeming to be a lot more leniant than that of the flood, they were dispersed to different regions, acquiring different languages. Most of the people of that generation survived, despite G-d killing some groups of people, but as whole many of the genration were spared death (Sanhedrin 109).
These are just 3 proofs from the Talmud to how great it is to be united together, to love each other. A verse in parashat Kedoshim states, 'You shall love your fellow as yourself, I am G-d (Vayikra 19:18).” The Talmud further supports this idea, as when the great sage, Hillel, needed to summarize the whole Torah in few words to a potential Jewish convert he stated, “What is hateful to yourself, do not do to your friend – all the rest [of the Torah] is commentary”