Friday, November 28, 2014

Dvar Torah - Parashat Vayeitzei

This week we are privileged to read the portion Vayeitzei. We learn that Yaakov escaped from his parents home, and as our sages teach us, he detoured to the Yeshiva of Aiver to study for 14 years before traveling to Choron. He then proceeded to Choron to fulfill the command of his parents, to marry someone from their family. Yaakov meets Rochel at the well and a deal is made between Yaakov and Lovon. Lovon fooled Yaakov and gave him his other daughter Leah, instead of Rochel. Yaakov works for Lovon after marrying both Leah and Rochel and two additional women and now merited children from all. Now after many breaches of their agreement, Yaakov left Lovon's home.

Why did Yaakov make the detour to study in Yeshiva ? Why didn't he go straight to Choron ? We know that Yaakov had already been well educated. Yaakov had studied daily with his grandfather Avrohom up to age fifteen. Later, as the Torah attests he was yoshev oholim - sat in the tents of Torah study. Why did he need these additional years of study ? One explanation given is, that until now he had knowledge and practice of being an observant person amongst the righteous (Yitzchok and Rivka), now he needed some extra learning how to survive amongst the evil (Lovon). For that he needed additional fourteen years of study. There's no greater protection from the evil forces of the world than Torah study. It is both a physical and spiritual protection.

The Medrash tells us that when Yaakov ran away, Eisav sent his son Elifaz, to chase after Yaakov and kill him. The Medrash teaches us, that when he reached Yaakov he began crying, and he told Yaakov that he has a dilemma. On the one hand he knows he's not allowed to kill Yaakov on the other hand, his father commanded him to murder Yaakov, what should he do ? Yaakov said to him take everything I have and I will be left poor and a poor man is like deceased. You can now go back and tell your father that Yaakov is dead. Elifaz accepted and took all Yaakov's belongings and so Yaakov was left with only a stick. There's a dispute whether one should first learn Torah before marriage because it is difficult to carry the burden of supporting a family and dedicating your entire being to Torah study or first one should get married so that he can live with purity and then study Torah. The Talmud (kidushin 31) says that it depends. In Jerusalem, people were wealthy so they first got married and then studied Torah. However in Babylon people did not have the means of support, they had to first study and then learn. Yaakov assumed that his parents command that he get married was based on the fact that he would have all the money and goods Yitzchok gave him, in which case he should get married first and then study. However now that he had lost all of his property to Elifaz / Eisav, he now had a different status, and was obligated to first study Torah.

Let us all increase our study of Torah and strengthen our commitment to observe its Mitzvohs and we will be protected from all evil forces of the world.

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