Imrei Shefer - Parshas Vayeitzei

Why does the Torah repeat that Ya’akov left home when we were already told this at the end of last week’s parsha?

(28,10) “And Ya’akov went out from Be’er Sheva and went to Haran.”

Rashi explains that the reason why the Torah mentions that Ya’akov left Be’er Sheva is to teach us that when a Tzaddik leaves a place it makes an impression. Because whilst he is in the city, he is the city’s magnificence, its splendour and its grandeur, but when he leaves, these qualities leave with him.

My sharp son, Chaim Yehuda, asked why in the previous parsha it only mentions to where he was going - that he went to Padan Aram, but here it also mentions from where he left - that he went out from Be'er Sheva and he went to Haran? Why did the Torah not teach the above idea a few posukim earlier?

We can answer this by first understanding Rashi, who explains why our parsha repeats that he left home, which has already been mentioned in posuk 5. Rashi writes that because the narrative was interrupted with the paragraph about Eisav, where it wrote that Eisav saw that Yitzchok blessed Ya’akov etc., therefore when the Torah finished relating this and returned to the previous narrative, because of the interruption it repeated that he left home.

But this itself raises a difficulty - why indeed did the Torah interrupt with this paragraph? Rashi did in fact take note of this in the previous parsha, but this difficulty can also be explained according to the gemora in Megillah 17b, that the reason why the berachah of “And for the slanderers” was placed in the Shemoneh Esrei before the berachah of “Upon the tzaddikim”, is because of the posuk in Tehillim 75:11 which says “And all the horns (glory) of the wicked I will cut down, (and then) the horns (glory) of the righteous will be raised up”. It is clear from this that as long as the glory of the wicked is not cut down it is impossible to raise up the glory of the righteous.

Similarly, Chazal write in the Midrash on parshas Toldos about a certain heretic who asked: When will Mashiach come? The Rabbi answered: When darkness covers these people (heretics) as it is written in Yeshayohu 60:2 “For behold darkness will cover the land and thick clouds will cover the nations, but upon you will shine Hashem, and His glory will be seen upon you”. It is again clear from this that the glory of Hashem will be seen on the tzaddikim only when darkness will cover the wicked.

Now, the reason why when a Tzaddik is in the city he is its magnificence, its splendour and its grandeur is because the Divine Presence rests upon him, and the light of Hashem glows upon him. Therefore, from his light all the city glows. But from the gemora Megillah and the cited Midrash we see that this is true only when the wicked are removed from the place. Only then is the glory of the Tzaddik revealed. But when the wicked are still in the place, then the glory of the Tzaddik is suppressed, and we cannot say that the Tzaddik is the city’s splendour, and it follows that when he leaves we cannot say that the city's splendour has also left. Here also, before Eisav left his father and was still present in the city, the glory of Ya’akov was suppressed. But when Eisav went out from there, then Ya’akov was the city’s splendour, and when he left, it left with him.

Therefore, before the Torah mentions Eisav’s departure, it would have been superfluous to mention that Ya’akov went out, since there is nothing to be learned from mentioning this fact. Therefore, it says only that he went to Padan Aram. But afterwards, when the Torah has related that Eisav had gone from there and only Ya’akov remained and so the glory of Ya’akov was raised up, now the Torah can say “and Ya’akov went out” to teach us that the departure of a Tzaddik from a city makes an impression.

Why does it say that Ya’akov went out from Be’er Sheva when he lived in Chevron?

(28,10) “And Ya’akov went out from Be’er Sheva and went to Haran.”

The Midrash on this posuk writes that Rav Pinchos in the name of Rav Huna Bar Poppa said: “Then you will walk on your way securely, and your foot will not stumble. When you lie down you will not fear; you will lie down and your sleep will be pleasant.” (Proverbs 3:23) - “Then you will walk on your way securely” - this is Ya’akov as it is written “And Ya’akov went out”. “When you lie down you will not fear” - from Eisav and Lavan. “you will lie down and your sleep will be pleasant” - in that place.

It seems that the Midrash is coming to answer a difficulty with our posuk “And Ya’akov went out from Be’er Sheva”, because Yitzchok did not live in Be’er Sheva - he lived in Chevron. Another difficulty, which I mentioned earlier, is that the Torah already mentioned that Ya’akov left, so why does the Torah repeat that he went out? Also, the expression “he went out” implies that he went of his own accord, yet it says in Hoshea 12:13 “And Ya’akov fled to the field of Aram”. Finally, it writes “and he went to Haran”, yet immediately afterwards it relates what happened on the way, so why are we told that he was already in Haran?

To answer all this we can explain as follows: his initial intention in going to Be’er Sheva was in fear, to flee from Eisav. But from Be’er Sheva onwards his fear left him, and he now went of his own volition until Haran. Thus it says that Ya’akov went out - not fleeing - from Be’er Sheva, and he went to Haran. Then the Torah begins to explain why he no longer was afraid, which was because of what happened to him on the way: “And he encountered the place and he stayed overnight there, because the sun had set”. The narrative continues that Hashem promised him that “I am with you and I will guard you wherever you go”. Therefore, when he heard this from the mouth of Hashem, the fear left his heart, and he went with a calm, confident heart. And the place where this happened was Be’er Sheva.

This is the intention of the Midrash, to explain the posukim as we have explained which answers all our difficulties - “Then you will walk on your way securely” - this is Ya’akov as it is written “And Ya’akov went out”, because this phrase implies that Ya’akov went confidently. “When you lie down you will not fear” - from Eisav and Lavan, because “you will lie down and your sleep will be pleasant” - in that place, in Be’er Sheva. And because of what happened there he continued his journey without fear, fully confident in Hashem’s promise.

Why did Hashem appear to Ya’akov in a dream, and not while he was awake?

(28,16) “And Ya’akov woke up from his sleep and said: Indeed, Hashem is in this place, and I did not know. And he was afraid and said: How awesome is this place. This is none other than the house of G-d, and this is the gateway of heaven.”

There are many questions that we can ask here, but we will address just one of them - initially Ya’akov said “indeed, Hashem (the four letter name of G-d) is in this place”, but afterwards he said “this is none other than the house of G-d (El-him). The first name signifies Hashem’s attribute of mercy, and the second name His attribute of justice, which means a strict measure-for-measure response to one’s deeds. Why did Ya’akov not say “the house of Hashem”, signifying mercy?

We can answer that his intention was according to that which is brought in the Midrash on this posuk “this is none other than the house of G-d” - this teaches about the destruction of the Temple. Therefore, Ya’akov used the name El-him to teach about its future destruction.

This solves another problem. It was taught in the Midrash that Hashem appears to prophets of Yisrael by day, but to the prophets of the nations by night. If so, why did Hashem appeared to Ya’akov by night, in a dream, and not by day. Ya’akov understood from this that Hashem was hinting to him about exile, which is alluded to allegorically as the nighttime, the hours of darkness. Also, during the time of exile, prophecy is only experienced in a dream. Because of this, Ya’akov knew also about the future destruction of the Beis HaMikdash, which is the precursor to the exile, and therefore hinted to this by using the name El-him, signifying punishment.

This is what Ya’akov meant at the beginning when he said “indeed Hashem is in this place, and I did not know” - Hashem did not inform him whilst he was still awake, only now, in a dream. This caused Ya’akov to fear - “and he was afraid” - perhaps he had fallen from his high spiritual level, and that is why he did not receive his prophecy like the prophets of Yisrael, rather like the prophets of the nations. But he immediately consoled himself, saying “how awesome is this place” - this place is to be greatly feared, because I was not informed whilst awake, but this is not because of a deficiency in me, rather “this is none other than the house of El-him”, which is destined to be destroyed, and for this reason it came in a dream, and not due to any fault in me.

Since Hashem had already promised that He would be with Ya’akov, why did he pray that Hashem should be with him?

(28,20) “And Ya’akov uttered a vow, saying: If G-d will be with me, and guard me on this way upon which I am going, and give me bread to eat and a garment to wear…everything which You give me I will surely tithe to You.”

The different commentaries have already raised the question why Ya’akov asked “if G-d will be with me…”, since Hashem had already promised him so in posuk 15, even before Ya’akov asked. According to the opinion in the Midrash that Hashem did not promise him concerning his livelihood, we can answer that Ya’akov added a request for this here. But according to the other opinion that he had already been promised also concerning his livelihood, the question remains.

We have already mentioned that the four-letter name of Hashem signifies mercy, and that the name El-him signifies justice. And Chazal taught that part of the greatness of tzaddikim is that they are able to turn the attribute of justice into the attribute of mercy.

Now, initially the Torah says “and behold, Hashem was standing over him, and He said…behold, I am with you…” - all this was stated with Hashem’s name which signifies mercy, that is, Hashem’s mercy was aroused to protect Ya’akov. But Ya’akov, in his current request, stipulated that the attribute of justice should agree to this, meaning that he should receive Hashem’s protection not just because of Hashem's mercy, because he deserved it.

With this we can understand the conclusion of his words “and everything which You give me I will surely tithe”. Why did Ya’akov promise this particular deed in his vow. In the Midrash on parshas Ki Sisoh, it says that in general even when we do a good deed of charity we are ashamed, because our deeds are so miniscule compared to what Hashem has done for us, and so we hardly feel that we deserve any reward. The only time we can come to Hashem and even demand reward, is when we separate the tithes from our produce, as it is written in Devarim 26:12 “When you have finished tithing all the tithes of your produce…look down from Your holy dwelling, from the heavens, and bless Your people Yisrael”. We see from this that through the giving of tithes we can demand reward forcefully and justly.

Thus, Ya’akov requested that not because of mercy alone should Hashem do good with him, but even Hashem’s attribute of justice should agree, and this would be achieved by his giving tithes which would result in his justly deserving Hashem’s goodness.

What special treatment did Ya’akov request from Hashem?

(28,20) “And Ya’akov uttered a vow, saying: If G-d will be with me, and guard me on this way upon which I am going, and give me bread to eat and a garment to wear…everything which You give me I will surely tithe to You.”

Alternatively, the intention of the posuk can be understood from the gemora Berachos 35b, which brings is a dispute between Rabbi Yishmael and Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai concerning what the Torah teaches is the proper approach to the balance between learning Torah and earning a livelihood. Rabbi Yishmael learns that one should do both, but Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai learns that one should only be involved in learning Torah. However, this is only true if he is faithfully serving Hashem, but if not, then he must also be involved in earning a livelihood. The gemora concludes that many did as R. Shimon taught and were not successful, and many did as R. Yishmael taught and were successful. We see from here that a person should balance learning and earning.

But Ya’akov requested that Hashem act differently with him. And so, although Hashem had promised him in posuk 15 “I will not forsake you”, which implies that He will not forsake him completely, but rather He will assist him once he himself makes some effort for his livelihood, Ya’akov requested “if G-d will be with me…and give me bread to eat and a garment to wear”. That is, Hashem Himself, so to speak, should give him without any effort on Ya’akov’s part.

Ya’akov continued, “then this stone, which I have placed as a monument, shall be a house of God, and everything that You give me, I will surely tithe to You”. This last posuk is the justification for his request. Because granted if his request for a livelihood was for his personal benefit, then Hashem would not want to give him unless he concerned himself with his livelihood and made some effort in that area, in which case Hashem would complete his efforts. But if a person intends in his request for his needs only for the honour of Hashem, then He will do everything, even with any effort from the one who asks.

This is what Ya’akov was saying, “…and give me bread to eat and a garment to wear” that He alone will give me, and I will make no effort, since I intend that “everything that You give me, I will surely tithe to You”, for You. For Your honour I intend, and therefore it is fitting that You do everything for me, even though I do nothing.

What does the posuk mean, that Ya’akov also loved Rochel more than Leah?

(29,30) “And he came also to Rochel, and he also loved Rochel more than Leah.”

When Lavan tricked Ya’akov by switching Leah for Rochel at the wedding, not only did Rochel remain silent about the switch, but she even gave to Leah the secret signs that Ya’akov had given her to prevent such a trick, so that Leah would not suffer any embarrassment on the wedding night. It was therefore only natural that Leah would love Rochel tremendously for her actions. And conversely, it would have been natural for Ya’akov not to love Rochel, since she had wronged him in giving over the signs, thereby allowing Leah to deceive him.

Therefore, the posuk relates that on the contrary, even though Rochel wronged Ya’akov through her actions, even so, “he also loved Rochel more than Leah”, that is, not only did Leah love Rochel, but “he also loved Rochel” even “more than Leah” loved her.

How did Leah help to increase Ya’akov’s love for Rochel?

(29,30) “And he came also to Rochel, and he also loved Rochel from (more than) Leah.”

Another way to explain this posuk, and in particular to explain the seemingly superfluous word "also" in the phrase “and he also loved Rochel”, is that initially Ya’akov loved Rochel for herself, for her beauty. But when he married Leah because of Lavan’s trickery, and Rochel had known about it and kept quiet allowing Leah to trick Ya’akov, this was a very big thing, and through this Ya’akov recognised Rochel’s good deeds. And thus through Leah he loved Rochel even more.

This then is the explanation of the posuk, that apart from the love that he had for Rochel for herself, “he also loved Rochel from Leah”. That is, he also loved Rochel because of Leah's tricking him, which caused him to increase his love for Rochel.

What is the connection between Reuven bringing the dudaim to his mother, and his offspring requesting the land on the other side of the Jordan?

(30,14) “And Reuven went during the days of the wheat harvest and found dudaim in the field and brought them to Leah, his mother.”

The Midrash says that this posuk can be explained by the posuk in Proverbs 22:6 “Train a child according to his way; even when he grows old he will not turn away from it”, and the posuk in Bamidbar 32;5 “let this land be given to your servants”, (which was said by tribes of Reuven and Gad, concerning the land on the other side of the Jordan river). How is the Midrash connecting these two posukim, and connecting both of them to our posuk?

The Children of Yisrael took two portions of land: the land of Yisrael itself, and the land on the other side of the Jordan. The difference between them is that the former they took in the merit of the Patriarchs, as it states in numerous places “the land which I swore to Avrohom”, and the latter in the merit of the Matriarchs. Therefore, the Jordan river makes a separation between the two, to make us aware of this difference.

Now, the posuk says that Reuven brought the dudaim to his mother, and yet the halachah is that if a child who still relies on the support of his father finds a lost article (one which is allowed to be kept), it belongs to the father, and therefore Reuven should have brought them to Ya’akov, and not to Leah. However, Ya’akov had not accustomed Reuven to be attached to him, rather he allowed him to be attached to his mother. This resulted in him being not attached to the inheritance of Ya’akov, his father, but rather the portion of his mother, and that’s why he requested “let this land be given to your servants”.

This is the meaning of the Midrash - our posuk shows that Reuven had been trained as a child to be more attached to his mother, and this trait was transmitted to his offspring and influenced their choice of land.

Why was Rochel punished with having to remain childless for so long?

(30,14) “And Reuven went during the days of the wheat harvest and found dudaim in the field and brought them to Leah, his mother.”

The Midrash comments here from the posuk in Shmuel Ⅰ 2:5 “Those who were satiated have hired themselves out for bread, while the hungry have refrained. While the barren woman has born seven, the one of many children has been bereaved. Hashem causes death and causes life.” “Those who were satiated” - this is Leah, who was satiated with children and hired herself out, “while the hungry have refrained” - this is Rochel, who was hungry for children and refrained. “While the main one has born seven” - this is Leah, who was the main one of the house, “the one of many children has been bereaved” - this is Rochel, who was fitting to have the majority of the children but this was taken away from her. Who did all this? - “Hashem causes death and causes life”.

Behold, this Midrash is a puzzle from beginning to end. What point is the Midrash making - everything it says is explicit in the Torah, and what is there to be learned from the posuk in Shmuel. Also, that which it says that Leah was the main one (עיקרה) of the house is not understood at all, and some of the commentaries, having a hard time with this Midrash, changed the text to עקרה - the barren one, but even this does not fit well. Also, it mentions that Rochel was fitting to have the majority of the children, if so, who took them away, and why did she not have them?

To answer all this first we need to explain posuk 29:31 “And Hashem saw that Leah was hated, so He opened her womb; but Rochel was barren.” Now, if Rochel was born barren, then the order of the posuk should have been "Rochel was barren, and Leah, when Hashem saw that she was hated, He opened her womb". Or "Rochel and Leah were barren, and Hashem saw that Leah was hated…". Because of this problem, it seems that Rochel was born with the ability to have children, and Leah was born barren.

This fits with the Midrash which says: This what people are saying: These are the rules - the oldest daughter (Leah) is destined for the oldest son (Eisav), and the youngest daughter (Rochel) for the youngest son (Ya’akov). And because Hashem was concerned that since there is freewill, Lavan might give Leah to Eisav like people were saying, (or perhaps it was actually Hashem’s decree that Leah should marry Eisav, but through her prayers she changed the decree), and because Leah was a tzaddekess, and should not have to bear wicked children from Eisav, therefore Hashem created her barren. Rochel, however, being destined for Ya’akov, was created ready for giving birth to the twelve tribes or the majority of them.

However, afterwards Rochel was punished and matters were switched around. The reason for this, as I have already mentioned above, was because she gave the secret signs to Leah, thereby causing Ya’akov to err and think that she was Rochel. For this she was punished. Because although we see from this the great righteousness and modesty of Rochel, that she was not jealous of her sister and allowed her to switch places with her, and for this she definitely received a great reward, nevertheless, despite the meritoriousness of this deed it was also a transgression to allow here sister to deceive Ya’akov and to cause him distress, and for this she deserved to be punished.

We can understand this better from the following analogy: if we want to give a person lots of gold and silver, or to award him some greatness, and he tells us to give it to someone else, certainly we would consider that he has done a great deed, since the matter is a voluntary one. But if we would honour him with a great mitzvah, and such a mitzvah does not come along everyday, and it’s possible that if he does not do it now he will never have another opportunity, then certainly in this case he should not honour somebody else with this mitzvah, and if he does so, it would demonstrate that this mitzvah is not dear to him.

Here too, since Rochel, in exchange for the dudaim, allowed Leah to be with Ya’akov that night, she demeaned being together with that Tzaddik, and as a result she did not merit being buried together with him in the cave of Machpelah, as it says in the Midrash. This shows that Rochel did not consider being together with Ya’akov a mitzvah, rather she thought it to be a voluntary matter, a bodily benefit. She therefore sold it for something of very small value (the dudaim), and was punished by losing the merit of being buried with him.

From this we see that also the first time she allowed Leah to switch places with her, giving her the signs, was for this same reason, that she did not consider marriage to Ya’akov a mitzvah, only a voluntary matter. In truth, she erred greatly in this - marrying a Tzaddik is considered a very great mitzvah, and should not be given to someone else no matter what, and yet Rochel did so, revealing that it was not considered very important to her, and for this she was punished.

Leah, on the other hand, thought the opposite; that being with Ya’akov was a very great mitzvah. Therefore, even though she knew from the beginning that by deceiving Ya’akov into thinking that she was Rochel he would certainly hate her and be very angry with her, nevertheless, she accepted all this upon herself, since she considered marriage to Ya’akov the greatest of mitzvahs, even to the point that it was worthwhile to be hated by Ya’akov rather than be loved by a different man.

Therefore, even though in the beginning Leah was barren and Rochel was not, nevertheless, later things were changed around - Rochel was made barren as a punishment, and Leah was given the ability to bear children.

This is the explanation of the posuk “And Hashem saw that Leah was hated” - that marrying Ya’akov was so important in her eyes that she accepted upon herself to be hated , and therefore - “and He opened her womb”, and Rochel, who was going to have children, was made barren.

Another result of Rochel’s error, was that when Hashem eventually gave her children, it was only after Leah already had seven children, and this is in accordance with Chazal’s teachimg to always do a mitzvah at the earliest opportunity. We see that because the oldest daughter of Lot preceded her sister by one night, so too her offspring preceded the offspring of her sister in becoming the ancestor of King David. Here too, Leah, who was married to Ya’akov seven days before Rochel, merited to have seven children before Rochel - one child for each day, and conversely Rochel was punished by being barren until her sister had those seven children.

Thus the intent of the Midrash is to teach us why Rochel was barren. That is, we learn from our posuk that by Rochel’s selling her right to be with Ya’akov for a small amount, the dudaim, she demonstrated that being with Ya’akov was not dear to her, and this shows retroactively that her giving the signs to Leah and allowing her to be in her place, was because she did not consider marriage to Ya’akov to be a mitzvah, and for this she was punished.

This is what the Midrash is bringing from the posuk in Shmuel: we see that being with Ya’akov was very dear to Leah, because she was “satiated” with children and even so “hired herself out for bread”, alluding to her exchanging the dudaim for the right to be with Ya’akov (bread is used often for such an allusion), even though she already had four children. Whereas Rochel, who was “hungry” for children, even so, she “refrained” from being with Ya’akov. From this we can understand that even though Leah was not initially supposed to be the main one, the principal wife of Ya’akov, and was in fact destined for Eisav and was consequently created barren, and Rochel was fitting to be the mother of the majority of the children, afterwards, through Rochel’s actions, things were changed around, even to the degree that until Leah had seven children the one who was intended to have many children was “bereaved”, because she delayed her marriage to Ya’akov by seven days.

With this we can understand posuk 30:1 “And Rochel saw that she had not borne children to Ya’akov, and Rochel envied her sister, and said to Ya’akov: give me children, and if not, I am dead.” The phrase “to Ya’akov” is seemingly superfluous. Also, how could the bad character trait of jealousy be appropriate for Rochel the tzaddekess? Also problematic is her demand of Ya’akov to give her children - did she not know that Ya’akov was not G-d, and that it was not in his hands to give her children?

But the meaning of this posuk is that Rochel realised she was being punished for allowing her sister to switch places with her, but she did not know that it was because she had demeaned the importance of being with Ya’akov, but rather she thought that her punishment was due to causing him distress. Therefore, she thought, if Ya’akov would forgive her this would free her from her punishment, and she thought that Ya’akov was unwilling to forgive her.

This then is the explanation of this posuk: “And Rochel saw that she had not borne children to Ya’akov”, that is, the reason she had no children was due to Ya’akov, through him she was being punished because of the distress she had caused him. Therefore, “Rochel envied her sister” - she saw that her lack of jealousy of her sister in the beginning had brought her to be deserving of punishment. (The type of jealousy being described here is a good character trait, since this jealousy is being used to make herself do a good deed). She now started to be jealous of allowing her sister to precede her in marrying Ya’akov, and thereby causing him distress, and she said to him “give me children”, since she thought it was within his power, since he could forgive her and thereby remove her punishment of being barren. But Ya’akov answered her “am I in place of G-d?” - informing her that she had not been punished because of any distress she had caused him, but rather for demeaning the importance of being with a Tzaddik, and this was not an affront against him and therefore the solution of the matter did not lie with him.

Why did Leah name this son Yissachar?

(30,18) “And Leah said: G-d has given my reward…and she named him Yissachar.”

We can explain why she called him Yissachar according to the teaching of Chazal that in the future Hashem will give 310 worlds as an inheritance to every Tzaddik. As it says in Mishlei 8:21 “To give an inheritance to those who love me, there is (יש)”. From here it is clear that they learned from the gematria of the word יש the matter of the 310 worlds.

Now, I have already discussed in parshas Bereishis that the commentaries asked that in fact each Tzaddik deserves 620 worlds, corresponding to the 613 mitzvos of the Torah and the 7 mitzvos of the Rabbis. But since they must give half to their wives, ;there remains only 310.

But now it seems that we can explain slightly differently, and say that those tzaddikim who are not supported by others, but rather they benefit only from the work of their hands, they take their complete reward of 620 worlds. But since there are tzaddikim who benefit from others, and therefore they must give half of their reward to those who support them, therefore there remains only 310 worlds. Thus, Chazal are teaching that in the future Hashem will give as an inheritance to every Tzaddik at least 310 worlds, and not less than this amount. But there are tzaddikim who will inherit 620 worlds, and that is those who do not benefit from others.

So now behold, each of the tribes who benefited only from the work of their hands will have 620 worlds. But Yissachar, Leah saw with the Divine Spirit would make a partnership with Zevulun, as it says in Devarim 33:18 “Rejoice Zevulun in your going out, and Yissachar in your tents”. Therefore, to Yissachar there will be only 310 worlds, because the second half belongs to Zevulun, who supported them. And therefore she called him Yissachar - יש שכר, which means a 310 (world) reward.

What did Hashem remember about Rochel which made Him hearken to her voice?

(30,22) “And G-d remembered Rochel, and G-d hearkened to her and he opened her womb.”

The Midrash here brings, with no elaboration, a posuk from Tehillim 98:7 “He has remembered His kindness and His faithfulness to the House of Yisrael”, followed by our posuk, “And G-d remembered Rochel, and He hearkened to her”. What is the meaning of the Midrash? It seems that the Midrash was bothered by the repeat expressions - “And G-d remembered Rochel, and He hearkened to her voice”, which seem to be saying almost the same thing. Therefore, the Midrash explained thus:

It is well known the teaching of Chazal, that when it comes to good deeds, Hashem judges according to what will happen in the future. Now, it says in Yirmeyohu 31:14 “A voice is heard on high, lamentation, bitter weeping, Rochel weeping for her children”, from which we see that the promise that we will be redeemed is only in the merit of Rochel’s weeping and prayers. Therefore, because of this deed that she is destined to do, she merited to give birth to Yosef. Thus our posuk is saying “And G-d remembered Rochel” - that which she will do when Yisrael will be in exile. Therefore, in this merit, “G-d hearkened to her voice”.

With this we can understand the words of the Midrash. Because the meaning of the posuk “He has remembered His kindness and faithfulness to the House of Yisrael”, is that there is a difference between Yisrael and the nations in how Hashem rewards the performance of a mitzvah. That although He does not withhold the reward of any creature, and thus rewards also the nations when they do a mitzvah, He only rewards them for what they have already done, but not for what they may do in the future. In fact, on the contrary, when it comes to bad deeds He does judge according to what they will do in the future. But with Yisrael it is the opposite, that for good he goes after the future and not for bad.

The justification for this difference is that the nations are predisposed towards sinning, and not predisposed towards doing good. Therefore they have the presumption that they will do evil and not do good. But with Yisrael it is the opposite, that they are predisposed towards doing good and not evil, and so with them the presumption is that they will do good and not evil. The Maharal of Prague discussed this at length in explaining that which Chazal taught, that with Yisrael, Hashem considers a good intention like a deed, but with the nations it is the opposite.

Now, that which Hashem pays a reward for good deeds is called kindness, as it says in Tehillim 62:13 “and to you Hashem is kindness, for You pay a man according to his deeds”. And that which He judges according to future good deeds is called faith, because He has faith that a person is going to do this or that good deed, and He gives him his reward already from before. Therefore, by the nations there is no kindness and faithfulness together, because he pays them reward only for the past but not for the future. On the contrary, His faith in them relates only to their bad deeds that they may do in the future. But with Yisrael it says “He remembered His kindness and His faithfulness to the House of Yisrael” - kindness in paying for the good which they have done, and also faith in a person that he will do a certain good deed, and to advance to him a reward.

Now the words of the Midrash are understood - “He remembered His kindness and his faithfulness to the House of Yisrael”, from which it is clear that with Yisrael He goes after the future for good deeds, Therefore, this is what our posuk is saying “G-d remembered Rochel” that which she is destined to do later on, and therefore “G-d hearkened to her voice”, now.

What did Ya’akov conceal from Lavan?

(31,20) “And Ya’akov deceived Lavan the Aramean by not telling him that he was fleeing.”

How would it have been possible for Ya’akov to tell Lavan that he was fleeing - if he told him then it would not be called fleeing, it would be called going! The Targum Onkelos seems to have noticed this problem and therefore wrote in his translation "that he was going", but nevertheless the posuk clearly says fleeing.

But it seems to me that the posuk is not referring to Ya’akov’s fleeing from Lavan, but rather to his fleeing from his home. Because someone who flees from home to a place far away due to some fear, even if he dwells there many years it is no proof that he intends to stay there since his reason for staying there is only because the thing he fears still exists, but when it no longer exists he intends to return home. But if he is not fleeing from anything and he stays in the new place for some time, it is clear that he intends to live there permanently.

Therefore, if Ya’akov had told Lavan that he had fled from Eisav then Lavan would have been vigilant to stop him from fleeing, lest he became aware that he no longer has anything to fear from Eisav and so return home. As indeed Chazal taught, that when Yosef the nemesis of Eisav was born, that was when Ya’akov decided to return home because he no longer feared Eisav. But because Ya’akov did not tell Lavan that he had fled from Eisav, and Lavan saw that he was staying with him a long time he assumed that he had no intention of returning home, and so he no longer guarded him from fleeing.

This what the posuk is saying: “And Ya’akov deceived Lavan the Aramean by not telling him that he was fleeing” from Eisav, but instead told him that he had come there to take a wife.

Alternatively, if Lavan had been aware that Ya’akov had tricked Eisav and fled, he would have known that Ya’akov was accustomed to being devious and fleeing, and thus Lavan would have been watchful lest he also trick him and flee. But since Ya’akov did not tell him this he judged Ya’akov by his naive appearance and assumed that he was not able to be devious.Therefore Lavan was not careful and so Ya’akov managed to deceive him.

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