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עשה תורתך קבע – אמור מעט ועשה הרבה

VaYetze – You can run but you can’t hide

Posted by rabbiart on November 23, 2012

Our long-time Gabbai pointed out this morning that the parshah opens and closes with Yakov on the run.  At the beginning, he is running from his brother.  Perhaps it is more accurate to say that he is running from what he did to his brother.  At the end, he is running from his father-in-law.  As Joe Louis said about Billy Conn “He can run but he can’t hide”.

Yakov dreams big, but he acts in small ways.  He dreams of HaShem giving him land and blessing through him all the families of the earth. He proclaims that the place where had rested in the gateway to heaven and names it Beth-El, the House of G-d. But he makes his pledge conditional on HaShem giving him food and clothing. And only if he is returned safely to his father’s house, will he accept HaShem as his G-d.

Yakov the trickster is then tricked mightily by his brother-in-law. He cries out “did I not work for you on account of Rachel? Why then have you tricked me?”.  Somewhere at this moment his brother Esav must have been laughing mightily.

Yakov works under Lavan.  He prospers, fathering sons with wives and handmaidens both, except for the barrenness of his beloved Rachel.  He grows so wealthy that he is tremendously resented.

Again he flees, but wherever he goes, there he is. The parshah ends with a soap-opera like cliffhanger, but we know that he will soon wrestle with a strange man/angel/G-d and never be the same.

Dreams of the night are big and bold and full of visions and wonder.  Typically they fade in the early morning light and are soon forgotten. The initial relationship of Lavan and Yakov is close, warm and familiar. It begins with a hug and a kiss. It ends with thievery,false accusations, and self-justification.

The lesson of this parshah is difficult to discern and hard to imagine. Bad behavior abounds. Although the second more famous dream does not occur until the following Shabbes, Yakov’s sojourn away from home is bracketed with dreams of the divine presence.  In between the dreams we read of all sorts of typical human scheming.  Yakov’s twenty years under his brother-in-law is a Torah story of who we are.  The dreams are stories of who we ought to be.  The Torah challenges us to remember our dreams at night, and live up to them in the light of the day.

Rabbi Art Gould


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