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Vayeitzei Aliyah Summary

Vayeitzei Aliyah Summary


General Overview: In this week's reading, Vayeitzei, Jacob travels to his uncle Laban. En route he stops at the Temple Mount where G‑d appears and assures him that he will return safely to the Land of Canaan. Jacob stays for twenty years in Charan before returning to Canaan. During his stay he shepherds Laban's sheep, and survives and prospers despite all his uncle's attempted deceptions. He marries Leah and Rachel, and the first eleven tribes are born.

First Aliyah: Jacob left Be'er Sheba and headed towards Charan, to his uncle Laban's home. While traveling, Jacob encountered "the place" (Mount Moriah) and since the sun had set, he lay down to sleep. In a dream he saw a ladder reaching up to heaven with angels ascending and descending its rungs. G‑d appeared and informed him that He would bequeath the entire land to his descendants, and that He would safeguard him until he returned to Canaan. Jacob awoke, and now recognizing the holiness of the location, he erected a monument to G‑d, named the location Beth El ("House of G‑d"), and vowed to tithe all his belongings when G‑d's promise of a safe return would be fulfilled.

Second Aliyah: Jacob continued on his journey, and arrived at a well located on the outskirts of Charan. Upon seeing Rachel, Laban's younger daughter, arriving with her father's sheep, Jacob single-handedly rolled off the heavy rock that sat atop the well, and gave water to the flock. Rachel told her father about the new arrival, and Laban rushed out to greet Jacob. Jacob went to Laban's home, and after spending a month, Laban offered Jacob the job of tending to his herds, and asked Jacob what he wished in terms of wages.

Third Aliyah: Laban had two daughters, the aforementioned Rachel, and her older sister Leah. Jacob loved Rachel and offered to serve Laban for seven years in exchange for her hand in marriage. Laban accepted the deal. After the seven years of service passed, Jacob asked Laban to make good on his word. Laban arranged a wedding feast, but switched daughters, giving Leah instead of Rachel. When Jacob protested, Laban offered to give Rachel too—in exchange for another seven years of service. One week later Jacob married Rachel, and began serving an additional seven years. Leah gave birth to four children – Reuben, Simon, Levi, and Judah – but Rachel remained barren. Rachel and Leah both gave their handmaids to Jacob as concubines. Rachel's maid, Bilhah, bore two children – Dan and Naftali – and Leah's maid also bore two children—Gad and Asher.

Fourth Aliyah: One spring day, Reuben picked jasmine plants from the field, and brought them to his mother. Rachel asks Leah for some of them, and Leah agreed, provided that Rachel relinquishes her turn with Jacob that night. Leah gave birth to another two sons – Issachar and Zebulun – and one daughter—Dinah. Eventually, Rachel, too, gave birth to a son, whom she named Joseph. At that point, Jacob asked Laban for permission to take his wives and children and return to Canaan. In response, Laban pointed out that his divinations revealed that his great wealth and blessings were due to Jacob's presence in his home.

Fifth Aliyah: "Specify your wages," Laban told Jacob. "And I will give it!" Jacob proposed that all the streaked and spotted sheep that would be born to Laban's sheep would constitute his payment. In return, Jacob would continue caring for Laban's flocks. Laban immediately removed all the existing spotted and streaked sheep from the herd and put them under his sons' charge—thus differentiating between the current ones, which belonged to Laban, and the to-be-born ones, that would belong to Jacob. Jacob made striped poles for the strong and robust sheep to view while they were mating. As a result, the sheep gave birth to striped offspring, and Jacob became fabulously wealthy—despite Laban's deceptive practices, and his continual changing of the terms of Jacob's pay. After an additional six years of service, G‑d commanded Jacob to return to Canaan. Jacob summoned his wives, who agreed that the time has arrived to leave.

Sixth Aliyah: Seizing an opportunity when Laban was away, Jacob took his family and belongings and slipped away. Before departing, Rachel stole one of Laban's idols. Laban pursued them. On the night before he reached them, G‑d warned Laban in a dream not to harm Jacob or his family. Laban reached Jacob on Mount Gilead and complained that he was deprived of the opportunity to bid them an appropriate farewell, and protested the theft of his idols. Jacob suggested that Laban search for his idol amongst his belongings, but Laban turned up empty-handed in his search.

Seventh Aliyah: Laban and Jacob made a peace treaty and erected a stone monument to seal the pact. Laban returned to Charan, and Jacob continued on his way. When he entered Canaan, he was greeted by a delegation of welcoming angels.

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Menachem Posner Montreal November 7, 2013

To Ryan Rashi points out, “This reflects the praise of Jacob’s children. Although it was harvest time, they did not steal anything and bring home wheat or barley. Instead, they took an ownerless plant that grows wild, about which no one would care.”

For a wonderful discussion on why he picked these plants and what it all means, I suggest that you read Spirituality vs. Leadership Reply

Ryan November 6, 2013

Reuben Significance What is the significance of Reuben picking the jasmine plants ? Feel free to elaborate. Reply

Morah Nechamah Brooklyn, NY November 4, 2013

Another point of view to consider To me, this parsha shows that what Yaakov and RIvka did in the previous parsha was not right, and that there are consequences. It is true that Yaakov gets much; he is the heir to the family of Avraham and so will receive those blessings. By the way--the blessing meant for Esav that Yaakov 'tricked' out of his father, never said that he would be the heir, that he and his seed would get the land. But that's another story. The point here, in this parsha, is that there were indeed consequences: midda kneged midda--Yaakov got tricked as he tricked, and by being tricked Rachel, his love, was not his first wife, not the only mother of his children, and was not buried with him. Yaakov never got to see his mother again, and she never got to see him again, nor her grandchildren. Yaakov was silent when Lavan answered him as to why he tricked him; Yaakov knew that it was 'payback.' Yaakov was on a journey and eventually got resolution --in next week's parsha! Reply

Anonymous Ontario October 21, 2013

Vayeitzei I don't understand how the 2 sons of the maids became leader of a tribe when they had no connection with Jacob Reply

Ina new york ciy November 23, 2012

vayeitzei I appreciate the disturbing feelings this anonymous writer expressed. I have had similar feelings and nagging questions about Yayeitzei.
I'm left with no answer other than "bless what there is for being" which always is a response that covers doubt. Reply

chana brooklyn, ny November 23, 2012

Did he really steal the blessings from his brother? Or did Eisav sell them with his birthright? Jacob having four wives and 11 children in no way stopped his brother from having the same. But I think you're talking about adult decisions being made for him by his mother. We take as a given that Rebecca, his mother , was a prophet. As such, it's appropriate to take her advice. His father, too, was a prophet. What G-d didn't tell him - that it was Jacob getting the blessings - is between him and G-d. Reply

Anonymous new york city, NY November 13, 2010

Vayeitzei Aside from the beauty of the angels ascending, descending the mystical ladder while he sleeps, this parsha disturbs me. Jacob listens to his mother (whose advice is pretty deceitful). He steals from his brother, lies to his father, so what's in his heart? With the stolen blessing he has more than his share of physical pleasures, during the 20 years that he works for his uncle. It seems to me that he wasn't suffering. He was healthy and strong. Laban was not permitted to harm him, just deceive him, as he deceived his brother and father. children and women surround him with pleasure. I've read Vayeitez many times over the years. This story of Yacob has always disturbed me. (this is first time I've ever spoken of this) Reply

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