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Parshat Vayetze

By: Rabbi Yitzchak Lerner

On his way to Charan, Yaakov makes a 14-year stop in the Yeshiva of Shem ve-Ever. But why now? His parents had specifically instructed him to go find a wife – was this the time to go and learn? It seems more like the time to do Kibud Av ve-Em! Additionally, it’s not as if he had never learned Torah before; and when he had learned, he had done so with his father Yitzchak and his grandfather Avraham. No offense to his new roshei yeshiva, but they couldn’t quite compare to his former ones!

Rav Yaakov Kaminetsky proposes a wonderful answer. In next week’s parshah, after Yaakov leaves his father-in-law, he is able to proudly proclaim, “I lived with Lavan, yet I did not learn from his ways.” What gave Yaakov Avinu the strength to insulate himself from the likes of people that he lived with for so many years?

Rav Kaminetsky answers that it was the Torah he had learned from Shem and Ever. Their perspective was different that that of the Torah of Avraham and Yitzchak; because they had lived through the time of Noach, they had known truly evil people, and could now teach others how to protect themselves from them. Avraham and Yitzchak grew up in a different society. They did not understand the likes of Lavan and his cohorts.

In a sense, then, Yaakov really was doing Kibud av ve-Em. When his parents told him to go, he had to learn to prepare himself for that new environment. Going to that yeshiva was part of that preparation. As Torah-observant Jews, we are always faced with exposures, against which we must protect ourselves and our families. Hopefully, this part of Torah, the part that teaches us how to properly protect ourselves from undesirable influences, has been properly transmitted to us.

Good Shabbos
Rav Yitz Lerner




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