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Vayetzei 5777

Vayetzei (Genesis 28:10-32:3 )

by Kalman Packouz

GOOD MORNING!  Until I was 22 years old and started to learn in a yeshiva, I always thought that there were only 10 Commandments. I was surprised to find out that there are actually 613 commandments in the Torah. There are 248 positive commandments and 365 negative commandments (prohibitions).

There are some mitzvot (commandments) in which we are obligated once a year (i.e. blowing the shofar on Rosh Hashanah), mitzvot which are once a week (Shabbat) and mitzvot which are daily (prayer). There are also six mitzvot in which we are obligated every moment of the day.

In Hebrew, these are called The Six Mitzvot Temidiot -- The Six Constant Mitzvot. I highly recommend the Aish Foundation Series in Spirituality -- for depth and breadth. If you prefer a book, read Sefer HaChinuch which elucidates all of the mitzvot of the Torah, The Concise Book of Mitzvoth or The Six Constant Mitzvos. For an advance course, sign up at

While you are waiting in lines or waiting for an appointment, the Six Constant Commandments give you something to think about! After each mitzvah is its source in the Torah and its number in the Sefer HaChinuch.



I. Know There is a God (Exodus 20:2) #25

  1. He is the Creator, Sustainer and Supervisor of the Universe.
  2. He created the world from nothing and it is all for our pleasure.
  3. He sustains the world -- it is constantly dependent on His will.
  4. He supervises the world; there are no accidents. Everything is meaningful.

II. Don't Believe in Any Other "gods" (Exodus 20:3) #26

  1. There are no other powers other than God; it is futile to rely upon any other power.
  2. Saying "I can't" is a form of idol worship (if God would help you, could you?).

III. Know That God is One (Deuteronomy 6:4) #417

  1. He transcends time and space.
  2. He has no components.
  3. He is totally unique.
  4. There is one Source for everything that happens.

IV. Love God (Deuteronomy 6:5) #418

  1. God is the greatest pleasure a person can have.
  2. You're longing for it.
  3. This is all that you ever wanted, want, or will want.

V. Fear God (Deuteronomy 10:20) #432

  1. There are consequences for your actions -- the choice is yours -- the reward is great.
  2. Stand in awe of the Almighty and His Creation.

VI. Do Not Follow After Your Desires (Numbers 15:29) #387

  1. Stay focused on your goal; don't be distracted by your desires.


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Torah Portion of the week

Vayetze, Genesis 28:10 - 32:3

This week we have the trials and tribulations of Jacob living with and working for his father-in-law, Laban. Jacob agreed to work as a shepherd 7 years for Rachel only to have Laban switch daughters on him at the marriage ceremony. This is why we have the badekin ('covering' ceremony) where the groom sees the face of his bride to ensure he is marrying the right woman before he covers her with the veil.

As Jacob tries to build his equity, Laban changes their agreement time after time. After 20 years, the Almighty tells Jacob the time has come to return to the land of Canaan. Jacob and his household secretly leave only to be pursued by Laban who has claims to put forth. The story ends with peace and blessings between Jacob and Laban.

* * *

Dvar Torah
based on Growth Through Torah by Rabbi Zelig Pliskin

The Torah states:

"And (Jacob) had a dream and in his dream there was a ladder standing on the ground and its top reached the Heavens" (Genesis 28:12).

What insight into life can we learn from this dream?

The Chofetz Chaim, Rabbi Yisroel Meir Kagan, cites the idea expressed by many commentators that the ladder Jacob saw in his dream symbolizes the situation of every person in this world. There are two actions a person performs on a ladder. Either he goes up from the bottom to the top, or else he goes down from the top to the bottom. Each day in a person's life he faces new challenges. If he has the willpower and self-discipline to overcome those challenges, he goes up in his spiritual level. If, however, a person fails to exercise the necessary self-control, he lowers himself. This is our daily task, to climb higher every day.

There is no standing in one place. When challenges arise, you will either behave in an elevated manner and grow from the experience or you will fail. Learn to appreciate the daily challenges that face you. Every difficulty is a means of elevating yourself. Every time you overcome a negative impulse you grow as a person. When a person climbs a ladder, he feels his progress with each step. So, too, with your daily victories over your negative impulses. Feel your progress and you will have the motivation to continue climbing.

Whenever you see a ladder, let it serve as a reminder of Jacob's ladder. When passing near a ladder ask yourself, "Am I presently climbing in my spiritual level or am I going down?" If you ever answer that you are going down, do not despair. Rather, strengthen yourself and start climbing from where you are.


Pirke Avos 1:2 "Shimon the righteous ... used to say: The world stands on three things -- Torah study, on the service of God (prayer) and acts of kindness."


Candle Lighting Times

December 9
(or go to

Jerusalem 4:00
Guatemala 5:15 - Hong Kong 5:22 - Honolulu 5:32
J'Burg 6:35 - London 3:34 - Los Angeles 4:26
Melbourne 8:16 - Mexico City 5:41 - Miami 5:12
New York 4:10 - Singapore 6:41 - Toronto 4:23

Quote of the Week

You are rich according to what you are,
not according to what you have



In Loving Memory of
Geoff Frisch
Happy Anniversary
Akiva & Sarah Zweig

Mazal Tov on the birth of
Nossan Meir



With Special Thanks to
Drs. Rodney & Chana

Portland, Oregon

With Great Appreciation to
Kenneth & Nina

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