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Vayetzei 5761

Vayetzei (Genesis 28:10-32:3 )

by Kalman Packouz

GOOD MORNING!  This week is a bit of a love story. Man finally meets the woman for him. They date for a year. He is so overwhelmed with the reality of the situation that he does something typically male ... something "extremely intelligent." He walks from the relationship figuring they need a break. Was he afraid of commitment? ("No," says he.) Did he think that he would find someone even "more perfect"? ("No," says he.) What we do know is that he broke her heart and in the process his own as well.

How do I know? I received the following fax of insights into life. I called to find out if indeed he was the author. And the story came out. He hoped that if I would publish the lessons that he has learned, that she, being a reader of the Shabbat Shalom Fax, would read them, know he was sincere, and give him another chance. I like the insights and thought them worth sharing:

  • Love is not a series of tests, but a continuum of opportunities.

  • Be quick to apologize for your failings and quicker to forgive the mistakes of others.

  • Replace being judgmental with understanding.

  • Keep your guard up, but give your friends the password.

  • Build walls for protection, not separation.

  • Recognize the difference between "moving on" and running away.

  • Choose your words carefully, but don't be silent. God will give us all an eternity to be silent

  • Rather than being caught in the rain, be caught up in it. Revel in its abandon and listen as if it were a symphony

  • When errors are made and confidences are shaken, remember the words of the lyricist -- that sometimes "we're neither pure nor wise nor good. But we do the best we know. We'll build our house, and chop our wood, and make our garden grow."

  • Laugh at the absurd. Go to the toy store and buy a miniature frog ... because everyone should have a frog! (And you never know when a frog will turn into a prince!)

I don't know if it will work. Will she call him? Will she take his call or respond to his letters? Will they get married? I don't know. I do know that if the answer is "yes" that I have been promised an invitation to the wedding.

A wit (my son tells me that Aristotle defines "wit" as "educated insolence") once said that the difference between men and women is that men don't understand women and know that they don't understand them -- and that women don't understand men, but think that they do. Perhaps that is why the Talmud says that making shidduchim, bringing together the right man and the right woman for marriage, is harder than splitting the Red Sea.

It has been said that "love is blind." Untrue! Love is open-eyed, seeing the other person's good points and faults. Love is the pleasure one has in focusing on the good points in someone in spite of the faults. Proof? A mother will love her drunk, dissolute son even if he has few redeeming qualities. When asked, "Why?" she'll point to his good heart, his kind nature ... some positive quality. When asked, "But what about his drinking, his laziness?" she'll reply, "It's not his fault. I didn't discipline him properly. He was in with a bad crowd." She focuses on the good; she loves him for the good. You can't love someone for his faults.

Want to know what is blind? Infatuation. If you meet the "absolutely perfect girl/guy who has no faults" -- run! You are infatuated. Everyone has faults. Perhaps that is one of the reasons the Almighty created marriage. If we have to live with the faults of others and adjust for them, then perhaps we can live with and adjust for our own faults -- and maybe even improve ourselves!

Portion of the Week


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 bedekin, the lifting of the veil, at traditional weddings -- to ensure one is marrying the right bride.)

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 worked for Rachel for seven years; and it was in his eyes as a few days in his love for her" (Genesis 29:20). When someone loves another, even a short time apart can seem like an eternity. How is it possible that the time appeared to be a short time for Jacob?

In his classic commentary, the Malbim gives two answers:

  1. Jacob loved Rachel so much that he thought she was worth working for many more than seven years. Therefore, to work only seven years for such a wonderful person was really a bargain.

  2. Jacob's love for Rachel was not simple passion. When a person feels deep passion, a day can seem like a year. Jacob loved her because of her good qualities that would make her worthy of being the mother of the future Jewish people. A person whose love is based on passion really loves himself and not the object of his love. When a person loves the good in another, he truly loves the other person and not himself. (The Torah tells us Jacob's focus was "in his love for her.") Therefore, the time seemed short because it was not a selfish love.

The Alschich gives another approach: The seven years seemed like a few days in Jacob's eyes AFTER he was married to Rachel. (This is the order of the words and events in the Torah.) His love and his happiness overshadowed and all but erased the pain of the seven years of work.

Our lessons: Clarify whether it's a burning heart or heartburn -- are you in love or are you infatuated? Secondly, if you have a difficult situation -- like difficulty in finding a spouse -- know that your trials and tribulations will seem insignificant in light of your happiness. Therefore, don't suffer so much now; rather anticipate your future joy.


Jerusalem  3:59
Guatemala 5:15  Hong Kong 5:24  Honolulu 5:31
J'Burg 6:35  London 3:34  Los Angeles 4:26
Melbourne 8:14  Miami 5:12  Moscow 3:40

New York 4:11  Singapore 6:40


Enough love is just a bit more
than anyone ever gets.

Dedicated by...

In Loving Memory of
Mr. Laurie Berman
He fought a heroic battle
He inspired us all

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