Updated: Nov 8, 2021
Parashat Vayetzei 5782 / פָּרָשַׁת וַיֵּצֵא
Read on 13 November 2021 / 9 Kislev 5782.
Parashat Vayetzei is the 7th weekly Torah portion in the annual Jewish cycle of Torah reading.
Parashat Vayetzei tells of Jacob's travels to, life in, and return from Haran. The parashah recounts Jacob's dream of a ladder to heaven, Jacob's meeting of Rachel at the well, Jacob's time working for Laban and living with Rachel and Leah, the birth of Jacob's children, and the departure of Jacob's family from Laban.
Triennial year 3
1: 31:17-21 · 5 p’sukim ·
2: 31:22-24 · 3 p’sukim ·
3: 31:25-35 · 11 p’sukim ·
4: 31:36-42 · 7 p’sukim ·
5: 31:43-45 · 3 p’sukim ·
6: 31:46-50 · 5 p’sukim ·
7: 31:51-32:3 · 7 p’sukim ·
maf: 32:1-3 · 3 p’sukim ·
Haftarah for Ashkenazim: Hosea 12:13 - 14:10 · 28 p’sukim
Haftarah for Sephardim: Hosea 11:7 - 12:12 · 17 p’sukim
Jacob is en route to Haran to spend 20 years with his uncle Laban. At darkness on the first day of his travel, he lies down using a rock as a pillow to sleep. He has dream of a ladder to heaven with angels going up and down. Hashem is there to reassure Jacob that He is the same G-d of his father and grandfather. G-d tells him his descendants will be many and G-d will always be with him. Jacob wakes up and anoints the rock, calls the place “Bethel” and prays. Jacob is thus credited with instituting the Ma’ariv service.
Jacob arrives in Haran at the same well that Abraham’s chief servant met his mother to bring home as a wife to his father. He sees some shepherds and inquires about Laban as his daughter Rachel comes to the well to water the flocks. He introduces himself and is attracted to her. She takes him home to meet the family which includes Laban and her older sister Leah. Jacob works for Laban and then Laban offers to pay him. Jacob asks for Rachel’s hand in marriage and Laban tells him to work for seven years to marry Rachel. After seven years, the bride is veiled and after the ceremony, Jacob discovers that it’s Leah, the older daughter, that he married. Laban states that it is custom to marry off the older daughter first. He tells Jacob to observe the marriage rites for a week and then he can marry Rachel as well, but he’d have to work another seven years. Jacob consents. Leah is upset that she is not loved as much as Rachel and hashem “opens her womb” and she gives birth, in succession, to four sons: Reuben, Shimon, Levi and Judah.
Rachel is upset that her older sister bore sons while she is still barren. Proclaiming that “without children I shall die!” she tells Jacob to consort with her handmaid Bilhah (“concubinage”) to give him children for her as a surrogate mother. Bilhah conceives Dan and Naphtali. When Leah saw that she had stopped bearing, she allowed her maidservant to consort with Jacob as well. Zilpah bore Gad and Asher. Reuben was out in the field during the wheat and came across some mandrakes, considered to be helpful in childbearing. Rachel bargained for them by allowing Leah to take her turn in sleeping with Jacob. Leah then bore Issachar and Zebulun. Leah also bares him a daughter, Dinah. Finally, G-d remembered Rachel and she conceived Joseph. Jacob now wants to take his family and leave, but Laban wants him to stay, saying that he knows that he has prospered because of Jacob. Jacob asks that his wages be off-colored sheep and goats. Jacob arranged specially designed rods in front of the flocks so that they gave birth to similarly colored sheep and goats, which were to be his.
With Jacob becoming wealthy with flocks, Laban and his sons have a different attitude. Hashem tells Jacob to return to his homeland. Jacob calls Rachel and Leah and tells them that they are leaving and that their father Laban had changed their agreement multiple times. Rachel and Leah felt that they were used merely for barter and were anxious to leave as well. They leave without saying goodbye to Laban while the latter is off shearing his sheep. Rachel also steals one of Laban’s idols. Three days after leaving, Laban is told and pursues them. The day before he catches up, G-d comes to Laban in a dream and tells him to leave Jacob alone. Laban confronts Jacob for leaving so abruptly and Jacob counters that he would not be so gracious to let him leave. He then accuses him of stealing his idol. Jacob invites him to search and Rachel had hidden it under her seat by tells him she can’t get up because she is with the period of women. Jacob then confronts Laban about how he was honest but Laban changed his wages “hundreds of times”. Laban then offers a pact of non-aggression with Jacob.