Parashat Vayetzei / פרשת וַיֵּצֵא
Read in the Diaspora on 28 November 2020 (12 Kislev 5781).
Parashat Vayetzei is the 7th weekly Torah portion in the annual Jewish cycle of Torah reading.
Torah Portion: Genesis 28:10-32:3
In Parashat Vayetzei, Jacob has left his home fearing reprisal from his brother Esau for having got the blessing for the first born. He spends the night on Mount Moriah, where Abraham bound Isaac for sacrifice and later the Temple will stand. He arranges rocks as an altar to give thanks to Hashem and thus is Jacob credited with instituting the evening or Ma’ariv service.
Jacob has a dream that night. He sees a ladder with angels going up and then coming down. Hashem is atop the ladder. Hashem tells him that the ground there will someday house the Temple and his descendants will spread out over the earth and prosper.
The next day Jacob goes to Haran to Rebecca’s family. He stops at a well where some shepherds there confirm that his uncle Laban lives nearby and is well. His daughter Rachel shows up with the flock to water them. Jacob is attracted to her immediately and introduces himself as part of her extended family.
Rachel takes him home to meet the family. Jacob asks Laban for Rachel to be his wife. Laban is disappointed that he does not have the wealth that his grandfather Abraham had. Laban tells Jacob he can work seven years for Rachel to be his wife.
After the seven years are up, Jacob prepares to marry Rachel. The bride is veiled, and it is dark, so Jacob doesn’t see that he has married Rachel’s older sister Leah. Jacob confronts Laban in the morning and Laban tells him that the custom there is for the older daughter to be married first. Laban tells Jacob that after the week of nuptials with Leah, he can then marry Rachel as well, but he will have to work another seven years for her.
Laban’s flocks increase and he becomes wealthy because Jacob works for him. Jacob favors Rachel over Leah.
Leah first gives birth to four sons: Reuben, Simeon, Levi, and Judah. Rachel is barren, but gives her maidservant, Bilhah, to Jacob instead. Bilhah gives birth to Dan and Naphtali. Leah then allows her maidservant, Zilpah, to consort with Jacob. Zilpah gives birth to Gad and Asher. Leah then gives birth to two more sons, Zebulun and Issachar and she also gives birth to a daughter, Dinah.
Finally, Rachel conceives Joseph.
Jacob works for Laban for another six years. He makes a deal with Laban that for payment, he can keep any sheep or goats that are speckled or have markings on them, and Laban will keep the plain-colored animals. Jacob peels rods with markings on them and when the animals gaze on the peeled poles, they give birth to speckled, ringed and spotted animals.
After twenty years, Jacob leaves with his family. Rachel has stolen her father Laban’s terrafim, which are idols. Laban chases after Jacob and accuses him of just leaving and stealing his terrafim. Laban had been warned by Hashem in a dream not to harm Jacob.
Jacob confronts him that he has served him diligently the past twenty years even though Laban changed their arrangement a hundred times. After not finding the idols, Laban and his men leave. Jacob make a pact on Mount Gal-Ed.
Jacob continues on his journey with his new family towards the Holy Land.