Vayeitzei – Sheini

Rolling Stones

By Rabbi Jack Abramowitz

So, Yaakov headed off to Avraham’s homeland in the east. When he arrived, he came to a well, where groups of shepherds were gathering. The well was capped with a large stone and they had to wait until all the shepherds arrived to be able to remove it. While they waited, Yaakov chatted with the shepherds, who apparently knew his uncle Lavan. They pointed out Lavan’s daughter Rachel arriving with her sheep. Yaakov was immediately smitten and he single-handedly rolled the huge stone off the well so that she might water her sheep. He introduced himself to his cousin, kissed her and cried. (Rashi says that he cried because he saw prophetically that they would not be buried together. Another explanation given is that he cried because when Eliezer had come to find a wife for Yitzchak, he was leading camels laden with treasure, but Yaakov arrived on the run and empty-handed.) Rachel ran off to tell her father that their relative had arrived.

Lavan arrived and greeted Yaakov. Lavan hugged his nephew (possibly to frisk him, looking for treasure). Yaakov told him all that had happened and Lavan invited him to stay. Yaakov stayed for a month and Lavan put him to work. Eventually they sat down to negotiate Yaakov’s wages. Lavan had two daughters: the older was Leah and the younger was Rachel. Rachel was beautiful and Leah had tender eyes. (The exact meaning of the word “rakos,” referring to Leah’s eyes, is unclear. It could be a compliment, meaning that they were “soft” or a defect, meaning “weak.” According to the latter interpretation, Leah’s eyes were all cried out because she thought that, as the older sister, she’d have to marry Yaakov’s older brother, Eisav.)

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