Vayeitzei – Sh’vi’i

Lavan Loses It, Then Finds It Again

By Rabbi Jack Abramowitz

Lavan totally lost it. He started screaming at Yaakov that everything Yaakov had was rightfully his, as if he himself were the injured party. But how could Lavan do anything to Yaakov’s wives and sons, he said, seeing as they were his own daughters and grandsons? Lavan resigned himself to reality and suggested a truce. They made a mound of stones and shared a meal over it. They named this “the witness mound” (“Y’gar Sahadusa” in Lavan’s native Aramaic; “Gal-Eid” in Yaakov’s Hebrew). Yaakov and Lavan agreed that the mound would serve as a witness between them while they were apart. Lavan cautioned Yaakov that if he mistreated Rachel and Leah – or even if he took additional wives – that G-d would know. They agreed not to pass the landmark with the intention of harming one another; again, G-d would judge between them.

Yaakov agreed to everything Lavan had proposed. (One significant change: Lavan had proposed the truce in the name of “the G-d of Avraham, Nachor and their father.” Terach, the father of Avraham and Nachor, had been an idolator. Yaakov accepted the terms, but only in the name of the G-d of his father, Yitzchak. He was communicating to Lavan that he disassociated himself from any form of worship other than the service of G-d he had learned in his father’s house.) Yaakov slaughtered an animal, from which both parties ate, and they spent the night in that place. Lavan got up in the morning and said goodbye to his daughters and grandchildren. As they parted company, Yaakov encountered angels. He knew that these were the angels that G-d had dispatched to protect him. Yaakov called that place Machanayim (“camps”) because it was the camp of G-d.

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