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Thursday, November 15, 2007

Parshas Vayaitzai



Parshas Vayaitzai

"Vayaitzai Ya'akov mi'Be-er Sheva vayailech Charanah." And Yankif went out of Be'er Sheva towards Charan. In such succinct fashion, the Toirah introduces the next twenty years of fun and oppression at the hands of Lavan.

The RAMBAN asks the question: Why is it that Yankif Avinu -- one of our founding Avois, a pinnacle of our early relationship with the Aimishteh, and a model for future behavior emulation -- was so consistently disliked by his brother, his uncle AND his own father -- all the male figures in his life? What's pshat?

According to the MAHARAL, this is because Yankif was insufferably arrogant. According to a Medrish in Soitah, Yankif used to boast to his brother Eisav, "I have an IQ of Koof Mem Chess, while you kill weasels for a living. And you were stupid enough to sell me your birthright for a bowl of lentils, schmuck!"

But the TOISFOIS YUNTIF points out that, ironically, as much as Yankif was hated by the men in his life, the women in his life REALLY loved him: His mother Rivka, who taught him all the finer arts of lying to his father; and his two wives, who constantly fought over him like sisters (hey -- they were sisters!). Explains the TOISFOIS YUNTIF, when the Toirah tells us that Yankif didn't like to go to the fields to hunt, it is really trying to tell us that Yankif was extremely sexually conflicted and effeminate. This really pissed off his father and brother, but was very popular with all the women, who used to like to shop with Yankif, and talk fashion and attend the ballet with him.

Rav Yoiseph Karo, on the other hand, holds farkhert: Yankif was a true he-man who left all the men jealous and all the women swooning. As proof, he cites the fact that to impress Rachel when her first meets her, Yankif single-handedly removes the giant boulders covering the well. Says Rav Yoiseph Karo, "If Yankif Avinu was man enough to get his rocks off in public, that is good enough for me."

As Yankif meets with his uncle for the first time, the Toirah tells us that Lavan hugs and kisses him. A famous RASHI addresses an implicit question: Why does the Toirah tell us that he both hugs AND kisses him? RASHI explains that the Toirah was not being redundant: Lavan first hugs Yankif to see if he has valuables hidden under his clothes, and then kisses him to see if any jewels are hidden in his mouth. (Author's comment: Check out RASHI. He really does say this.) So is this what family reunions were like back then? I think I will stick with a handshake and a beer.

The RASHBA adds, the real reason Lavan hated Yankif is that Yankif Avinu didn't let him get to third base on their first date.

As one reads of these curious events, a good-for-nothing minuval such as you must wonder why the Toirah bothers to tell us such tales. Indeed, a famous Gemmarah in Yevamois specifically asks why the Toirah doesn't just begin at Har Sinai with the giving of the Ten Commandments. Or begin with the Exodus from Egypt, the formal agglomeration of Klal Yisroel into an independent nation. Or begin with the entrance of Klal Yisroel into Eretz Yisroel. Why do we need all of this pre-history?

The Gemmarah quotes Rabban Shimon Ben Gamliel as saying that all of Sefer Beraishis comes to teach us the ways of Tzidkus, righteousness, so we can emulate our forefathers' and foremothers' actions in our own lives.

Nowhere is this better illustrated than in our Parsha, with the lessons taught by Rachel and Leah. Yankif of course ends up marrying Leah, and, subsequently, Rachel. As Rachel struggles to conceive, she hands over her maidservant to be a concubine to Yankif. Leah ends up doing the same thing.

The RAMBAM points out that if you include Sarah Imainu, who gave Hagar (the Horrible), her own maidservant, to Avraham as a concubine, we have a total of three instances where the Imahois INSIST that their husbands be mekayim the mitzvah of pru urvu with another woman, or at least perform a quickie. That's 66% of the Avois, and 75% of the Imahois. And THESE WERE GREAT WOMEN, who always acted at every moment with the complete intention of fulfilling the mitzvois of Hakkadoshboruchhu. You cannot argue with these statistics, you Minuval.

So, as we know from Rabban Shimon Ben Gamliel and from many others of Chazal, in order to be a true Ben Toirah we must walk in the footsteps of our great and righteous ancestors and emulate their very deeds. Consequently it is a Dioraisa, a Biblical commandment, to engage in an intimate relationship with a concubine!

I have made this argument many times to my bashert, Feigah Breinah. She is not fully convinced of this particular mitzvah, but she does hold that lap dances are a D'Rabbanan, and not the worst thing you can do on a Thursday night after a long week of work. But I expect that she'll come around sooner or later, otherwise I will cease snacking on the schmaltz herring, if you know what I mean.

Four hundred years ago the ARI ZAHL, living in Tzfas, taught us that with every mitzvah we fulfill, we restore another primordial spark of the Aimishteh's goodness to its rightful place in the cosmic universe, thereby bringing the world one step closer to its original perfection.

Rachel, Leah, and Sarah, in their holy righteousness, understood this, and that is why they insisted their husbands sleep with their maidservants. So as we walk in their Heiligeh footsteps, we should always keep in mind that every extramarital biyuh brings us one step closer to Biyas Hamashiach. Bimhairah Biyamainu. Umain.

Ah Gutten Shabbos You Minuval

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