Stuck in the Rut

Kislev 8, 5783
December 2, 2022
Candlelighting Time 4:17 PM

            Our Sages refer to Yaakov as the ‘premier’ of the Patriarchs. Certainly, we may assume that Yaakov consolidated the incredibly remarkable traits of his father and grandfather and further expanded the formation of the future nation with his indelible mark of truthfulness. In contrast to his forebears, Yaakov’s household was exceptional with children representing the finest of  scions. One can only imagine the tremendous splendor that the face of such an individual shone and extremely impressionable effect it would have on someone who would gaze upon him. It is reputed that one who met the famed Vilna Gaon would be so enraptured by his countenance that he would repent. Yet, Lavan saw his son-in-law Yaakov if not on a daily basis but very often and did not change his ways even one iota. Furthermore, an angel appeared to Lavan on Yaakov’s behalf to warn him not to harm  Yaakov in any way. After Yaakov ran away from Lavan and then pursued him and challenged him for his conduct, their conversation was anything but amicable. He accused him of kidnapping his daughters and grandchildren and robbing him. And when they parted ways, Lavan returned to his place, an aphorism that he resumed his normal obnoxious behavior and was totally unaffected by his relationship with Yaakov. Whereas Yaakov, now free of the polluted atmosphere of Lavan seeked to enhance his life and create a stronger bond with Hashem. How can we understand such a lack of reaction on Lavan’s part?

            Maharal discusses the fate of Doeg Ho’adomi, a Torah scholar of unparalleled genius in his generation. However, the Mishnah mentions that he was excluded from having a portion in the World to Come. Before King David was anointed, he was pursued by the present King Saul who wanted to kill him. He hid in a certain city and Doeg informed upon him. King Saul took revenge against those people and killed them. This was on account of the Loshon Hora, slander of Doeg. Therefore, due to his horrendous act against the future king of Israel, he was banned from the World to Come. How could a person with such vast Torah knowledge intentionally place an entire city in danger and eventually be responsible for their annihilation? Maharal answers that although Doeg was a tremendous repository of Torah information, that’s all that he was. He simply was an intellectual giant but a spiritual midget. He possessed horrible character traits and although he acquired incredible comprehension of all facets of Torah, his own persona did not change and was not altered to mesh with his stature in Torah. Therefore, he was not able to imbibe Torah appropriately and it remained locked up outside of him.

            Lavan was of the same vintage as Doeg. His intense exposure to Yaakov did not penetrate within his innermost recesses and did not register sufficiently due to his ethical lacking. It is as though he did not even see Yaakov because he was totally unaware of his great distinction and noble eminence. Therefore, he stooped so low as to accuse Yaakov of potentially maltreating his wives and stealing from his herd. Of course, these were absurd indictments, but understood by someone like the ilk of Lavan.

            As Meshech Chochmah writes, Yaakov however, left the contaminated environment of Lavan and continued on his way of ongoing ascension reaching for ever greater heights in his relationship to Hashem.      


Yaakov was so intent upon avoid a fight with Lavan that even though he was accused of ludicrous offenses, his response was only what have I done wrong. He did not say to Lavan that his accusations were erroneous.                                                                                                 CHOFETZ CHAIM