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  • Rav Moshe Weiss

Nahar U'Pashtei Parshas Vayaitzai

Gratitude Protects

It is truly amazing to behold the perspective of Lavan’s sons and to compare it with the viewpoint that Rochel and Leah espoused. The pasuk tells us the thoughts of the Imaos; they said, Are we not considered, etc. and has also devoured our money. For all the riches which Hashem has rescued from our father is ours and our children’s etc. The great wealth which Yaakov Avinu had accumulated in Lavan’s household was completely from Hashem. Lavan had not even provided a wedding dowry for his daughters; he instead essentially sold them to Yaakov in exchange for years of work! Now, when Yaakov fulfilled this arrangement by working for Lavan, the result was great prosperity among Lavan’s flocks. Lavan knew that all his success came from Yaakov, so he begged him to stay longer, drafting one false contract after another to try and steal away any real compensation from Yaakov. Rochel and Leah saw that their father’s intention was only to further his own wealth and that he did not even respect them enough to give them their deserved dowries! All in all, the wicked Lavan tried his best to take away Yaakov’s money, while Hashem would not allow it. This was the perspective the Imahos shared, and was the reality of the situation. And yet, When the Torah reveals the feelings of Lavan’s sons, it states, And he heard the words of Lavan’s sons, saying: Yaakov has taken away all that was our father’s etc. This was inconceivable! Lavan’s sons saw all of Yaakov’s wealth as rightfully their own! They posited that Yaakov was merely a parasite feeding off of Lavan’s fortune, which they felt was rightfully going to be their own. How one can twist his mind and distort the facts in his own favor to such a degree is a lesson in and of itself, but what I would like to focus on here is the underlying indecency that allowed Lavan and his children to pervert their way of viewing what was truly happening. Lavan and his following lacked the basic middah of hakaras hatov. Basic manners would have instilled inside them an everlasting gratitude toward Yaakov for making them wealthy in the first place! Before Yaakov came along, they were regular people. Now, they had made it big. How disgusting that Lavan and his sons had the audacity to turn against the person who did so much for them! We too must learn this lesson well. A person commonly finds himself in a position where he needs the aid of others. Before a person has mastered the intricacies of his chosen craft, he is always looking for advice and for help. Along one’s journey in life there are usually quite a few people who he can point to and recognize them as the people who helped mold who he became. We must learn to cultivate our feelings of gratitude to steer us away from ever being susceptible to adopting the attitude of Lavan, even many years down the road of success. And this evil can go even deeper; this mistake can actually plague one’s relationship with Hashem as well. Proper gratitude toward Hashem for all the kindness He showers upon us is a key motivating factor in our avodah. While a person is going through something, he will beg and plead with Hashem, realizing with clarity that it is He alone who can alleviate his pain. But then, after things have been resolved, a person is often inclined to attribute the yeshuah to his own efforts, or that of others in his life, and to overlook the fact that Hashem has answered his prayers and sent him salvation! We must take care not to allow the attitude of Lavan and his children to sink in and water down the gratitude we feels toward Hashem. We apologize for the delay. The Rosh Yeshiva is bH doing well. A Project of the YSI Alumni Association Written by R’ Moshe Weiss


vayatzai 5782
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