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20/21 Nov: Parsha Vayetze

Shabbat comes in 3.50 pm : goes out 4.55 pm ___________________________________________________________________

There is a midrash that fills in the story of what happened when Jacob discovered that Lavon had tricked him, and given him Leah to marry instead of Rachel. It states that Jacob said to Leah: “You are a liar, the daughter of a liar – last night, I called you Rachel and you answered me; now I call you Leah and you also answer me ! ” She said back to him: “Are you a man with no followers ? Your father called you Esav and you answered him, and then he called you Jacob and you also answered him!”

This midrash points out similarities in Leah’s and Jacob’s deception: 1) one sibling pretends to be the other; 2) the deception is instigated by a parent; 3) the deception ends up for the good, in spite of the initial anguish experienced by the deceived party; 4) the victim was fooled because he could not see (Isaac because of blindness, Jacob because of the dark of night); 5) the deception appeared to be the only way of accomplishing an important goal.

Both situations involve difficult moral decisions, where  the right choice was not clear. In fact, the more we examine these two episodes, and others faced by our role models, the personalities in the Torah, the more we see that most of the choices they faced were quite complex, fraught with difficulty, and left lingering problems. What is the message of the Torah — does the end justify the means ? At least in these cases, it seems the answer is yes.

Rabbi Paul Arberman

November 18, 2015