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THE GOOD IN EVERYONE

by Yehoshua Brotsky    
Torah from Dixie Staff Writer    

Who says that the only one fit to marry the rabbi's daughter is another rabbi's son? Many people believe that if you don't have royal blood then you are not fit to be the king. Towards the end of this week's Torah portion, Isaac directs his son Jacob to the town of Aram where he should find a wife from the daughters of Laban.

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Who says that the only one fit to marry the rabbi's daughter is another rabbi's son? Many people believe that if you don't have royal blood then you are not fit to be the king. Towards the end of this week's Torah portion, Isaac directs his son Jacob to the town of Aram where he should find a wife from the daughters of Laban. The text describes Laban as "the son of Betuel the Arami, brother of Rebecca who was the mother of Jacob and Esau" (Genesis 28:5).

The question arises, why is Laban described in such a peculiar manner, including mention of the greater part of his family tree? If we already know who Laban is from last week's Torah portion, why repeat this information here? The Ohr Hachaim, a leading 18th century Torah commentator and Kabbalist, suggests the following answer. Although Jacob was a tzaddik (a righteous man) the son of a tzaddik - Isaac, nonetheless he was deemed eligible for marriage within the family of a complete rasha (wicked man) the son of a rasha. Just as Rebecca succeeded in raising our forefather Jacob, despite her distasteful lineage, her brother Laban also had the capacity to beget honorable children. The verse relates here that although Laban was the successor to his father Betuel and his wicked dynasty, conversely Laban represented the house of Rebecca and Jacob, pillars of the Jewish nation.

As we strive daily to perfect ourselves and become better Jews, we often become saddened by our past transgressions. It is our responsibility to know our true potential and be aware that no matter what our past represented, we can still produce the scholars of the future. There is good in everyone, and that is what we must strive to express.

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Yehoshua Brotsky, a teacher in New York, is married to Elisheva Ginian of Atlanta.

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