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Summary of Parshat  "Vayeitzei"

by the editors    
of Torah from Dixie    

Parshat Vayeitzei (Genesis 28:10­32:3) begins with Jacob escaping from Esau and leaving his parent's home to travel to Charan, where he will stay with his uncle Laban. While spending the night at the future site of the Beit HaMikdash, Hashem appears to Jacob in the dream of a ladder extending from earth to heaven on which angels are ascending and descending. In the dream, Hashem promises Jacob that his descendants will inherit the land of Israel. Upon arriving in Charan, and after rolling a huge stone off of the mouth of the town's well so that the local shepherds could water their flocks, Jacob meets Laban's daughter Rachel and agrees to work for Laban for seven years for her hand in marriage. When the wedding night finally arrives, Laban deceives Jacob by substituting his older daughter Leah in Rachel's place. After waiting a week, Jacob marries Rachel also, but not without having to commit to another seven years of labor.

Over the next few years Rachel remains barren, while Leah gives birth to six sons and a daughter, and Bilhah and Zilpah (the maidservants of Rachel and Leah, respectively) each have two sons with Jacob. Finally Rachel also has a son, Joseph. Jacob becomes very wealthy during his stay with Laban, amassing a huge flock even while Laban continually tries to swindle him throughout his twenty-year stay. After G-d's instruction and seeking council with his wives, Jacob and his family flee from Laban, who pursues and confronts him, upset that he left without saying goodbye and arrogantly claiming that Jacob stole his idols. After Laban searches through their possessions and does not find the idols (which Rachel took, unbeknownst to Jacob, to prevent her father from worshipping them), Jacob and Laban have a heated argument. Eventually they sign a treaty, promising to remain peaceful, and the portion concludes as they part ways.

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