After rightfully taking the blessings of Esav, Yaakov departed from Be'er Sheva and went to Charan, the home of his mother's family. Rashi, quoting the talmud, says that his first destination was the yeshiva of Shem and Aber (Megilla 16b/17a), where he went on to spend 14 years learning Torah in order to strengthen his faith and increase his knowledge.

Spending time in Yeshiva is a place not just to study, but to work on one’s characteristics, frame of mind and people skills, and this wider development of character is usually very beneficial when going out into the working world or for marriage.

Thereafter, Yaakov resumed his journey and arrived at Mount Moriah, the area where Noach and Adam offered sacrifices, Yitzchak was brought as an offering, and also the future site of the Temple. He went there initially to pray the Arvit prayers (Rashi), and then slept there for the night and had a prophetic dream of angels going up and down a ladder between heaven and earth (Bereishit 28:12). G-d promised him the Land of Israel, that he would be the founder of a great nation (from the twelve tribes), and that he will have Divine protection.

The prophetic dream was also a sign of the four future exiles Israel would endure, as punishment for not keeping the commandments. They were; the Babylonian Exile, where Nebuchadnezzar destroyed the First Temple and the Jews left for Babylon (the 70 year exile was symbolized by the angel walking up the ladder 70 steps before falling), the second exile took place during the Persian/Median era, where Haman attempted to destroy the Jewish Nation, this lasted 52 years (in this case the angel went up 52 steps before falling); the third exile lasted 130 years, known as the Greek Exile, where Ptolomy and Antiochus attempted to forcefully assimilate the Jewish people into secular culture (130 steps were walked by the angel before falling); the fourth exile took place during the end of the second Temple era, known as the Roman Exile, which we are still facing today, this was in fact symbolized by the angel going up the ladder continuously without descending.

Yaakov awoke and vowed to build an altar there and tithe all that he would receive when he stayed in Lavan’s territory (Bereishit 28:22). Thereafter he traveled to Charan and met his cousin Rachel at the well. He arranged with her father, Lavan, to work seven years for her hand in marriage, however Lavan tricked Yaakov, instead giving Rachel’s older sister, Leah (Megillah 13b Rashi/ Bereishit 29:22-25).

Yaakov then committed himself to work another seven years in order to also marry Rachel. Lavan realized that all his produce was flourishing on account of Yaakov working for him, so he tricked him in order to stay for a longer duration than was intended.

Leah then gave birth to four sons: Reuven, Shimon, Levi and Yehuda, making up the first four Tribes of Israel (Bereishit 29:31-35). Yehuda would later be given the crown of Kingship, and the Davidic dynasty would be traced back from him. In fact, Leah gave birth almost immediately, unlike Rachel, her sister, who would have to wait many years before giving birth. Yaakov clearly 'loved Rachel more than Leah (Bereishit 29:30), and as we learn Hashem helps the less favored, he opened up Leah's womb first, to give birth to the first of the Tribes, in order that Yaakov's love for Leah would increase.

Rachel at this point was still barren, and in an attempt to give Yaakov children, she gave her handmaiden Bilhah to Yaakov as a wife (Just like Sara gave Hagar to Avraham as a wife in parashat Lech Lecha (Bereishit 16:3)). Bilhah gave birth to Dan and Naftali, two tribes from whom great leaders would come from in future (Bereishit 30:1-8), being Shimshon and Devorah respectively.

Leah, following the footsteps of Rachel gave Yaakov her handmaiden Zilpah (Bereishit 30:9-13), who gave birth to Gad and Asher. The tribe of Gad would later be famed for being warriors of Hashem and Asher’s daughters would be famed for marrying Kohen Gadolim. Leah then gave birth to Yissachar and Zevulun (Bereishit 30:17-21), famed for the learning and work partnership throughout Jewish history and then she gave birth to a daughter, Deena. In fact, Leah named her Deena, since she purposely passed judgment on herself, to not give birth to another boy, in order that her sister, Rachel, could give birth to the last of the Tribes remaining, so she would have a proper share of the Tribal formation (Berachot 60a Rashi).

Hashem then finally blessed Rachel with a son, Yosef. Immediately after giving birth to Yosef (Bereishit 30:22-24), Yaakov decided to leave Lavan, however Lavan, aware of the wealth Yaakov made for him, was reluctant to let him go.

Lavan tried to trick Yaakov throughout his twenty years of employment; he even changed his wages ‘100’ times (Bereishit Rabba 71:2)! However Yaakov still became extremely wealthy.

Six years later, Yaakov, aware that Lavan had become immensely resentful of his wealth, ran away with his family. Lavan pursued them, however he was warned by G-d not to harm them or to even do good to him (Bereishit 31:24), since usually whatever good a wicked man does or say to the righteous, does not turn out good (Yevamot 103). Yaakov and Lavan agreed to a covenant not to harm each others descendants (Lavan’s descendant, Bilam would later on break the treaty as we will learn in Parshat Balak) and Lavan returned home and lost all his wealth as the righteous Yaakov left his home, which shows that a man’s produce may be blessed due to the presence of a righteous individual.

The Haftorah for this week’s reading is taken from the Book of Hosea, chapters 12, 13 and 14.

This week’s Dvar Torah is dedicated to the refuah shelaima of Yosef Ben Edna.